A former Navy SEAL who was sentenced to 17 ½ years in prison after being found guilty of illegal weapons sales on July 17 had his judgment affected by post-traumatic stress disorder developed while serving two tours of duty in the Iraq war, his attorney said. However, the judge did not accept the attorney's plea for leniency when imposing the long sentence, instead finding that the defendant led a conspiracy to sell guns, ammunition and accessories imported into the U.S.
Prosecutors accused the defendant, 34, of conspiring with two of his friends and an arms dealer to sell military weaponry to private buyers. They described him as the leader of the scheme, though the defense attorney said that he merely went "along for the ride and [was] not a mastermind."
He said at the sentencing hearing that his client suffers from severe PTSD after serving in Iraq that has taken away his ability to tell right from wrong. He said that his client got caught up in the conspiracy and implied that the other three co-defendants have made him a fall guy by pleading guilty and cooperating with federal prosecutors.
Among the weapons presented at trial as belonging to the defendant were AK-47 assault rifles, submachine guns, handguns and a sniper rifle. Five pounds of C-4 explosive were also found at a friend's house.
The defense attorney said his client would appeal the conviction and the lengthy sentence. A curious comment by the prosecutor at the sentencing might be a basis for the planned appeal. While arguing for a long prison sentence, he mentioned an incident in the defendant's home state where a gunman killed four people and wounded seven others at a restaurant.
That attack had not connection to the defendant or the weapons sales, bringing its relevance during the proceedings into serious question.
Source: York Dispatch, "Ex-Navy SEAL gets nearly 18 years in weapons case," Ken Ritter, July 17, 2012
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