Vegas man gets 5 years for Iraq weapon conspiracy

AP News
Posted: Oct 28, 2011 2:48 PM
Vegas man gets 5 years for Iraq weapon conspiracy

A Las Vegas man who helped federal prosecutors convict an active-duty Navy SEAL of selling war weapons and machine guns from Iraq in the U.S. was sentenced Friday to five years in prison.

Omar Aguirre, 36, apologized to U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Las Vegas and blamed his participation in the weapons trafficking conspiracy on an acute addiction to painkillers that he said he has been working to overcome.

Aguirre said therapy he has received since his arrest almost a year ago also helped him deal with the effects of childhood molestation.

"I know I'm going to be locked up," he told the judge. "But at least in my mind and heart and soul, I'm free."

Aguirre and two other men pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors in a case that led a federal jury to find Petty Officer Nicholas Bickle guilty earlier this month of 13 federal conspiracy, weapons, machine gun and explosives charges.

Bickle, 34, of San Diego, headed the weapons selling scheme, according to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents and federal prosecutors. He could face decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines at sentencing Feb. 3, but sentencing guidelines are expected to get him a prison sentence of less than 20 years. He also faces discharge from the military.

Aguirre pleaded guilty Dec. 23 to conspiracy to sell firearms without a license. Prosecutor Timothy Vasquez told Hunt on Friday that Aguirre kept his promise to help investigate and prosecute Bickle.

Hunt sentenced Aguirre to the statutory maximum, ordered him to serve three years of supervised release after prison, and allowed him to remain free until Jan. 6.

Two other former co-defendants who cooperated with prosecutors are scheduled for sentencing Jan. 6.

Richard Paul, 35, of Durango, Colo., faces 15 years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine after pleading guilty in January to conspiracy and explosives transport charges. ATF agents reported finding five pounds of military C-4 explosives at his home.

Andrew Kaufman, 37, of Las Vegas, faces five years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine. He pleaded guilty last December to conspiracy and illegal transfer of a machine gun charges.