Saratoga County man pleads guilty to drug and ‘ghost gun’ charges


This photo provided by the U.S. Department of Justice shows AR-15 lower receivers, which federal agents have seized, including these unfinished ones taken in 2014 in California, for firearms investigations nationwide. For decades, the federal government has treated the mechanism called the lower receiver as the essential piece of the semiautomatic rifle, which has been used in some of the nation’s deadliest mass shootings. But some defense attorneys have recently argued that the part alone does not meet the definition in the law. (U.S. Department of Justice via AP)

EDINBURG, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A Saratoga County man has pled guilty to firearm charges, which include the manufacture of hard to trace “ghost guns” and a methamphetamine charge. On Wednesday, Christopher Montano, 36, of Edinburg, pled guilty to unlawfully conspiring to deal, possess, transfer and make unregistered firearms, and to distributing methamphetamine.

Montano admitted that between August and October 2019, he, along with Michael Castelluccio, conspired to build and sell firearms from component parts ordered online. These firearms, which lack serial numbers, are difficult for law enforcement officials to trace and are commonly known as “ghost guns”.

Governor Cuomo came out in favor of banning “ghost guns” in New York State during his 2020 State of the State address. Legislation has since passed through the Senate and is currently awaiting a vote in the State Assembly.

The charges the 36-year-old admitted to fall under federal firearms laws. He pled guilty to conspiring to possess and transfer short-barreled rifles, which are rifles with barrels less than 16 inches long, and admitted to doing so without having filed an application with or received approval from the Secretary of the Department of the Treasury, or paying the tax required by federal law.

Montano also pled guilty to selling more than 50 grams of methamphetamine, which he agreed to forfeit the proceeds from.

Montano faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum sentence of life, a fine of up to $10 million, and a term of supervised release of up to life. The Edinburgh resident is due to be sentenced in June.

Last year, Montano’s accomplice0 Michael Castelluccio pled guilty to building and selling rifles with barrels under 16 inches long without applying, paying federally-required taxes, or being approved by the Secretary of the Department of the Treasury.

He is due to be sentenced in April, where he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years. Castelluccio also agreed to forfeit a pickup truck that he used to transport the firearms.

This case was investigated by the ATF and HSI, as well as the Schenectady County and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Offices.

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