W. Va. Units had been bought to supporters of the right-wing extremist “Boogaloo” motion – CBS Pittsburgh
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – A West Virginia man pleaded guilty to a gun charge after he was accused of selling machine gun conversion equipment online to supporters of a far-right movement.
Timothy John Watson joined the plea for possession of an unregistered muffler in federal court in Martinsburg on Tuesday. Several other charges were dropped under an objection agreement.
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30-year-old Watson from Ranson faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of $ 250,000. No sentencing date was announced immediately. Prosecutors said they would seek a harsher sentence because of the severity of Watson’s alleged conduct.
Watson was charged after he was arrested in early September for allegedly running a website claiming to have sold wall hangers. Prosecutors said they wanted to show in the sentencing that the devices could actually be used to turn semi-automatic AR-15 rifles into fully automatic machine guns.
Authorities said the devices were sold to supporters of the anti-government “boogaloo” movement, the code word they use to talk about a second civil war. Their notoriety has grown during the pandemic as gun violence supporters, many in Hawaiian shirts and camouflage clothing, took part in protests against government shutdowns.
As part of the plea agreement, Watson will expire 3D printers and parts that were seized during a search in November, as well as items that prosecutors believe are conversion equipment.
The prosecutor’s clients included that Watson’s client included a California Air Force sergeant who was accused of fatally shot and killed a federal security officer and injured several security guards last May and June. Authorities said Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo had used a homemade AR-15 rifle in two shootings and was carrying equipment with evidence of the boogaloo movement.
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Prosecutors also said Watson sold the devices to two men in Minnesota who allegedly tried to help a foreign terrorist organization and built firearms suppressors they believed sold to the Hamas militant group in the Middle East.
Watson’s attorney, Shawn McDermott, had denied in a lawsuit that Watson was part of “any so-called boogaloo movement” and said his client would “reject any ideology based on violence”. He said Watson ran his wall hangers business legally and his products were not designed to make automatic machine guns, nor were a metal coat hanger.
Investigators said they linked Watson and his online business to the movement through a cooperating defendant in Minnesota who told the FBI that he learned of Watson’s website through Facebook boogaloo groups.
The social media giant attempted to take action against the group by not recommending user groups with the term “Boogaloo” to members of similar associations.
Prosecutors found cryptic comments on Watson’s social media accounts made by apparent supporters of the movement. A message between Watson’s wall mount Instagram account and a user mentioned dead “Redcoats,” an anti-government reference, according to court documents.
Prosecutors also said Watson raised money for a Maryland man whom the Boogaloo movement portrays as a martyr after he was killed by police in a dawn raid.
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