By Curtis Skinner
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A western New York woman pleaded guilty on Thursday to illegally supplying guns to a man who killed a policeman and a firefighter in a 2012 Christmas Eve ambush, officials said.
Dawn Nguyen, 25, admitted purchasing a semiautomatic rifle and 12-gauge shotgun for William Spengler, a convicted felon, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York said.
Spengler deliberately set fire to his house in Webster, about 12 miles east of Rochester, then ambushed the responding firefighters and police from behind an embankment in the predawn attack, police said.
Nguyen, who has been convicted on state charges stemming from the incident, admitted to a U.S. district judge that she acted as a straw buyer, pretending the guns were for her own use, and sold them to Spengler, the prosecutor said.
Spengler spent 17 years in prison for beating his 92-year-old grandmother to death with a hammer in 1981, authorities said. As a convicted felon, Spengler could not legally own guns.
"While today’s convictions cannot possibly bring these brave men back, or relieve the pain of the families and those wounded in the Christmas Eve attack, this defendant will in fact shortly receive her just punishment for all the harm she caused," U.S. Attorney William Hochul said in a statement.
Each of the three gun charges carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Nguyen is to be sentenced on Aug. 28.
The attack killed Webster Police Lieutenant Michael Chiapperini and West Webster firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka and seriously injured two others. An off-duty police officer driving past the scene suffered a minor shrapnel wound.
Spengler was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said. A note Spengler left behind indicated his intent to kill, police said.
"I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighborhood I can burn down and do what I like doing best, killing people," Spengler's note read, according to police.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jim Loney)