Ocala man pleads guilty to illegal possession of machine guns

Ocala man pleads guilty to illegal possession of machine guns

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Ocala, Florida - Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III, announces that Charles Robert Lester, 49, pleaded guilty late yesterday to unlawful possession of six machine guns. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Lester was indicted on July 31, 2013. According to the plea agreement, on June 24, 2013, deputies from the Marion County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant at Lester's Ocala residence, after learning that he might be in possession of illegal firearms.

During the search, deputies recovered five rifles from Lester's private office that had been illegally modified to fire as fully automatic machine guns. Deputies also discovered two firearm silencers, drug paraphernalia, numerous other firearms, assorted ammunition, and a video showing Lester firing the illegal machine guns. 

When interviewed, Lester falsely told deputies that he had a federal permit to build the machine guns. Incident to his arrest, a search of Lester himself revealed that he had another fully-automatic handgun and a stolen pistol on his person.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), and the Marion County Sheriff's Office.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.

It is another case prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justice's "Project Safe Neighborhoods" program - a nationwide, gun-violence reduction strategy.  Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III, along with Julie Leon, Special Agent in Charge, ATF, is coordinating the Project Safe Neighborhoods effort here in the Middle District of Florida in cooperation with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.

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