News and Press Releases

SPOKANE MAN SENTENCED FOR ILLEGAL WEAPONS POSSESSION
Kept Grenades, Machine Guns, Explosives and Rocket Launchers in Bellevue Storage Locker

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 14, 2009

RONALD L. STRUVE, 67, of Spokane, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to four years in prison and three years of supervised release for five felony counts related to illegal weapons possession. STRUVE pleaded guilty March 12, 2009 to possession of plastic explosives that lacked a detection agent, and four counts of possession of an unregistered firearm. At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman ordered STRUVE to undergo mental health treatment noting that STRUVE’s arsenal posed “a huge danger to the community.... The possibilities are frightening what could have happened with a fire or earthquake or break-in.”

According to the plea agreement and records filed in the case, STRUVE had rented a unit in a Bellevue storage facility under a false name. In November of 2008, the contents of the unit were sold at auction because the rent had not been paid. After the buyer picked up the boxes from the storage unit and carted them home, he discovered weapons in one box and called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) to review the materials. In the cache of weapons, ATF found thirty-seven machine guns, eight silencers, fifty-four high explosive grenades, and two grenade launchers. One of the grenades had previously been “dud fired,” which made it extremely dangerous to transport and handle. ATF agents also found C-4 plastic explosives that lacked any detection agent. After STRUVE was tracked to Spokane and arrested, agents located another storage locker in Spokane that contained eight more machine guns and another unregistered firearm. Many of the weapons had been stolen from the military.

In asking for a five year sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Woods noted the extreme danger of the weapons cache. If there had been a fire or an earthquake at the storage facility, the consequences could have been catastrophic. Moreover, the buyer and others could have been killed or seriously injured while moving the boxes of explosives from the storage facility to the buyer’s residence. The storage locker also could have been burglarized and the weapons sold on the street.

Judge Pechman questioned STRUVE about his reasons for the arsenal asking, “We did come under attack on 9-11. Did you think about opening up the doors and handing (the weapons) out?” STRUVE told her “No.” The U.S. Probation officer recommended the four year sentence, stating that given STRUVE’s age, there was little risk that he would re-offend. Judge Pechman accepted that recommendation.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Woods and Michael Dion.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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