An Upper Darby man pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to illegally purchasing 23 handguns for a friend last year at stores in Philadelphia and Montgomery and Delaware Counties.

Nafez Hutchings, 22, entered the plea to 12 counts of providing false information to a federal firearms licensee. He will be sentenced in August and could face prison and supervised release for each count.

Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said her office is treating anyone who helped purchase a gun used in a crime as if they had pulled the trigger themselves.

“Our office is doing all we can to stem the tide of violent crime in Philadelphia, including indicting and prosecuting criminals who possess firearms when they’re prohibited by law from doing so,” Williams said. “But the efforts of law enforcement to keep guns out of the wrong hands are thwarted every time someone straw purchases a weapon like this defendant did, 23 times over.”

Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were led to Hutchings after records of his purchases were entered into an electronic database, according to the affidavit of probable cause for his arrest. He had bought the guns during 12 trips to stores between June and August 2020.

Authorities recovered one of the weapons, but said the others are still unaccounted for.

When the agents went to the address in Southwest Philadelphia that Hutchings listed on the purchasing paperwork, they found that the property had been vacant for some time. They later tracked Hutchings down to his current address in Upper Darby, and he agreed to be interviewed, the affidavit said.

During the interview, Hutchings admitted to making the purchases for a friend who provided him with gas money and, occasionally, payment. He told the investigators he didn’t believe he was doing anything wrong, according to the affidavit.

Hutchings’ attorney, Mythri A. Jayaraman, said he “takes full responsibility for his actions.”

“As soon as he was sitting down with ATF, he immediately told them he purchased these guns, and that the address he gave was an address he had lived previously,” she said. “And he understands on these forms that it’s very important to give a current, legal address.”