PORTLAND — A Livermore Falls woman who bought a half-dozen guns for her drug dealer was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to probation.

Erin Searles, 43, was paid in cash and crack cocaine for the six guns she bought in 2022 for a man who had served as her drug dealer, according to court papers.

Abdullahi “T” Issak, 26, of Lewiston was sentenced in federal court last week to 10 years in prison after he had admitted to an illegal gun-buying conspiracy and to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Searles pleaded guilty in May to a felony charge of making false statements during the purchase of firearms from a licensed firearm dealer.

She had bought the guns with money from Issak and turned them over to him afterward, according to court papers.

With each purchase, Searles provided false information on forms at the gun shops when asked whether she was the “actual transferee/buyer of the firearms,” prosecutors said.


On Wednesday, U. S. District Court Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. sentenced Searles to three years of probation during which she is barred from having any illegal narcotics, alcohol or guns and from being with anyone who does.

She must enroll in a substance abuse treatment program as directed by her probation officer, Woodcock said.

From the end of June through mid-August 2022, Searles bought four Glock .40-caliber pistols, one Glock 9 mm pistol and one Glock .45-caliber pistol from federally licensed gun dealers in Turner.

Only one of those guns was recovered, Woodcock said.

He said Issak was funneling roughly 70 guns bought through “straw” purchases by other people for him that were shipped to Springfield, Mass., and Syracuse, New York, and have been linked to illegal activities there, such as drug deals.

Woodcock called “straw” purchasing “an extraordinarily serious thing to do.”


He said Searles “had to know Mr. Issak was not getting guns for target practice.”

By purchasing guns for Issak, “you’ve unleashed five firearms on the streets … and someone ‘s going to get hurt,” Woodcock told her.

The sixth gun, a Glock .40-caliber pistol, was recovered by authorities and on Wednesday Searles forfeited her ownership of it.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Noah Falk said Wednesday that “straw” purchasing is a “huge problem” in Maine.

Searles appealed to Woodcock not to send her to prison.

She said she endured years of domestic abuse, had two children and was a grandmother.

Her relationship with her biological father, “who was a violent drug and alcohol abuser, was a traumatic one. She felt hatred from her father and was never able to reconcile where his feelings came from,” Searles’ attorney, James Mason, wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

She became a mother when she was 14 years old. “As she grew older, Erin’s relationships with nearly all the men (in which) she was involved (came with) the same type of emotional and physical abuse,” Mason wrote.

Searles was diagnosed with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and has struggled with substance abuse, including narcotics, heroin and fentanyl.

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