In this city of hustlers, many of those with the privilege of extra room in their apartments will use that space for their hobbies or side gigs: an art studio, a houseplant collection, or — in the cases of two men convicted by the Manhattan District Attorney this month — making D.I.Y. unregulated and unregistered firearms, widely known as ghost guns.
A jarring group chat message
The first guilty plea came from 42-year-old Cory Davis, an Upper East Side resident who was first arrested last November, after he shared a photo of his 7-year-old son holding two ghost guns with a family and friends group chat, reports the DA’s office. The photo alarmed one of the group chat members, who then alerted the NYPD. When the police entered Davis’s Upper East Side apartment, which he used as an office separate from his family’s residence, they found two guns and some ammunition, laying out in the open on the floor.
Authorities say a more thorough search of the apartment by police investigators uncovered 12 more semi-automatic pistols, all of which were ghost guns. They also found “400 rounds of ammunition, a high-capacity magazine, and nearly two dozen other magazines, as well as tools and parts for constructing ghost guns,” according to the DA’s report. He was indicted with 34 felony weapon possession counts in November last year, and pleaded guilty to three of them on Nov. 8 this year. He will be sentenced to 3 ½ years in state prison and 2 ½ years of post-release supervision in early 2024.
Davis was the CEO of the consultancy Princeton Brand Econometrics, according to the company’s website and his 2011 New York Times wedding announcement. His lawyer, Jeremy Saland, did not respond to our emailed request for comment.
An East Village gun factory
The second guilty plea came from 36-year-old Cliffie Thompson, who operated what authorities describe as a “sophisticated ghost gun factory” in his East Village apartment. Thompson was initially arrested in mid-January, for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. Before and after his arrest, authorities say, he contacted and told a woman to remove equipment from his apartment. When police conducted a search of the apartment the day following his arrest, they found equipment and materials used to manufacture gun parts, including two 3D printers and printing material, as well as gun parts at different stages of assembly. The search also uncovered approximately 36 forged credit cards, according to the DA’s report.
Thompson was indicted with 68 felony counts at the time of his arrest, including for weapon possession, firearm sales, evidence tampering, and possession of forged instruments. He pleaded guilty to 10 of those charges on Nov. 15, and will be sentenced in January to five years in state prison followed by three years of post-release supervision. Thompson’s lawyer was not available for comment at the phone number listed on court records.
These two cases are part of the city law enforcement’s ongoing effort to crack down on the manufacture and distribution of ghost guns in New York City. Several high-profile cases have emerged in this effort, including the discovery of ghost guns in an East Harlem daycare in September.
In a statement about Cory Davis’s case, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg said, “Using one’s child as a prop to showcase homemade, illegal weapons is inexcusable and extremely dangerous. The proliferation of ghost guns in our city cannot continue.”