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Ex-SEAL gets 17 years on weapons charges

July 18, 2012 at 8:38 AM   |   Comments

LAS VEGAS, July 18 (UPI) -- A former U.S. Navy SEAL convicted last fall on 13 weapons charges was sentenced to 17 1/2 years in a federal prison, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Nicholas Bickle, 34, was found guilty in October of smuggling weaponry back to the United States from Iraq and then giving the weapons to friends for sale on the street, U-T San Diego reported Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt sentenced Bickle in Las Vegas. Bickle originally was charged with 15 counts.

Bickle, once stationed at Naval Base Coronado in San Diego, has been in jail since December after receiving an other-than-honorable discharge from the Navy.

During the trial, prosecutors said Bickle smuggled up to 100 fully automatic machine guns and other guns in a footlocker outfitted with a false bottom after deployments to Iraq with SEAL Team 5, U-T San Diego said. Search warrants were served on Bickle's storage unit in San Diego and investigators found the footlocker, 3,000 rounds of military ammunition, parts of detonating equipment and two handguns.

Three of Bickle's co-conspirators pleaded guilty, agreeing to testify Bickle was the operation's leader.

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