The jury returned the verdict in U.S. District Court after about 10 hours considering the fate of Petty Officer Nicholas Bickle, 34.
Prosecutors say federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents bought weapons during an undercover operation that led to raids in November at Bickle’s apartment and a storage unit he leased near San Diego, in Las Vegas where two other convicted co-defendants live, and at the Durango, Colo., home of a man who pleaded guilty in the case.
Authorities say 72 weapons were seized, including more than two dozen AK-47 and M92 machine guns, a sniper rifle, and handguns.
Bickle’s lawyer, James Pokorny, maintained the government never proved a link between Bickle and the weapons. He told the jury the government case relied on flimsy circumstantial evidence and the testimony of drug dealers and convicts who pleaded guilty and tailored accounts of Bickle’s involvement in hopes they’ll be spared prison time.
More than 100 arrested in massive identity-theft ring
NEW YORK — Bank tellers, restaurant workers and other service employees in New York lifted credit card data from residents and foreign tourists as part of an identity theft ring that stretched to China, Europe and the Middle East and victimized thousands, authorities said Friday.
In total, 111 people were charged and more than 85 are in custody; the others are still being sought. Five separate criminal enterprises operating out of Queens were dismantled.
Challenger leads early in vote for Cherokee chief
TAHLEQUAH — The challenger has a lead in the hotly contested race for chief of one of the nation’s biggest American Indian tribes.
A Sunday count of votes cast in person put longtime Cherokee Nation councilman Bill John Baker ahead of former Principal Chief Chad Smith by 6,223 votes (61 percent) to 4,046 votes (39 percent).
However, up to 12,000 absentee ballots still must be counted, the tribe’s election commission says. A winner may not be confirmed until Wednesday.
The election that began Sept. 24 and ended Saturday was scheduled after the result of a June 25 election was invalidated. Mr. Smith and Mr. Baker were each twice declared the winner and questions were raised about how the ballots were handled and stored.
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By Elaine Donnelly
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