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Sailor bought firearms with his military discount, then recorded illegal sales, say prosecutors

Wall of rifles at a gun store. (Michael Saechang/Flickr)

A former sailor who was busted buying firearms with his military discount and then reselling some of them to criminals is proving to be a wealth of information for federal investigators.

Julio Pino used his iPhone to record most, if not all, of his sales, court documents said. He even went so far as to review the buyers’ driver’s license on camera.

It is unclear how many of Pino’s customer’s now face criminal charges of their own. Federal indictments generally don’t provide that level of detail and Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson declined to comment.

Court documents filed in the case of Ernest Riley, however, reveal how valuable the videos are to prosecutors. Jackson recounted how Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents interviewed Pino, identified only by the initials J.P., on Sept. 8, 2016, about some recent firearms purchases he’d made. Pino responded that he had bought and sold more than 30 firearms in the past year, and that he had recorded all of the sales and uploaded the videos to the cloud.

The agents then reviewed the videos.

One showed Pino sell a Glock 23 handgun to Riley, who had a previous assault conviction on his record that prevented him from legally buying firearms. The video started with Pino showing Riley’s Virginia ID card to the camera before opening a box and displaying a new handgun and serial number.

Pino “hands the firearm to the defendant and asks if the defendant agrees to the gun transaction,” Jackson wrote in court documents. “The defendant responds, ‘Yes, sir.'”

Pino told investigators he sold the handgun to Riley for $550 in the parking lot of the Bass Pro Shops in Hampton, shortly after buying it at the U.S. Coast Guard Exchange in Chesapeake.

Pino, a petty officer 3rd class who was honorably discharged from the Navy in December, was sentenced earlier this year to 2½ years in prison.

According to court documents, Pino’s scheme stretched from Nov. 6, 2015, through January 21, 2017. Despite warnings from federal agents, he illegally engaged in the business of dealing firearms without being a licensed dealer.

Court documents said he resold 23 firearms for profit. Among his customers: a juvenile, a drug-addicted armed robber and a drug dealer who trafficked in stolen firearms, prosecutors said.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Keith Kimball said his client made the videos because he didn’t think at the time he was breaking the law.

“He thought that somehow by recording the sales he was being responsible,” Kimball said. “He was trying to be on the up and up.”


© 2019 The Virginian-Pilot