Former Soldier Sentenced for Illegal Sale of Automatic Firearms Obtained in Iraq

Guns Were Subsequently Used in a Series of Washington, D.C. Bank Robberies

GREENBELT (Nov. 18, 2008)—U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, sentenced Leonard Stephan Lockley, age 28, of Bowie, Maryland, Monday to 21 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for receiving and selling machine guns that he secreted out of Iraq while deployed as an Army soldier near Baghdad, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Lockley pleaded guilty to those charges on January 7, 2008.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein stated, "Whenever we catch a criminal using a gun, we ask ATF to trace the gun to the source. We must stop the flow of illegal guns to criminals."

According to court documents, in October 2003 a witness observed Lockley placing the component parts of four AK-47-style rifles into a large black metal chest containing a false bottom. At the time, Lockley was deployed near Baghdad, Iraq under orders from the U.S. Army. Lockley told the witness that he had the chest with the false bottom made and was using it to send the guns to the United States. In mid- to late-2003, a second witness also observed Lockley in possession of at least four firearms, which the second witness described as AK-47 style rifles and a machine gun. Lockley told this second witness that he purchased the firearms from an Iraqi and planned to send them back to the United States in a box with a false bottom, which he showed to the witness.

Lockley was redeployed to the United States in February 2004. In March, Omar Holmes received a telephone call from Roland L. Chase, age 29, of Landover, Maryland, who stated that he knew someone who had fully automatic “AKs” for sale. Chase gave the phone to Lockely, whom Holmes recognized as a childhood friend. Lockley and Holmes agreed on a purchase price of $6,000 for five firearms. They met at a predetermined location in Prince George’s County where Lockley removed a large, green “Army-type” bag from the trunk of Chase’s car and showed Holmes the firearms. They then went to a warehouse area located on Frohlich Lane in Hyattsville, Maryland and test-fired at least two of the weapons in fully automatic mode. Holmes and others gave Lockley $4,000 or $5,000 for the five firearms. These weapons were later used in a series of bank robberies in the Washington metropolitan area. Holmes has since pled guilty to charges related to those bank robberies.

On July 16, 2004, FBI and ATF agents investigating a bank robbery recovered a German model AKM 7.62x39mm rifle, Romanian model AIM rifle, a Saudi Arabian model AK-47 rifle and a Chinese model AK-47, all of which functioned in the semi-automatic and fully automatic modes. Further investigation connected cartridge casings recovered from Frohlich Lane in Hyattsville to these firearms, which were not legally registered to any person. The witnesses identified photographs of the firearms as the ones they saw in Lockley’s possession in Iraq in 2003, and Holmes identified them as being the firearms he had bought from Lockley.

Chase pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the receipt, possession, and transfer of machine guns and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 4, 2009 at 9:30 a.m.

Source: United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein

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