MARTINSBURG – A man from Ranson who was arrested by federal authorities earlier this month was charged with conspiring against the US government and selling machine gun conversion equipment online to supporters of a far-right movement.
30-year-old Timothy John Watson was charged Tuesday with conspiracy to commit crimes against the United States, US attorney Bill Powell said unregistered firearms silencers.
Federal agencies allege in the complaint that Watson created portablewallhanger.com to sell 3-D printed harmless hooks made up of two parts. However, when disassembled, one of the parts will act as an illegal drop-in auto-sear for the above conversion. It is said that he manufactured and traded the parts from January 8th to October 30th.
The company is said to have been run from his apartment on South Marshall Street without a license, the authorities said.
“The suspect in this case appears to have provided hundreds of people with these conversion devices, some to people who are intent on harming Americans,” Powell said in a statement.
“Federal law is very specific to this type of device, and keeping the public safe from extremists is one of our top priorities. Realizing this business front for what it actually was is down to the excellent law enforcement work I get to see every day, ”Powell added in the statement. “The indictment only reflects the indictment and we look forward to taking our onus of proof.”
This portable wall hangers business is suspected of marketing to supporters of Boogaloo, “a loosely organized far-right, anti-government and extremist political movement in the United States,” Powell’s office press release said.
Investigators said one customer was Steven Carillo, an alleged “self-described boogaloo fan” who allegedly shot and killed two security officers in the Ronald V. Dellums federal building and the United States courthouse in Oakland, California, in May. In June, he was reported to have shot dead members of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office and killed one.
“The FBI continues to focus on the threat posed by domestic violent extremists,” said Michael Christman, the FBI special agent in charge in Pittsburgh. “The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force works closely with our federal, state and local partners across the country to address these serious threats. We cannot and will not allow this type of activity to cause violence and harm to the American people. “
Other alleged evidence presented in the complaint links Watson to the website, including email, Instagram and PayPal accounts. The PayPal account was allegedly created with the Watson address associated with the account.
Court records show that the PayPal account reportedly made 600 transactions between January 8 and October 2. It is also alleged that a Stamps.com account registered with Watson showed 362 shipments.
Watson faces a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $ 250,000 for the conspiracy count, plus a sentence of up to ten years and a fine of up to $ 250,000 for each of the remaining charges. According to the federal condemnation guidelines, the penalty actually imposed depends on the seriousness of the offense and, if applicable, on the previous history of the accused.
Watson had pleaded not guilty, according to court records.
His lawyer, Shawn McDermott, denied in a lawsuit that Watson was part of the aforementioned movement and would “oppose any ideology based on violence”. He also said Watson ran his wall hangers business legally.
Deputy US attorneys Jarod J. Douglas and Lara Omps-Botteicher are pursuing the case on behalf of the government. The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the US Postal Inspection Service are continuing their investigation.
This case falls under the remit of the Attorney General’s Task Force on Countering Violent Anti-Government Extremism. The task force, which was established in June 2020, supports the identification and prosecution of people or groups who commit violence in the name of an anti-government ideology.
Watson remains incarcerated, according to prison records. A judge has yet to rule on a motion to release Watson under house arrest.
Powell recalls that an indictment is just an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.