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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of West Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Jefferson County man admits to unlawful possession of a firearm silencer; Government will seek increased sentence for manufacture and transfer of machine gun conversion devices

MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Timothy John Watson, of Ranson, West Virginia, has admitted to unlawfully possessing a firearm silencer, Acting United States Attorney Randolph J. Bernard announced.

Watson, 30, pleaded guilty today to one count of “Possession of Unregistered Firearm Silencer.” Watson admitted to having an unregistered silencer in November 2020 in Jefferson County.

According to the plea agreement, the government will present evidence at the sentencing hearing that Watson’s conduct also involved his manufacture and transfer of hundreds of machinegun conversion devices for AR-15 style rifles, also known as “drop in auto sears,” to hundreds of individuals including individuals whom he had reason to believe were adherents to an extremist political movement referred to as “Boogaloo,” a term referencing an impending civil war or violent uprising against the government for perceived incursions on U.S. Constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment.  Based on this additional conduct, the government states in the plea agreement that it will ask for an increased sentence of 57 to 71 months of imprisonment.

As a part of the plea agreement, Watson will forfeit all 3D-printed items that the government will argue are machinegun conversion devices, the 3D printers, 3D printer parts, and 3D printer supplies, as well as a U.S. Postal Service package containing the same conversion devices. All items were seized during a search in November 2020. 

Watson faces up to 10 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jarod J. Douglas and Lara Omps-Botteicher are prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service continues its investigation.

This case falls within the purview of the Attorney General’s Task Force to Combat Violent Anti-Government Extremism. Launched in June 2020, the Task Force is dedicated to supporting the investigation and prosecution of any person or group who commits violence in the name of an anti-government ideology.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert W. Trumble presided.

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
National Security
Updated March 16, 2021