Coast Guard Lieutenant Pleads Guilty to Gun and Drug Crimes - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Coast Guard Lieutenant Pleads Guilty to Gun and Drug Crimes

Investigators found 15 guns and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition at Christopher Hasson's basement apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland

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    Coast Guard Officer Pleads Guilty to Gun, Drug Charges

    A Coast Guard officer from Maryland accused of stockpiling weapons in his home pleaded guilty to federal gun and drug charges. Chris Gordon reports prosecutors say he compiled a list of prominent politicians and cable news hosts he wanted to kill.

    (Published Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019)

    A Coast Guard lieutenant accused of stockpiling weapons and drafting a hit list of prominent Democrats and TV journalists pleaded guilty Thursday to gun and drug charges.

    Christopher Hasson, 50, pleaded guilty to four charges related to firearm and drug possession. He faces up to 31 years in prison.

    Federal prosecutors called Hasson a self-described white nationalist and domestic terrorist intent on carrying out a mass killing, but they have announced no plans to file any terrorism-related charges against him since his February arrest.

    Hasson's wife said in a brief statement Thursday, "He's a loving man and an honorable man, and I just hope he comes home soon." 

    Two of the four counts in Hasson’s indictment charged him with illegally possessing unregistered and unserialized silencers. He also was charged with possession of a firearm by an unlawful user or addict of a controlled substance, and illegal possession of tramadol, an opioid painkiller.

    Prosecutors claimed Hasson drew up what appeared to be a computer spreadsheet hit list that included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. Several network TV journalists — MSNBC's Chris Hayes and Joe Scarborough and CNN's Chris Cuomo and Van Jones — also were mentioned.

    Hasson also targeted two Supreme Court justices and two social media company executives and searched online for their home addresses in March 2018, within minutes of searching firearm sales websites, according to prosecutors.

    Investigators found 15 guns, including seven rifles, and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition at Hasson's basement apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland. He researched how to make homemade bombs and mortars, studied sniper training and used his government computer to search for information about Nazis and Adolf Hitler, prosecutors said.

    At Thursday's court hearing, prosecutors didn't mention domestic terrorism or accusations that Hasson was planning a mass killing.

    Last month, a federal judge refused to dismiss the gun charges against Hasson. U.S. District Judge George Hazel rejected defense attorneys' argument that charging Hasson with unlawful possession of firearm silencers violates his Second Amendment right to bear arms.

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    During a hearing earlier this year, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom said the government had no doubt that Hasson's arrest prevented bloodshed. Prosecutors have said Hasson appeared to be planning attacks inspired by the manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian right-wing extremist who killed 77 people in a 2011 bomb-and-shooting rampage.

    Hasson has espoused extremist views for years and "intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country," Windom wrote. Hasson also drafted an email in which he said he was "dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on earth," Windom said.

    Assistant federal public defender Liz Oyer has said prosecutors haven't filed terrorism-related charges against Hasson because they haven't found any evidence to back up those allegations. She accused prosecutors of seeking to punish Hasson for "private thoughts" that he never shared.

    Hasson, a former Marine, worked at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington on a program to acquire advanced new cutters for the agency. He remains on active duty pending the outcome of the criminal case.