Helena pawn shop and gun dealer admits firearms crimes
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: September 21, 2021

GREAT FALLS – A Helena pawn and consignment shop operator accused of lying about gun sales and failing to keep proper records today admitted firearms crimes, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.

Catherine Suzanne Morsette, 38, of Boulder, and who is the federal firearms licensee for Modern Pawn & Consignment, pleaded guilty to two counts of false statement during a firearms transaction and to failure to keep proper records. A plea agreement calls for three other counts in an indictment to be dismissed at sentencing if the court accepts the agreement. Morsette faces a maximum five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years in prison.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Brian M. Morris presided. Chief Judge Morris set sentencing for Jan. 22, 2022. Morsette was released pending further proceedings.

The government alleged in court documents that Morsette is the federal firearms licensee for Modern Pawn & Consignment, Inc., 1330 North Montana Ave., in Helena. During an undercover investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a man and a woman went to the business where the man looked at a Beretta 9mm pistol on April 14. The man let Morsette know that he was not a Montana resident and showed his out-of-state driver’s license. Morsette told the man that the woman should fill out the ATF form because she could not sell that firearm to him. The woman completed the form as instructed and purchased the Beretta 9mm pistol for the man. Morsette then sold the man a Smith and Wesson .45-caliber pistol after she called co-defendant, Isaiah Morsette, to confirm that the .45-caliber gun was not in the store’s system. During the transaction, Morsette told the man and woman that the shop was hers and she was the boss but that her husband handled the gun stuff for her. Isaiah Morsette has pleaded not guilty to charges.

The government alleged Catherine Morsette knowingly made a false statement stating that the named purchaser of the Beretta 9mm pistol was the actual buyer, the woman, when in fact she knew the actual buyer of the firearm was the man. In addition, Catherine Morsette willfully sold and delivered a Smith and Wesson .45-caliber pistol without noting the name of the purchaser in her records as required.

The government further alleged that on April 29, a man, identified as #3, bought a Ruger .44 magnum revolver for a man identified as #2. Man #2 went to the pawn shop and interacted with Catherine Morsette, who called Isaiah Morsette for prices. After Man #3 arrived, Man #2 told Catherine Morsette that, “we’ll buy the firearm.”  Catherine Morsette told Man #3 that he had to pay, “I don’t care how you leave the store with it, but he has to pay for it.” Catherine Morsette and Man #3 then filled out the paperwork for the revolver. Catherine Morsette knowingly made a false statement by stating the named purchaser of the revolver was the actual purchaser, Man #3, when in fact she knew the actual purchaser was Man #2.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case.