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Dawn Nguyen enters federal court on Jan. 29, 2013. She was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday, March, 14, 2013, in connection with guns she purchased that were in the hands of William Spengler Jr. on Christmas Eve. (Gannett, Tina Yee/Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle) / Tina Yee, Rochester, N.Y., Democrat and Chronicle

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- A 24-year-old New York woman was indicted Thursday on federal charges in connection with guns used by a former neighbor in the Christmas Eve shooting of four volunteer firefighters in Webster, N.Y.

A federal grand jury indicted Dawn Nguyen on three counts: knowingly making a false statement in connection with a firearm purchase; providing guns to William Spengler Jr., a felon; and possessing guns while illegally using marijuana.

Nguyen bought a shotgun and semiautomatic rifle from Gander Mountain, an outdoors store, in Henrietta, N.Y., south of Rochester in 2010, when she was neighbors with Spengler on Lake Road in Webster.

Nguyen allegedly admitted that Spengler helped her pick out the guns, which she claimed in an interview with investigators were later stolen, court papers say.

As a convicted felon, Spengler was banned from owning guns. He served 17 years in state prison for killing his grandmother with a hammer in 1980. Nguyen lived next door to Spengler for about five years, in the house where he killed his grandmother.

Spengler had the guns with him Dec. 24 when he ignited an inferno and ambushed first responders, killing two West Webster firefighters and injuring two others before killing himself. His sister, Cheryl Spengler, is also presumed to have been killed, but police have not yet identified the body found in the burned Spengler house.

Each of the three charges against Nguyen carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

While a judge could sentence Nguyen to maximum penalties if she were convicted, federal sentences typically rely on advisory sentencing guidelines, which consider criteria such as the offense and a person's past criminal conduct.

In turn, sentences are often less -- and sometimes significantly so -- than the possible maximums.

Nguyen's lawyer, Matthew Parrinello, said Thursday that he is still waiting for more documentation from federal prosecutors.

"Hopefully this will lead to some more meaningful discovery so we can find out what, if any, additional information the government has and then respond a little more in detail to the charges in the indictment," he said.

Parrinello said he "wasn't totally aware of" the marijuana charge, which had not previously been disclosed.

"We're intrigued by that charge as far as what evidence they have," he said. "I'm not sure where they get that from."

U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr. said in a news release that the case would proceed "as expeditiously as possible." Nguyen's next scheduled federal court date is April 1, but she probably will be arraigned Monday morning.

The Monroe County (N.Y.) District Attorney's Office intends to present similar state charges to a grand jury.

The Nguyen case has been cited by legislators attempting to enact stricter penalties against "straw purchasers" who knowingly buy guns for people not allowed to have them, such as Spengler.

One of the men shot Christmas Eve, firefighter Ted Scardino, testified at a forum in Washington, D.C., this week, encouraging Congress to pass a law that would give 25 years in prison to people who make straw purchases when they have reason to suspect the recipient intends to commit a violent crime.

In the Nguyen case, Hochul said, "there is no allegation (she) was aware that William Spengler would kill two first responders and seriously injure two others. ... (But) this case should serve as a warning to any individual who attempts to facilitate the actions of a criminal."

Nguyen, who now lives in Greece, N.Y., remains free on her own recognizance.

Contributing: Gary Craig, Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Woman indicted over guns in N.Y. firefighter ambush

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