Weapons thief gets 17 months in prison

Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2002

FARIBANKS (AP) -- One of two Fairbanks men charged with stealing several guns from a police officer's personal car and trying to sell them on the street more than a year ago has been sentenced to 17 months in prison.

Michael Sackinger, 19, was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Fairbanks and also ordered to pay $5,722 in restitution to the officer and assigned 30 months of supervised release once the 17-month sentence is served, said federal prosecutor Steve Cooper.

Sackinger was sentenced on a charge of theft of firearms. He pleaded guilty to that charge under a plea agreement reached in September.

Sackinger and Benjamin Isaac Skinner, 22, were indicted in May on charges they broke into the officer's vehicle in summer 2001 while it was parked at his residence and stole two rifles, three handguns and a silencer.

Sackinger was charged with serving as a lookout while Skinner broke into the car. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent Donald Gillespie has said the men planned to sell the guns on the street.

The two men also went to a car belonging to a man both of them knew and Sackinger shot out a window using a the stolen handgun and silencer, according to court documents. Sackinger and Skinner were each indicted on one count of theft of firearms and possession of an unregistered silencer.

Skinner was indicted on an additional count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Skinner also has reached a plea agreement and faces a sentence of between 7 and 9 years in prison, according to an estimate Cooper made in court documents outlining the agreement.

Skinner is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 27.

A third Fairbanks man, Brian Bowder, 24, has also been indicted in connection with the case. He is charged with two counts of possessing stolen firearms and two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Bowder pleaded not guilty to the charges during his arraignment and is awaiting trial.

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