Couple behind bars on gun charges had modified flare launcher

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville man and his longtime girlfriend have been sentenced to prison for gun charges after authorities said they sold weapons to an informant.

Robert Deen, 60, and Shannon Heller, 42, will spend three years and six months in federal prison, a judge ruled.

Deen was charged with possessing firearms while using drugs and Heller was charged with possessing firearms as a felon.

Heller pleaded guilty Jan. 24 and Deen pleaded guilty March 12.

According to court documents, in late November 2018, Deen and Heller were living in a Gate Parkway apartment when a confidential informant told an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives that Deen had firearms to sell, including AR-type rifles. 

At the time, Deen had been referred to a felony drug court diversion program in Duval County following his arrest in October 2018 for possessing cocaine and a handgun.

On Dec. 3 and 6, 2018, Heller, who was Deen’s long-time girlfriend, sold a total of three rifles and two pistols to the confidential informant, at Deen’s direction. 

At the time of the incident, Deen was a habitual drug user and Heller was a convicted felon, meaning neither was allowed to possess firearms or ammunition under federal law.  

On Dec. 7, 2018, ATF executed a search warrant at the couple’s apartment and recovered two rifles, a pistol, a shotgun, and a flare launcher with bore adapters that converted it into a destructive device. Both Heller and Deen were arrested the same day. 

Heller admitted that she had traded two other firearms to drug dealers in order to settle drug debts.