GULFPORT -- Seven people pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal charges they stole 48 firearms, including machine guns, and tried to sell them.
The seven were indicted last week in U.S. District Court on charges of stealing firearms from a licensed federal firearms dealer, receiving stolen firearms and unlawful transfer or possession of a machine gun.
They are LaKeith Smith, 20; Theodore Towne, 20; Kenneth Knox, 46, Aubrey Knox, 35; Princeton Knox, 34; Catina Towne-Henderson, 41; and Jessica Romero, 25.
Damien Towne, 24, was taken into custody on unrelated charges, and has not yet been brought to federal court for an initial appearance.
Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said in earlier interviews Smith arranged to "hit a lick," or burglarize a firearms dealer's Moss Point home while the dealer was out of town. He returned home May 27 and discovered the firearms had been stolen. The break-in was reported to Moss Point police.
Smith, Theodore Towne and Damien Towne are suspected of breaking into
the home and stealing the weapons.
A federal agent has testified Romero had her two children with her when the men dropped her off before the burglary at a house on West Park Drive in Gautier, and she helped them unload the guns.
Agents went to the house and an adjacent house but found only a few of the weapons. Towne-Henderson lived in the one of the houses.
Kenneth Knox allegedly admitted he sold six guns to one of the brothers. Federal agents believe Aubrey Knox bought them and hid them at the home of Princeton Knox. There, an agent said, they found three guns buried in a burn pile and three machine guns in a locked vehicle.
Fourteen of the firearms have been recovered. The remainder are still on the streets.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Walker has set a trial date for Aug. 4.
Each of the charges carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.