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RI CRIME

Federal judge orders Burrillville man who stockpiled 200 guns to remain in custody

After receiving new information, the judge said Ronald Armand Andruchuk’s ability manipulate to people and to evade law enforcement meant there was no way to be sure he’d follow the conditions of his release.

Some of the firearms found in the basement of Ronald Andruchuk's home in Burrillville, where they were strewn about and stored in piles.US District Court of Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE — A federal judge ordered a Burrillville man accused of illegally stockpiling more than 200 firearms to remain in federal custody, saying it would be impossible to keep anyone safe from him.

Ronald A. Andruchuk of Burrillville, R.I.Burrillville police

US Magistrate Justice Patricia A. Sullivan decided Friday to detain Ronald Armand Andruchuk after reading two sealed documents from federal prosecutors that she said revealed “incredibly troubling” problems with drugs and mental health, explosive rage, and an obsession with firearms.

“Given the evidence of manipulation, manipulation of family and manipulation of others, I don’t see how our pretrial services officers can supervise this situation and how mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment is going to be effective in the way that it has to be in order for the community and specific individuals to be safe,” Sullivan said.

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His “addictive disease has led to not just explosive expressions of rage, but actual violence, extreme recklessness in the handling of firearms, that ... rises to an obsession that has led to neglect of the family,” she added.

Andruchuk, 37, did not speak as he watched the remote hearing from the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls, where he has been held since his arrest on Feb. 24.

Andruchuk worked as an unlicensed counselor at the DaVinci Center in Providence and was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for a House seat representing Cranston, where he used to live. He drew attention from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive when he suddenly began buying masses of firearms within a few months last year. Then, he moved his wife and their three young sons from Cranston to Burrillville in December 2021, into a house that he bought with cash that he said came from investments in cryptocurrency, and began shooting guns at all hours.

Neighbors record gunshots from R.I. man illegally stockpiling more than 200 guns
Shocking video from neighbors of man who was illegally stockpiling over 200 guns captures gunshots ripping through the woods.

When police went to arrest him on Feb. 24 for shooting into a neighbor’s yard — and over officers’ heads — they found more than 200 firearms strewn throughout the house, in piles in the basement, and even in the yard, according to police and court records. Andruchuk greeted police on his property while wearing a “battle belt” with four handguns, knives, and drugs in the pouches.

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Andruchuk is charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, because of his alleged drug use; making false statements to purchase firearms; and causing false records to be kept by licensed firearms dealers.

He is also facing charges from authorities in Massachusetts for an incident in December when he allegedly hid two handguns and flashlights containing cocaine, oxycodone, and amphetamines in the ceiling of a men’s bathroom at the Tractor Supply Co. in Millbury, Mass.

Burrillville police are charging him with firing in a compact area, a misdemeanor, and he is expected to face a felony charge of possessing a ghost gun and several kits.

A "Ghost Gun" short barrel rifle recovered from master bedroom closet at Ronald Andruchuk's home. US District Court of Rhode Island
Gun assembly items seized from Ronald Andruchuk's home.US District Court of Rhode Island

Those who have been convicted of a felony or who are drug users are not allowed to buy firearms. Andruchuk is accused of lying on the applications, when he denied using drugs, according to court records.

Sullivan had been prepared to set conditions to release Andruchuk on March 8 when the federal prosecutors filed two documents to support of holding him without bail. The documents remained under seal Friday, although Sullivan, the federal prosecutor, and the federal public defender spoke obliquely about what they contained.

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Assistant US Attorney Ronald Gendron spoke about weapons that were described in one of the filing and “special cases” that had been purchased for a certain goal, which he didn’t specify. He also referred to communication Andruchuk had with someone in December: “Are we going to do this? We have to do this tonight.”

When the ATF agents searched Andruchuk’s secluded home in February, they didn’t find the special cases, which led them to conclude that intended goal was accomplished, Gendron said.

Even though federal public defender Kevin Fitzgerald said Andruchuk has promised to walk with police through his 11-acre property and two-story home and point out any firearms they didn’t seize, Gendron said there was no way they could trust him.

If Andruchuk was released, there was no way to guarantee that he wouldn’t have access to firearms, either by getting them himself or having someone else get them for him, Gendron said.

Sullivan had initially set bail in this case, but the US attorney’s office appealed, saying that it would be impossible to prevent Andruchuk from obtaining guns.

US District Court Chief Justice John J. McConnell Jr. denied the appeal on Monday, finding that the government had not shown “clear and convincing evidence that there is no combination of conditions that would reasonably assure the safety of the community.”

Then, Sullivan received new information about Andruchuk’s case and changed her mind about releasing him. Some of the very factors that had been in his favor — his education and work as a counselor, and his family ties — took on a different light.

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“I don’t now believe that court ordered mental health as a condition is going to be effective,” Sullivan said. “I find that court ordered substance abuse treatment will be evaded and manipulated. I find that a court order to stay away from a family member to keep that family member safe is not going to be complied with.”

Andruchuk had access to mental health treatment already. His ability to evade law enforcement and skill in manipulation would mean that supervision, even home confinement, could not assure that he’d follow the conditions, Sullivan said.

“I don’t know what the diagnosis is, but what the evidence reveals is a level of mental health and substance abuse disorder that is deep, appears to be intractable, that treatment has been available, accessed, but seemingly manipulated,” she added.

Some of the firearms found in the basement of Ronald Andruchuk's home in Burrillville, R.I.US District Court of Rhode Island

Amanda Milkovits can be reached at amanda.milkovits@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMilkovits.