Guards nabbed for device to alter guns
Two Halawa guards allegedly had a converter to make semis automatic
The FBI arrested two veteran Halawa Correctional Facility prison guards over the weekend for allegedly arranging to obtain a device that can convert semiautomatic rifles into fully automatic machine guns.
Ronald Philip Lee Jr. was arrested Saturday when he accepted a mailed package containing the device, while Patrick H. Sonsona was arrested when he tried to get the device from Lee, the FBI said.
Both men remain in federal custody pending a hearing to set their bail.
Two veteran state adult correctional officers are in federal custody for allegedly obtaining a device that can convert certain semiautomatic rifles into machine guns.
The FBI arrested Ronald Philip Lee Jr. and Patrick H. Sonsona on Saturday when Lee accepted a package containing a so-called auto-connector from a U.S. postal inspector working under cover, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court yesterday.
Sonsona was arrested when he attempted to accept custody of the package based on a prior agreement with Lee, the affidavit said.
Lee had been making arrangements to obtain the device over the past three weeks, according to the affidavit.
Transferring or possessing a machine gun or gun part that can convert a weapon into a machine gun is a violation of federal law.
Both men, charged by criminal complaint, made their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Honolulu yesterday.
Lee is a sergeant and a 20-year veteran of the state Department of Public Safety, said spokeswoman Louise Kim McCoy. Sonsona is an adult corrections officer 3 and has been with the department for 15 years.
Both are assigned to Halawa Correctional Facility's medium-security compound, McCoy said.