2 guards are guilty of gun-link possession
Two veteran Halawa Correctional Facility prison guards pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to possessing a device that can convert certain rifles into machine guns.
Ronald Philip Lee, Jr., 46, and Patrick H. Sonsona, 44, face maximum 10-year prison terms when they are sentenced in November. The attorneys for both men said they expect their clients will be fired as a result of their guilty pleas.
State Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Louise Kim McCoy said the appropriate action will be taken.
Lee was a sergeant and a 20-year Public Safety veteran when FBI agents arrested him last year. Sonsona was an adult corrections officer 3 with 15 years in the department when he was arrested.
Both men have been on unpaid leave since their arrest and remain free on bond pending sentencing.
Lee told U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang, "I was asked of a favor if I knew someone who could manufacture a part and had it mailed to me."
Sonsona told Chang, "I placed an order to get the part through a friend through the Internet through another friend. I got a call a month later, showed up at the place and was arrested."
The part is an auto connector, also called a lightening link, which can convert certain semiautomatic rifles into fully automatic machine guns.
In exchange for their guilty pleas, the government promised to drop conspiracy charges against the two at sentencing.
Lee was arrested when he accepted a package with the part from a postal investigator in April 2007. He agreed to deliver it to Sonsona, who was arrested when he received the package.