Jacksonville, Florida – U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has sentenced Gregory Austin Eward (25, Live Oak) to two years in federal prison for conspiracy to possess and transfer unregistered firearm silencers. Eward had pleaded guilty on February 27, 2023.
According to the plea agreement, Eward and his father and co-defendant, Dustin Eward, operated Eward Research Inc., a company that marketed and sold firearm silencers (also known as suppressors) over the internet. In lightly coded language, their website, ewardresearch.com, advertised the sale of combinations of parts designed and intended for use in assembling firearm silencers – never using the term “silencer,” but referring to individual components as “toobz,” threaded “end caps,” “spacers,” and “spools.” Sales could be completed with either cash or cryptocurrency. The website included photographs of the items for sale, which were identifiable as components of firearms silencers.
In January and again in February 2022, an undercover ATF Special Agent ordered three silencers from the Ewards, paying for them with cryptocurrency. Surveillance video from a post office showed Gregory Eward mailing one of the parcels containing silencers that the agent eventually received.
The devices were examined by an ATF Firearms Enforcement Officer and firearms expert who concluded that the devices were consistent in design and construction with firearms silencers and he recognized the devices to be firearms silencers. These silencers were not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, as required by federal law.
At the time of his arrest, on May 9, 2022, Gregory Eward had a Glock-type handgun on the back seat of the car. The pistol had no serial number and was loaded. Agents also located three rifle bump-stocks in the car’s open trunk. These devices also had no serial numbers.
On May 10, 2022, FBI and ATF Special Agents executed a search warrant at the Ewards’s home. They located approximately 105 firearms, over 12,000 rounds of ammunition, and 35 assembled firearms silencers. There was also a sufficient quantity of parts (including metallic tubes, baffles, and threaded endcaps), which were designed or redesigned, and intended for use in assembling or fabricating more than 300 additional firearm silencers.
Gregory Eward’s co-defendant, Dustin Eward, is scheduled for trial in October 2023. He has been charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute unregistered silencers, possession of unregistered silencers, transfer of unregistered silencers, and threatening to assault and murder a federal law enforcement officer. An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office, the Live Oak Police Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, and the Lake City Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kirwinn Mike, Michael J. Coolican, and Cherie Krigsman.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.