Sergeants Convicted of Selling Government Weapons
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Two Army Green Beret sergeants were convicted Friday of selling government ammunition and explosives to undercover agents for $27,000 cash and two pounds of what they thought was cocaine.
Master Sgt. Keith Anderson and Sgt. 1st Class Byron Carlisle were convicted at the end of a five-day federal court trial in the sale of 4,700 pounds of mines, grenades, dynamite and ammunition in October near Vero Beach.
Anderson, 32, faces up to 95 years in prison for his 11-count conviction while Carlisle, 44, could receive 85 years for 10 counts on which he was found guilty.
The two were accused of selling the munitions to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents, receiving in exchange $27,000 cash and a kilogram - about 2.2 pounds - of what they were told was cocaine. It actually was milk sugar.
The defense had argued that the government entrapped the defendants, saying undercover informant Richard Flaherty led Carlisle and Anderson to believe the arms would go to CIA-backed Nicaraguan rebels.
Flaherty was not called as a witness because he would have denied that allegation, said defense attorney Stephen Broudy.
When Anderson testified Thursday, he said his conversations with Flaherty ″concerned demolitions he wanted for covert operations, especially in El Salvador and Honduras. He said he was employed by friendly governments and his most important connection was with the CIA.
″He told me he had to get arms and that because of the high political sensitivity they couldn’t be traced back to the U.S.,″ Anderson testified.
The prosecution said money, not a desire to help friendly governments, was the motivating factor.
″Keith Anderson and Byron Carlisle were not happy being broke, living from paycheck to paycheck,″ Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Mancini told the jury in his closing argument. ″They were going to hit the big time. This was their way of making a buck, their way of making a killing.″
U.S. District Judge Anthony Alaimo did not set a sentencing date. In addition to the prison terms, each man could be fined up to $100,000.
″We’re going to appeal this forever,″ Broudy said.
He said the defense was handicapped when the judge refused to allow prospective defense witnesses to take the stand. Alaimo feared national security might be violated by the testimony of undercover agents.
A spokesman at Fort Bragg, where the sergeants are based, said they are on leave with pay and allowances. No military charges had been filed pending outcome of the civilian trial and further investigation.