Former Navy Clerk Gets Four Years For Illegal Collecting

MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ A former Navy supply officer who illegally possessed dozens of machine guns was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison. David Carmel told the judge he was a harmless weapons collector, but federal prosecutor Laura Przybylinski Finn said he had thought he was above the law.

    “He decided it was OK for him to have an arsenal on his property,” she said. “He had weapons he wasn’t supposed to have. He knew it.” Carmel, 32, pleaded guilty in September to possessing 60 unregistered machine guns. He also faces federal charges in New York on suspicion of trying to sell weapon-mounted laser sights he is accused of stealing from the military.

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A tank sat in the yard of David Carmel’s home Friday at 35060 225th Ave. in the town of Ruby in Chippewa County. Carmel was arrested for allegedly stealing weapons from the U.S. government and selling them on the Internet. Leader-Telegram photo by Chris Vetter

    Federal agents learned about Carmel after discovering someone trying to sell a destroyed rifle scope on eBay in April 2006. Under a Defense Department directive, laser scopes must be destroyed when they’re no longer used. They tracked the account to Carmel, and an undercover agent asked Carmel in May to take him shooting. Carmel was arrested shortly before he was to meet the agent at the Leinenkugel’s Brewery.

    Federal agents discovered a cache of weapons on the 40 acres Carmel shares with his parents, including about 80 machine guns, a rocket launcher, artillery shells, dozens of grenades and a tank.

    U.S. District Judge John Shabaz gave Carmel less than the four-year, eight-month maximum sentence he could have received under federal guidelines. But the judge said he couldn’t believe one person could amass so many weapons.

    “What mission was the defendant pursuing by being this collector of dangerous items that could be used by others?” Shabaz said. Carmel, his voice nearly breaking at times, told Shabaz that he thought collecting the weapons was harmless, and that he had dreamed of opening a military museum of “items that shaped our world.”

    His attorney, Chris Kelly, described Carmel as an exemplary officer who graduated from the Naval Academy. He was a responsible gun collector who had very little ammunition and no shells for his mortars, Kelly said.

    Carmel served as a supply officer on the minesweeper USS Shrike and bought hundreds of unneeded laser sights, machine gun parts and night vision goggles for the ship, the New York complaint said. Carmel, a lieutenant, was relieved of his supply duties for misappropriating government property and misusing his authority. Carmel, a was relieved of his supply duties for misappropriating government property and misusing his authority. He left the Navy in 2005.

    Shabaz said it didn’t appear Carmel used his Navy position to obtain the weapons, noting that many of them were old and that the military didn’t use those models any longer. Under the plea agreement, Carmel or a person he designates will be allowed to keep any weapons that are lawful.

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