BY ALISON GENDAR
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU CHIEF
Posted Sunday, July 15th 2007, 4:00 AM
He's the poster child for the state's tough new gun law.
Peguy Desir, a 28-year-old Manhattan gun runner, sold NYPD undercover cops 83 guns during a year-long sting operation, police said.
Until the new law was passed, he only faced a slap on the wrist for allegedly supplying dangerous criminals with handguns. Under the new legislation, he faces more jail time for a single gun sale than he had faced for three prior busts combined.
"The message on the subway ad campaign we launched says it best - 'Illegal possession of a loaded gun now carries a minimum of 3-1/2 years in prison. Period. End of Story,'" Mayor Bloomberg told the Daily News.
The law changed the crime from a Class D to a Class C felony. Albany passed the changes last June. When Gov. Pataki signed the legislation into law last November, penalties jumped from one to seven years for a loaded weapon to a minimum of 3-1/2 years to a maximum of 15 years.
Gunmen with prior felonies faced even stiffer sentences. Desir's case straddles the recent change in the law. Cops say he would sell heroin and crack cocaine down South, then turn around and use the profits to buy guns.
He'd hire people to buy the weapons in Virginia and other states where fewer questions are asked of potential gun buyers.
"The profit margin for gun traffickers can be very attractive," said Sgt. Pat Acri of the NYPD's firearms investigative unit, which led the investigation.
Undercover cops began buying guns from Desir in January 2006. "It started slowly, but by the end of the operation we were buying guns off of him every couple of weeks," Acri said.
The old gun laws were in place in March 2006, when undercover cops bought a .45-caliber Hi-Point and a .45-caliber Llama, both loaded, and an unloaded 9-mm. Hi-Point from the crew, police said.
If convicted, Desir could get off with just a year for each of those loaded guns.
But eight months later, and five days into the law gun laws, cops bought a machine pistol 9-mm. Kel-Tec. That one sale carries the possibility of more time in jail than the three guns purchased in March. Desir's crew sold the guns to undercover cops in Flatbush, Coney Island and the South Street Seaport, completing the deals in unmarked cars on the street, police said.
The haul included an array of semi-automatic pistols and even a .39-caliber Soviet MK99 semi-automatic rifle. Ammo was usually tossed in as an extra, police said.
Desir and his alleged partner, Joshua Pierre, 30, of Irvington, N.J., were arraigned in March and are awaiting trial. They are among the NYPD's 1,700 gun-related arrests this year.
Their gang's third man, Rahman Grimsley, 24, was caught this month in New Jersey. He had two guns and 200 rounds of ammunition on him when he was arrested.