Former USD 410 advocate pleads guilty to firearms charge

A Newton woman pleaded guilty Thursday to concealing from authorities that a convicted felon unlawfully possessed firearms that he later used in a shooting incident at Excel Industries, Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.

Sarah T. Hopkins, 28, pleaded guilty to failing to report to authorities that convicted felon Cedric Ford unlawfully possessed a firearm.

In her plea, Hopkins admitted that on Feb. 5 she redeemed an AK-47 rifle from a pawn shop in Newton and gave it to Ford. On Feb. 25, investigators recovered the rifle and a handgun at Excel Industries in Newton where Ford shot three people to death before being killed in a shootout with police.

Hopkins was a preschool family advocate for USD 410 at the time of the incident. Hopkins began her employment with the district in August 2015; the board of education terminated her employment Feb. 28.

Sentencing is set for Nov. 28. Hopkins faces up to three years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.

Beall commended the following agencies: the Hesston Police Department, the Harvey County Sheriff’s Department, the Newton Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the FBI, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Lind for their work on the case.

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