National Guardsman Sentenced in Machine Gun Theft

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People in Stockton are surprised two Army National Guard soldiers supplied assault rifles to gang members, potentially adding to the violence on their streets.

40-year-old Stephen Golden was sentenced in federal court this week, after prosecutors say he and 28-year-old Luis Castro took two M4 assault rifles from the Lodi Armory, where both were supply sergeants and sold them on the black market.

“These weapons are very dangerous. They’re very highly powerful weapons. They’re automatic weapons,” Assistant United States Attorney Paul Hemesath said.

Those M4s are a compact version of the M16, and are able to fire in a three-shot burst, making them illegal to possess without special permits.

According to court documents, a confidential informant told authorities Castro and Gooden had sold the two guns to known gang members, who had the guns from March until October in 2009.

The weapons were only recovered after a lengthy joint undercover investigation by the Army and ATF.

“We credit the ATF, especially in the City of Stockton, to getting those automatic weapons off the streets,” Hemesath said.

Gooden will now serve a year in federal penitentiary, and pay a $1,000 fine, while Castro must serve 20 months.

That’s a slap on the wrist according to some in Stockton.

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