Six charged in N.J. gun-trafficking ring

Posted: August 07, 2014

Members of a South Jersey gun-trafficking ring bought guns in South Carolina, brought them to New Jersey via Amtrak, and sold them in Camden, Clementon, and Lawnside, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Tuesday, announcing charges against six people.

The arrests came after an investigation, begun in April 2013, in which Special Agent Renee Repasky of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives oversaw a confidential informant's purchase of more than 20 weapons, including handguns, shotguns, rifles, and, in one case, an assault rifle.

"Every time you take a crime gun out of the hands of folks who have moved firearms from a legitimate market to an illegitimate market," George Belsky, special agent in charge of the ATF's New Jersey operations, said, "you've done something to make people safer.

"Has it stopped the flow of guns into New Jersey? No, of course it hasn't. But it was a great case. It took some guns off the street from folks who were selling guns with the purpose of making money."

One man was arrested by ATF agents late Monday, three others were arrested Tuesday morning, and two were already in state custody on unrelated charges, said a statement Tuesday from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Several of the guns had no serial number, and at least one had been reported stolen, according to the affidavits Repasky filed with the criminal complaints. The informant, who was not named, also purchased ammunition, prescription pills, cocaine, and a bulletproof vest.

Brothers Joseph Rutling, 23, of Camden, and Marcus Rutling, 32, of Camden and Saluda, S.C., were at the center of the ring, said Repasky's affidavits. Marcus Rutling often would travel to South Carolina on the weekends, the agent said, and at one meeting, Joseph Rutling told the informant that his brother would send photographs and videos of the guns via text message.

The brothers, who were already in state custody, are scheduled for their first court appearances Aug. 26.

The informant arranged a series of purchases with the Rutlings, primarily through Shawn Tribbett, 32, of Camden, Repasky said. Tribbett was arrested Monday and made an initial court appearance Tuesday in federal court in Camden.

"According to [the informant], Marcus and Joseph Rutling indicated they both transport the firearms by way of Amtrak train to New Jersey, where they are resold for profit," one affidavit reads.

Joseph Rutling's girlfriend, Katelynn Schippnick, 24, of Greeleyville, S.C., also is accused of acting as a facilitator. Two other men - Anthony Gilmore, 24, of Lawnside, and Lewis D. DiMattesa, 37, of Clementon - also were charged.

Gilmore and DiMattesa were arrested Tuesday morning and held after initial court appearances Tuesday afternoon. Schippnick was arrested Tuesday morning in South Carolina and released on bond after a court appearance. She is to appear in court Tuesday in New Jersey.

The purchases of guns, ammunition, and drugs were usually arranged in advance and then made in person outside houses in Camden, Clementon, or Lawnside, according to the affidavits.

The Rutlings, Schippnick, Tribbett, and Gilmore were charged with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Tribbett and DiMattesa also were charged with being felons in possession of a firearm, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


jlai@phillynews.com

856-779-3220 @elaijuh

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