Editors Choice

A Texas Judge’s Hobby was Issuing Machine Guns to the Mexican Cartel

Tim Wright, a former Williamson County court-at-law judge charged with peddling firearms smuggled into Mexico, was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison after he pleaded guilty in May to two felony counts stemming from his side business selling guns.

LIT COMMENTARY

In times when guns and the border wall are key issues in Texas, at LIT we take a look at the historic case of former Texas State Judge Tim Wright, who was gun-trafficking to the Mexican cartel. He was slapped and sentenced to 18 months in jail.

On the contrary, a 28 year old man in 2018 was sentenced for 70 months, that’s just shy of 4x greater length of sentence than the judge. And a co-defendant, a former cop, well, he’s got a bad foot and his jail time is suspended for now.

This disparity and protection of corrupt officials and judges has to end in Texas. The only way to do so is for the people and citizens of Texas to stand up and be heard, or to take more attention to the lawyers they are electing into state court positions.

Former Judge Tim Wright gets 18 months in prison for firearms

Original Publish date; Sept. 23rd, 2016 | LIT Publish date; Jan. 9th, 2020

Tim Wright, a former Williamson County court-at-law judge charged with peddling firearms smuggled into Mexico, was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison after he pleaded guilty in May to two felony counts stemming from his side business selling guns.

In weighing his punishment, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks considered Wright’s lack of criminal history, his health and years of public service. Sparks said there was no doubt Wright had done a lot of good in the community and changed the lives of many people from the bench.

But the guns he sold were found in the hands of traffickers at a time when Mexican criminal organizations have more firepower than Mexico’s military and authorities are trying to stymie the flow of weapons south. For such reasons, the federal judge said, solely probation — as requested by the defense — was not enough.

“You have respected the law all of your life, but this is a tarnish on it,” Sparks told Wright. “If you walk away from here with a slap on the wrist, that’s not deterrence.”

Outside the courthouse, Wright, 70, and his lawyer, Joe Turner, commended Sparks for what they called a fair sentence. Wright, who was initially charged with nine felony counts in the case, will have six weeks to turn himself in. He must pay a $15,000 fine and serve a probation term of three years upon his release.

The former judge has admitted he dealt firearms without a license and made false statements to law enforcement agents, illegally selling more than 60 weapons from June 1, 2014, to Dec. 15, 2014. Among his buyers was an undercover informant he had known was a convicted felon.

He resigned as judge after he pleaded guilty nearly two months ago.

In court Friday, Sparks accepted Wright’s plea agreement, which included a maximum sentence of five years in prison, but not without first expressing concerns over the flow of guns into Mexico and what he called the plea agreement’s “very beneficial” conditions for the former judge.

Defense lawyers pointed to Wright’s deteriorating mental and physical ailments, including a traumatic brain injury he had endured in a hunting accident, two botched surgeries and onset dementia. Prosecutors said they came to the lighter punishment terms taking into account Wright’s age, medical issues and the plea agreements of other defendants in related cases out of San Antonio.

But prosecutors asked Sparks to hand Wright the full five years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Galdo displayed photos of the weapons he sold, including AK-47 pistols, as he said Wright was no ordinary guns dealer and had been a tributary in a “river of iron” running south.

Wright first caught the attention of investigators last summer, when agents learned he had been selling dozens of weapons he claimed he was buying for personal use.

In one instance, he induced a licensed peace officer to act as a straw buyer, Galdo said. In another, one of the weapons he sold was seized from Gulf drug cartel members.

Galdo read from recorded interviews that he said showed Wright had been well aware where the firearms were going and had multiple chances to come clean and yet denied the allegations even after his arrest.

But inside and outside the courtroom, friends, relatives and supporters described him as a religious man and beloved judge known for his fairness and impartiality.

Three visiting judges have since taken over Wright’s daily docket, his veterans court and his DWI and drug court.

Williamson County commissioners haven’t taken any action on whether to appoint someone to fill this position, but County Judge Dan Gattis Sr. has said he wants commissioners to hold off until after the March 2016 Republican primary. With no Democrats holding countywide office, the March GOP winner would likely be elected in November 2016, Gattis has said.

Wright, who limped into the courtroom in a black suit and at times had trouble hearing, said he was ashamed for the embarrassment he caused his friends, family and the people of Williamson County. He said he had been struggling with suicidal depression before he started his business.

“I think I was so enamored with the prospects of having a new passion that I just buried my head in the sand, judge,” he said. “I just acted so differently than the way I am.”

Austin Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Firearms Smuggling Scheme

Original Publish date; Nov. 16, 2018

In Austin today, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman sentenced 28–year–old Austin resident Tyler Carlson to 70 months imprisonment followed by two years of supervised release for his role in a firearms smuggling scheme involving machineguns and assault weapons, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Fred J. Milanowski, Houston Division; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden; and, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez, Houston Division.

On April 23, 2018, Carlson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate multiple U.S. laws, including illegal exportation of munitions and unlawful possession and transfer of machineguns.  Carlson also pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a machinegun.

According to court documents, Carlson conspired with others to violate multiple federal firearms laws, including possessing and transferring unregistered machineguns and unlawfully exporting firearms to Mexico. Carlson worked with others to acquire and unlawfully smuggle 200 firearms, including .50 caliber rifles, and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition to Mexico.

Court documents also reflect that Carlson worked with 69–year–old former law enforcement officer and federal firearms licensee Michael Fox of Georgetown, TX, to illegally acquire multiple M-134G Minigun machineguns.

The M-134G is a six-barrel rotary machine gun that can fire between 2,000 and 6,000 rounds of ammunition per minute.

Fox, a co-defendant, contacted 63–year–old Tracy Garwood, another co-defendant and owner of the M-134G manufacturer Garwood Industries in Arizona, who agreed to help with the construction and supply Fox with M-134G parts.

Records indicated that Garwood did not know the M-134Gs were to be smuggled illegally to Mexico.

However, Garwood submitted false paperwork to the ATF claiming he had destroyed multiple M-134G rotor housings—a key component of the M-134G that must be serialized and registered with the ATF.  Instead, Garwood unlawfully transferred possession of those rotor housings to Fox.

On February 8, 2017, authorities recovered three M134G rotor housings while executing a search warrant at Fox’s residence.  Two of the rotor housings were ones that Garwood told ATF were destroyed.  Court records indicate that multiple M-134Gs were successfully smuggled into Mexico by Carlson and coconspirators who were prosecuted in the Southern District of Texas.

Through efforts by U.S. and Mexican law enforcement, one of those M-134Gs was recovered by law enforcement in Mexico.

On September 7, 2018, Judge Pitman sentenced Garwood to two years probation and ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine after he pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge in May 2018.  Garwood agreed to divest himself from ownership of his company.  As a convicted felon, he can no longer possess firearms.

Fox, who faces up to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to the conspiracy charge in July 2018, is scheduled for sentencing on January 11, 2019, in Austin before Judge Pitman.

“Firearms trafficking is a priority for ATF because of the increased potential for those guns to be acquired by the criminal element,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski.

“This investigation is example of a transnational criminal organization conspiring with individuals in the United States to straw purchase weapons and munitions for the purpose of illegal export. HSI works around the clock with its foreign law enforcement partners to arrest and prosecute these criminals,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Folden.

“We remain steadfast in our resolve to seek justice to the end and defend the nation’s mail service from illegal use. This goal is achieved through collaborative investigative efforts with other law enforcement agencies,” stated USPIS Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez.

The ATF, HSI, and USPIS conducted this investigation.  The U.S. Marshal Service assisted with the deportation of Carlson from Mexico in October 2017.  The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern District of Texas and the District of Arizona provided assistance during this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael C. Galdo is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.

So What Happened to former Policeman Michael Fox for His Role in the Firearms Trafficking?

LIT Found an Article by Rolling Stone which was Published Aug. 7, 2019

LIT COMMENTARY

Well apart from the fact that nobody except Rolling Stone published much about his 2019 trial, the DOJ did not send out a press release that we can find at LIT and if you search for Michael Fox in Texas seeking to find out his sentence, the search engines are pretty blank. It’s amazing how a police officer turned bad can escape so easily from the cover of the internet.

For Michael Fox, the ending was anticlimactic.

“I was never really arrested,” he says. “They just asked me to show up one day and get fingerprinted. I knew I was in deep shit then.”

In July 2018, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, based on his structuring of money orders.

He was not convicted on any gun charges, but the facts of the minigun scheme weighed heavily against him in court.

He was hoping to get probation, but the judge told him he didn’t deserve leniency because he had been a police officer and should have known better.

Though he likes to gripe about Obama, Fox doesn’t blame his fate on liberals or gun control.

“I did it,” he says. “I told everybody I did it. It was illegal. I get it.” In January 2019, he was sentenced to three years at the minimum-security penitentiary in Beaumont, but has not yet started serving time on account of complications from a recent foot surgery.

A Texas Judge’s Hobby was Issuing Machine Guns to the Mexican Cartel
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