WASHINGTON, October 10, 2014–Former firearms instructor and decorated Air Force veteran Timothy Arnold stood for sentencing before Chief Judge Lisa Godbey Wood on October 9, 2014 at the United States District Court of Southern Georgia. Arnold received a sentence of 22 months behind bars and a fine of $168,000 for what many people close to the case believe is the result of a highly unethical investigation without merit.
Advised to not speak in his own defense at the trial, Arnold gave this statement at his Thursday morning sentencing, “I think it is very obvious how much I love this country. During my 20 years in the military, I was given missions and tasks that I did not agree with, but I did them. I do not agree with this guilty verdict, but I believe in this country. I will continue to do the same thing I have always done, and that is live with integrity. Preserving my reputation and my honor means more to me than it probably does to the average person. Now that I have lost my cherished Second Amendment rights, I have also lost the way I make my living. I must focus on protecting and providing for my wife and our little daughter…” Arnold choked up, unable to finish his statement.
As previously reported on BenSwann.com, Arnold’s charges included conversion (embezzlement,) manufacturing firearms, and illegally dealing firearms. According to multiple affidavits by other agents and witnesses, lead investigator Special Agent Wendell Palmer assembled no true elements of crime but broke multiple Air Force Policy Directives. Most damaging to Arnold’s case were the gross misrepresentations the witnesses say Palmer applied to their unsigned statements used during the trial. Palmer also confiscated personal firearms, records, and other property without providing a receipt. When his superior, Colonel Kristine Blackwell, was asked to intervene, she reportedly turned her back and laughed.
Alarmed by this “less than professional” investigation, many fellow agents and members of law enforcement interviewed by Palmer registered official complaints with the Air Force Inspector General (IG) before Arnold’s case went to trial. This information was not disclosed to the judge or the jury. It is unclear whether or not the IG has responded to the complaints of its OSI agents by opening an investigation of its own. One complaint stated, “I am extremely concerned for what I believe to be a misstatement of facts, improper evidence accounting procedures, and unsubstantiated allegations.”
Palmer declared to multiple witnesses during interviews that he believed Arnold was manufacturing fully automatic and silenced weapons and abusing the government credit card to do so. “I did not feel this information was correct, and felt it was inappropriate for Palmer to make such a statement during an ongoing investigation,” said a fellow agent. Another complainant said, “Upon reading Palmer’s documentation of my interview, I wish I had insisted on doing so (providing a written statement) as he took significant liberty with information I provided and did not account for important details I made sure to convey.” In simple terms, it appears Arnold was framed—but for a crime that didn’t exist.
A Congressional inquiry into this matter was originally requested through Rep. Jack Kingston’s (R-GA) office in 2011, but it was Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) who actually opened one this year.
Arnold has 30 days to report to the Bureau of Prisons and begin his sentence. Congress has 30 days to get something done about it.