For Kent man, illegal online gun sale results in prison sentence



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Posted on June 29, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 29 at 5:42 PM

In a rare prosecution, a Kent man is headed for prison for selling the gun used in an interstate murder.

Benedict Ladera on Friday apologized for putting a .40 caliber handgun in the hands of a Canadian citizen who killed the Chicago woman he briefly dated.

“I’m sorry that I am a part of this,” Ladera said through tears at the U.S. District courthouse in Seattle.  “My mistake was a reason a life was lost.”

Ladera was sentenced Friday to a year in jail and three years of supervised release.

Ladera was contacted by Dimitri Smirnov of Surrey, BC, after Ladera listed his handgun for sale on, described as an E-bay for guns.

After the purchase, Smirnov traveled to Illinois in April 2011 and used the gun to track and kill Jitka Vesel.

Prosecutors charged Ladera with illegal transfer of a firearm, because he knew Smirnov was a Canadian citizen. Knowing Smirnov's nationality, Ladera accepted $200 above his advertised price for the gun.

Vesel’s longtime friend, Theresa O’Rourke, traveled from Chicago to speak at Ladera’s sentencing a Friday's sentencing.

She told Ladera the gun was key to Smirnov’s methodical plan to kill Vesel. The victim ran away from Smirnov with two bullets in her “only to have her beautiful face shot off by your gun,” said O’Rourke at the hearing.