Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Baxter pleads guilty to firearm violation

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Lonny Baxter, a former Rockville resident who played basketball for the University of Maryland, pleaded guilty last week to a firearm violation, according to the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland.

Baxter, 28, was charged by federal officials July 11 with delivering undeclared firearms to a common carrier for interstate transportation. United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein’s office reported that Baxter pleaded guilty to the charge on Thursday.

According to a document submitted to Baxter’s attorney, Richard A. Finci, and filed in United States District Court in Greenbelt on June 19, Baxter was a professional basketball player in Houston from September 2005 to February 2006. He was not a federally licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer or collector of firearms.

The document states that in February 2006, a female friend of Baxter, at his request, completed a firearm transaction form as the purchaser of a Beretta 9-mm pistol and a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. Baxter paid for the firearms.

The document also state that in July 2006, Baxter and a female friend went to the same gun store, where the woman completed a firearms transaction form as the purchaser of two Glock .40-caliber pistols, a Para-Ordnance .45-caliber pistol and a Bushmaster M4 .223-caliber rifle. Baxter paid for those firearms as well.

On July 4, 2006, Baxter and the friend gave two packages containing the guns to Federal Express employees at a store in Houston for shipment to another female friend in College Park.The document states that Baxter ‘‘knowingly and unlawfully did not provide written notice or otherwise advise Federal Express that the packages contained firearms.”

Several days later, Baxter picked up the Federal Express packages from his friend’s residence in College Park, court documents state.

Finci confirmed that this is not Baxter’s first experience with gun charges. Last August, Baxter was driving a sport utility vehicle when he fired a gun into the air near the White House, Finci said.

Baxter pleaded guilty to that Aug. 16, 2006, incident on Aug. 23, Finci said. A judge sentenced Baxter to 270 days in prison, with all but 60 suspended. He also was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine, perform 200 hours of community service and be on 18 months of probation.

As a result of his guilty plea last week, Baxter faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. He will also not be permitted to own, possess or use a firearm.

U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte scheduled sentencing for Aug. 31.

‘‘I know the judge will be fair and I hope that he will not see it as fair to give him any more jail time for this same gun involved in the Washington, D.C., incident,” Finci said Monday.

He said Baxter, who was released from jail in October, has been playing basketball for Montepaschi Siena in the Italian League.

Baxter resides in Columbia, Finci said, but had attended a portion of high school at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville.