Fashion designer with ties to Atlanta convicted on federal gun charge

The Richard B. Russell Federal Building in downtown Atlanta, where the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia is located. A U.S. District Court judge in Atlanta has sentenced fashion designer Ian Connor to a year and a day in prison on federal gun charges. (Credit: Elijah Nouvelage for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
The Richard B. Russell Federal Building in downtown Atlanta, where the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia is located. A U.S. District Court judge in Atlanta has sentenced fashion designer Ian Connor to a year and a day in prison on federal gun charges. (Credit: Elijah Nouvelage for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage

Popular fashion designer Ian Connor, whose clothing is worn by celebrities and professional athletes, is headed to federal prison for illegal firearms possession.

Connor, who grew up in Atlanta, had three prior illegal firearms convictions in California when he was arrested last July at the Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead. When Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents confronted Connor outside the hotel, he acknowledged he had a gun in his car.

In February, Connor pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Last Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg sentenced the fashion designer to one year and a day in prison, the extra day allowing Connor to be eligible for an early release under federal guidelines.

Connor’s lawyer, Brian Steel, said his client overcame a traumatic and abusive childhood to make a footprint in American culture and attract the attention of celebrities such as Kanye West. Since his arrest in Atlanta, Connor has benefited greatly from mental health treatment ordered by U.S. Magistrate Alan Baverman as a condition of his bond, Steel said.

Connor suffers from depression and anxiety, court filings said. “The treatment has helped him tremendously,” Steel said. “It probably saved his life.”

Atlanta criminal defense attorney Brian Steel. (Chris Hunt/Special)
Atlanta criminal defense attorney Brian Steel. (Chris Hunt/Special)

According to court records, Connor traveled to Georgia after being released from custody in California. On July 1, he went to a pawn shop in Jonesboro with a straw buyer and tried unsuccessfully to buy five firearms.

Two days later, the straw buyer returned to the pawn shop and bought four firearms, a ballistic vest and ammunition, prosecutors said. ATF agents and state troopers then followed the buyer to the Intercontinental Hotel where he met with Connor. Agents and troopers apprehended the fashion designer as he approached his car.

In a sentencing memo, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Plummer recommended that Connor be sentenced to 15 months in prison.

“Prior lenient sentences of probation failed to deter Connor from disregarding the fact that he is prohibited from possessing a firearm,” Plummer wrote. “There is a need to protect the public from the further crimes of the defendant.”

Plummer added, “The favorable history and characteristics of defendant Connor being self-employed as a trendsetting clothing entrepreneur are offset by his firearms fetish.”

In imposing sentence, Totenberg recommended that Connor continue to receive intensive individual and group mental health counseling during his term of confinement.

Once released from federal custody, Connor’s legal problems are far from over. Separately, state authorities in California have moved to revoke Connor’s remaining probation of five years and eight months for violating its terms and conditions there.

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