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California National Guardsmen Get Prison For Assault Rifle Theft

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Two former members of the California National Guard have been sentenced to federal prison for selling two assault rifles they stole from an armory, federal prosecutors said Friday.

Stephen Gooden, 40, of Stockton, was sentenced Thursday to a year in prison and fined $1,000 for possessing a machine gun.

A fellow former guardsman, Luis Castro, 28, of Sacramento, was sentenced last month to 20 months in prison.

Prosecutors said they stole two Colt M4 carbines from the National Guard armory in Lodi, 35 miles south of Sacramento. The rifles can fire three-bullet bursts each time the trigger is pulled, which qualifies them as machine guns under federal law.

Court records show agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives bought the two weapons in October 2009 from two members of the Norteno street gang during an undercover operation.

According to Gooden’s plea agreement, an informant told law enforcement officials in March 2009 that Castro, who was then the supply sergeant in Lodi, had offered to sell him any weapon he wanted. When Castro was transferred, Gooden took over as supply sergeant.

The plea agreement says Gooden admitted that he and Castro stole the rifles and sold them.

California Military Department Capt. Will Martin said Gooden was honorably discharged from the guard in May 2012, although he had been indicted on the federal charge in October 2010 and pleaded guilty in May 2011. Martin could not immediately say why Gooden was honorably discharged after pleading guilty to a federal crime.

Castro was honorably discharged in February 2011 and indicted in July 2011. He pleaded guilty in November 2013.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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