Maryland soldier charged in rifle-smuggling case

March 15, 2007|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,Sun reporter

A 26-year-old soldier from Bowie appeared in federal court in Baltimore yesterday on charges that he smuggled assault rifles out of Iraq that were later used by others in six Washington-area bank robberies.

In October 2003, witnesses saw Leonard Stephan Lockley placing the component parts of AK-47-style rifles into a large black metal chest with a false bottom, according to court documents filed by federal prosecutors in Baltimore. At the time, Lockley was deployed near Baghdad.

Lockley's standing in the military was unclear yesterday. A spokesman for the Army said he had been a specialist with an Army Reserve military police unit based at Fort Meade, according to military records.

Lockley told the witnesses that he planned to ship the AK-47s and a machine gun to the United States, prosecutors said in court filings.

Lockley returned home in February 2004, authorities said.

In March 2004, Omar Holmes and others paid Lockley $4,000 to $5,000 to buy four firearms, according to prosecutors.

The weapons were used in bank robberies in the Washington area.

Holmes has since pleaded guilty to charges related to those bank robberies in Washington and the Maryland suburbs in 2004. Lockley has not been charged in those offenses.

On July 16, 2004, agents of the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigating one of the bank robberies linked firearms recovered to ones seen in Lockley's possession in Iraq in 2003.

Lockley could get up to 10 years in prison on the charge of illegally transferring an unregistered firearm and up to 15 years in prison on related charges, prosecutors said. He was released yesterday pending his trial.

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