FilAm Brothers Charged In Gunrunning Sentenced To 3 Years

SORSOGON CITY, Philippines (JGL) – Filipino American Rex Gene Maralit had been a New York City police officer for 11 years while his brother Wilfredo Maralit had been an officer for the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for nine years.

Their lengths of service as law enforcement officers, according to Judge Allyne Ross
of the U.S. District of the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, are the “substantially aggravating factors” that prompted her to impose a medium range of three years (36 months) of imprisonment for their “four and a-half year scheme to illegally export munitions of the utmost seriousness” after pleading guilty on Count Two of the Superseding Indictments of violation of the Arms Export Control Act that ended on Sept. 5, 2013.

The rest of the remaining counts of indictments were dismissed. Their maximum sentence would have been from 57 to 71 months.

Judge Ross said, “The weapons defendants exported to the Philippines are among 
the most powerful small arms in existence, powerful military-type assault weapons, including rifles for long-range sniper operations and cartridges that can penetrate armor and exterior walls and has the capacity to disable vehicles and aircraft.

“That the (U.S.) government is ignorant of the ultimate end-users of these weapons affords little or nothing to mitigate the seriousness of the offense. It was defendants’ crime of illegally circumventing the laws designed to protect the US’ interests by overseeing proliferation of such dangerous weapons that enabled the weapons defendants exported to be wholly unregulated, thus the munitions could well have ended up with terrorists or insurgents or foreign criminal organizations or others in conflict with the US foreign policy. We simply do not know.”

“Also with respect to Wilfredo Maralit,” Ross said, “his specific duties include enforcing the regulations impeached in this case. I am in complete agreement with the government’s assertions that the sentence imposed in this case must give the public confidence that the rule of law applies with equal force to law enforcement officials and non-law enforcement officials alike.”

CBP, FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE

Wilfredo Maralit, 49, was a US CBP officer assigned at the Los Angeles International Airport in California. A CBP is “first line of defense to prevent international terrorists and criminal organizations from obtaining weapons of mass destruction materials and technologies, arms, funds, and other support from US and foreign sources.”

“So given all of the circumstances that have been, I believe, accurately expressed by defense counsel, the government and that I have tried to express thus far as to both defendants, I find that an incarceratory sentence of 36 months is sufficient but not unduly severe to accomplish the goals of sentencing.”

In sentencing the Maralit brothers on March 27, Judge Ross also cited the mitigating circumstances in the sentencing when Ross “received letters of support speaking well of their character. Also evident that both brothers have fully accepted responsibility for their conduct and are genuinely remorseful for what they have done. There are also matters raised by defense counsels (Louis Freeman and Michelle Gelernt) which I have considered with respect to the fact that there are a number of respects in which they already have and will continue to be punished for what they have done.”

Ross also cited the brothers’ full cooperation to secure but failed effort to let 
their brother, who is in the Philippines, Ariel Maralit, 44, and co-conspirator to surrender.

“And although defendants were not successful in these efforts, the government, (represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Seth DuCharme and Samuel Nitze), as counsels, has noted, has gracefully acknowledged that their failure to achieve that end is not attributable to any lack of effort on their part. Indeed, the government does take the position that this matter in particular may warrant a downward variance in sentence.”

According to court records obtained online by the Journal GlobaLinks, the sentence could further be reduced to “offense level at 22” if Rex and Wilfredo were be able to convince Ariel to come to the US to plead guilty to the offense.

Aside from the three-year sentence, the brothers will be placed under a three-year supervised release and assessed to pay $100. Violation of Arms Export Control Act was punishable with a maximum prison term of up to 20 years and fines of up to $1 million.

The brothers have 14 days to file their appeal.

The Maralit brothers, who are both out of bond, were ordered to surrender before 2 p.m. on May 18 next month when they start serving time in prison.

So that their families will be able to visit them, Judge Ross ordered their confinement together at the Federal Correctional Institution, Schuylkill, a medium-security U.S. federal prison for male inmates in Pennsylvania.

As to the history and characteristics of the defendants, Judge Ross said, both defendants are family men who, apart from the instant crime, have no history of criminality and, in fact, (have) a history of public service.

The defendants were ordered to report to the probation office in their districts within 72 hours of release from federal prisons. “They shall not possess a firearm, ammunition, destructive device or any other dangerous weapon.”

Ross also imposed a search condition that each defendant shall submit his person, property, house, residence, vehicle, papers, computers as defined under the law and other electronic communications or data storage devices or media or office to search conducted by the U.S. probation officer. Failure to submit to search will be grounds for revocation of the release.

Some of the gun shipments labeled as “television” and placed in Balikbayan (Philippine homecoming) boxes were coursed through Five Star RP Sea Cargo Inc. based in New Jersey.

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