By Margie Wuebker
A Shelby County man implicated in a series of firearm thefts, including one that occurred in Mercer County, has been sentenced to 661Ú2 years in prison.
John David Kuehne, 28, of Sidney, appeared Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Dayton to learn his fate. He is the last of four conspirators to be sentenced.
U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Rose had down a total sentence of 800 months, or 661Ú2 years, in connection with a conspiracy that led to the theft of more than 200 firearms from gun stores in Shelby, Mercer and Champaign counties.
A district court jury convicted Kuehne of one count of conspiracy to steal firearms from a licensed firearms dealer, transport them over state lines to commit a felony and deliver them to an out-of state person in exchange for the drug commonly known as Ecstasy.
In addition, he was convicted of two counts of theft of firearms from a licensed firearms dealer, three counts of possession of stolen firearms, three counts of possession of firearms by a convicted felon and three counts of obtaining firearms in Ohio for the purpose of allowing them to be exchanged for Ecstasy in New York. The conviction came in October 2004 following a 10-day trial. Sentencing has been delayed on several occasions.
In May 2003, a federal grand jury indicted Kuehne and fellow Sidney residents Jeremy Fogt, 27, Nathan Marlow, 24, and Justin Duckro, 22. Marlow pleaded guilty and is currently serving a six-year sentence. Fogt and Duckro, who also entered guilty pleas, are serving 51Ú2 -year sentences.
Marlow and Duckro burglarized Richmart Gun Shop near Fort Loramie Dec. 13, 2002. The next day Kuehne and Fogt took approximately 56 firearms to New York and swapped them for drugs, according to court records.
On Jan. 5, 2003, Marlow and Duckro burglarized a gun dealer in North Lewisburg and took 36 weapons. The men struck Feb. 10, 2003 at Niekamp Farm & Flea Market near St. Henry and made off with 115 firearms. Kuehne and Fogt transported the bulk of the weapons to New York.
Authorities continue to recover the stolen firearms. One taken from Niekamp's reportedly turned up at a murder scene in New York.
"Trading guns for drugs is a crime that deserves harsh punishment," said U.S. Attorney Gregory G. Lockhart. "This sentence should send a message to others who may be involved in such activity to stop before they throw their lives away."
Lockhart commended the cooperative investigation handled by sheriff's offices in Mercer, Shelby and Darke counties and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents.