D.A.: Addict bought guns for criminals

Posted: March 16, 2013

A Montgomery County man, who allegedly made straw purchases of handguns in exchange for heroin, was arrested Friday and charged with numerous weapons counts.

Michael Veneziale, of Hatfield, bought 15 guns during a three-year period, investigators said. One of Veneziale's buyers, Jose Torres, was later shot dead by police in Kensington as Torres pointed a gun at officers. After his arrest, the 25-year-old Veneziale admitted he bought a 9mm Glock for Torres in exchange for three bundles of heroin, said Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for the Philadelphia District Attorney's office.

Police recovered a .25 caliber handgun on Feb. 14 registered to Veneziale during a drug raid in Port Richmond. Of the 15 guns purchased by Veneziale, only the .25 caliber and a 9mm Glock were recovered by police as the result of illegal transfers. Most of the weapons were sold back to gun stores outside of Philadelphia, Jamerson said.

When the Gun Violence Task Force interviewed Veneziale, he admitted he was addicted to heroin when he bought the guns. Background checks are designed to weed out drug users. Veneziale lied in order to pass the checks, Jamerson said.


Contact staff writer Sam Wood, at 215-854-2796, @samwoodiii or samwood@phillynews.com.

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