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Taiwan terror suspect's parents could face 7 years in jail for straw purchase of gun

Taiwan terror suspect's parents could face 7 years in jail for allowing minor buy gun and ammo with credit card

Sun Peng and Di Ying (Left), An Tso Sun (right). (Images from Facebook)

Sun Peng and Di Ying (Left), An Tso Sun (right). (Images from Facebook)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The parents of Taiwanese terror suspect An Tso "Edward" Sun (孫安佐) were advised on a Facebook post by writer Lee Wen (李文) that they could face up to seven years in a Pennsylvania jail or 10 years in federal prison for in effect making a straw purchase of a gun and ammunition for Sun.

In a Facebook post uploaded at 5:40 p.m., Lee said that because the credit card Sun used to buy a gun and ammunition was provided and authorized by his celebrity parents actor Sun Peng (孫鵬) and opera singer Di Ying (狄鶯), despite the fact that he was a minor on a student visa, they could face serious jail time in both state and federal prisons for enabling a straw purchase.

A straw purchase is when a person purchases a firearm for an individual who his prohibited from purchasing such a weapon. In the state of Pennsylvania, it is a third degree felony to enable a person under the age of 21 to buy a firearm and is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine of US$15,000.

In the case of federal law, Lee indicated that if Sun or his parents falsified ATF Form 4473 when purchasing his 9 mm gun, they could be subject to up to 10 years in prison.

Lee said that it was fortunate that both of Sun's parents had already returned to Taiwan because they could be facing both state and federal charges for enabling straw purchases. As Taiwan and the U.S. do not have an extradition treaty, as long as the parents stay in Taiwan, they should be safe from prosecution, said Lee.

Lee said that the U.S. federal government is doing Sun a favor, "Otherwise arriving in a small town for only four months, not diligently studying, acting this crazy, being so capricious, going on an ammunition and gun buying spree, and joking about terrorism could have all led to a tragic ending, that couldn't be taken back. In the end, who would be to blame?"

On March 31, Di and the senior Sun, landed in the U.S. to mount a defense for their son after he was arrested on March 27 and charged with making "terroristic threats" for telling a classmate that he would "shoot up" their school and for possessing "instruments of crime."

Though the celebrity's lawyer was able to arrange a plea deal after Sun agreed to apologize for his actions and plead guilty to making "terroristic threats" in exchange for a suspended sentence, he was immediately handed over to federal authorities who then charged him with possessing ammunition while on a nonimmigrant visa.

The maximum sentence possible for this felony offense is 10 years in jail, a US$250,000 fine and three years supervised release. At a press conference, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said that Sun would be permanently banned from returning to the U.S. after he is deported and the federal sentence would be in addition to the penalties handed down by the Delaware County court.

Sun's parents had originally thought that their son would be released as soon as mid April, but because additional charges were added, including possessing "instruments of crime" and now the new federal charges, their stay in the U.S. was greatly extended.

All told, it is estimated that Sun's parents have spent NT$90 million on their son's legal defense, thus far. However, the couple has amassed a fortune estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of Taiwan dollars, including nine other homes in Taiwan, as well as real estate in Japan.

Updated : 2022-05-28 18:07 GMT+08:00