Peñitas chief of staff pleads not guilty to firearms charges

Peñitas Chief of Staff Andy Morales pleaded not guilty to four gun charges on Wednesday.

Morales pleaded not guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and three counts of making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm.

Morales waived his right to a formal, in-person arraignment and entered his plea in writing. U.S. Magistrate Judge Nadia Medrano accepted the plea on Wednesday.

Attorney Ricardo Montalvo of McAllen, who represents Morales, declined to comment.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested Andres “Andy” Morales, 42, of Mission on May 11.

Morales purchased a pistol from Bass Pro Shops in 2016 and two rifles from Glick Twins in 2017, according to the indictment. When he bought the weapons, Morales filled out standard ATF forms that asked whether or not he had been convicted of a felony.

He answered “No,” according to the indictment.

Morales, however, had pleaded guilty to possession of more than 50 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds of marijuana, a second-degree felony, in 2006.

What prompted the ATF to review the old forms remains unclear.

The criminal complaint against Morales noted the ATF reviewed the documents “in connection with an investigation” but didn’t provide any details.

A grand jury indicted Morales on June 2. If convicted, Morales faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

 

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