Remember when Blackwater was charged with 15 counts of illegal weapons possession and trafficking, falsifying documents, lying to the government and bribing foreign officials? The Department of Justice just let them off with less than a slap on the wrist after two executives pleaded guilty to much lesser charges.
A federal weapons case against the defense contractor formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide ended Thursday with misdemeanor pleas by two former executives, who were fined and placed on probation.
The case stems in part from a raid conducted by federal agents at the company’s Moyock headquarters in 2008 that seized 22 weapons, including 17 AK-47s. An indictment alleged that the company used the Camden County Sheriff’s Office to pose as the purchaser of dozens of automatic weapons.
The indictment also alleged that Blackwater purchased 227 short barrels and installed them on long rifles without registering them and that company officials presented the king of Jordan with five guns as gifts in hopes of landing a lucrative overseas contract and then falsified federal documents once they realized they were unable to account for the weapons.
Gary Jackson and William Matthews, the former president and executive vice president of the company and both Navy Seals, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count each of failure to keep records on firearms. They were sentenced to four months of house arrest, three years on probation and fined $5,000.
And you’re gonna love this:
“We would do anything to defend our country. I regret that mistakes were made, but they were made with the best intentions,” Matthews said.
“I still believe we have the best justice system in the world,” Jackson added.
Yes, I’m sure you do. A justice system that has one set of rules for the poor and another for the wealthy, powerful and well-connected. Marcy Wheeler explains just how extraordinary this plea bargain is under federal procedures.