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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ocala Man Arrested For Manufacturing Machine Guns And Firearm Silencers

Ocala, Florida - Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the arrest today of Charles Robert Lester (48, Ocala) on charges of possession of firearms and ammunition by an unlawful user of a controlled substance; unlawful possession and transfer of machine guns; and unlawful possession and transfer of unlicensed machine guns and firearm silencers. Each of these offenses carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

According to court documents, on June 24, 2013, Lester’s family contacted local authorities because of threats he had made to kill them. When detectives with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office responded to Lester’s Ocala residence, they found Lester with a concealed .22 caliber handgun in his pocket and a .40 caliber handgun in a holster on his hip. The holstered gun had been illegally modified to fire as a fully-automatic weapon. After obtaining a search warrant for the residence, agents subsequently recovered five additional firearms that had been illegally converted into machine guns; two firearm silencers; numerous rounds of ammunition; and assorted drug paraphernalia. None of the fully automatic weapons or firearm silencers had ever been registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, (ATF) as required by federal law. Lester’s family members told authorities that Lester had been building and selling the illegal firearms over the Internet.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and ATF. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.

It is another case prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justice’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” program - a nationwide, gun-violence reduction strategy. Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III, along with Julie Torres, Special Agent in Charge, ATF, is coordinating the Project Safe Neighborhoods effort here in the Middle District of Florida in cooperation with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.

Updated January 26, 2015