An ex-sailor was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in federal prison this week after prosecutors say he trafficked at least 60 firearms while in uniform, including several guns purchased at military exchanges.
Although he lacked a federal firearms license, Julio Fernando Pino, 26, used his military discount to buy and resell guns from 2015 to 2017 while assigned to the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and Navy records.
Pino was indicted in May 2017 and arrested the following August while his Norfolk-based ship was in Jacksonville, Florida, according to a court filing submitted by his defense attorney, Keith Kimball.
Pino pleaded to one count of unlawful interstate transfer of a firearm on Oct. 22 and exited the Navy as an aviation ordnanceman third class in December, according to court and military records.
A sentencing memo penned by his attorney last month indicated that Pino received a general discharge under honorable conditions and that his wife remains a machinist’s mate in Navy.
“The defendant bought and re-sold firearms so many times that, unsurprisingly, he sold some firearms to prohibited people, including a juvenile, a drug-addicted armed robber, a drug dealer trafficking in stolen firearms, and many others,” prosecutors wrote in pre-sentencing documents.
A Glock 23 pistol trafficked by Pino was “traced back to a string of armed robberies,” prosecutors wrote, but police uncovered no evidence the sailor knew the firearm was connected to those felonies.
Another Glock that Pino moved was found in a home during a search by law enforcement after it had been brandished to threaten another person, authorities said.
Pino got around gun laws by lying on forms he filled out at military exchanges when purchasing firearms, prosecutors wrote, and also lied to law enforcement.
When agents at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives warned him to knock off the sales, "he continued to sell guns without a license, even after telling them that he would stop,” prosecutors wrote.
“The defendant committed very serious crimes, enabled some very bad people to obtain guns, and put the community at serious risk.”
In his filings, defense attorney Kimball wrote that Pino “tried to be careful” about his clients but now realizes he “exercised extremely poor judgement by unlawfully selling firearms.”
Kimball added that Pino made very little money on the illicit sales, usually between $50 to $100 on each transaction.
“Whatever the total ‘profit,’ Mr. Pino more than recognizes that it was far from worth it. He is now a convicted felon and lost his Navy career," Kimball wrote.
At one point in 2015, Pino traveled to Maryland to meet a 16-year-old who contacted him through an online firearms marketplace, authorities said.
Although Pino asked to see the teen’s identification, he was shown a credit card with another person’s name on it, the indictment states.
“The defendant accepted the credit card, took a picture of (the teen) holding up the card, and sold the brand new, unused firearm for $600,”prosecutors wrote.
In his legal filings, Pino’s attorney argued that his client been a good sailor who “received positive remarks from his supervisors and command representatives.”
“Mr. Pino had planned to make the Navy a career but the instant offense ended his plan,” Kimball continued. “This prosecution has naturally caused some problems in Mr. Pino’s marriage which led to a separation. They recently reconciled but the strain from this prosecution and Mr. Pino’s potential incarceration remains.”
Kimball told Navy Times he’s not sure where Pino will serve his sentence.
Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at email@example.com.