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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Man charged with possessing machine gun

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writer

A 48-year-old man was arrested Monday at his residence and charged with possessing a fully automatic rifle in a joint sting operation conducted by the Honolulu Police Department's Career Criminal Unit and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms.

A federal criminal complaint charges Randy Imoto of 3024 Seaview Rise in Woodlawn with possessing a converted fully automatic SGW Model XM-15 A1 .223-caliber machine gun. He is being held by the U.S. Marshals Service until a hearing tomorrow before Magistrate Leslie Kobayashi.

The joint operation is part of the on-going "Safe Neighborhoods" project to reduce gun violence in the United States. The program was started in February by the attorney general. "There's aggressive prosecution of anyone possessing illegal firearms," said Jordan Lowe, acting head of the ATF's Hawai'i office. He estimates that ATF and local police have worked 70 cases statewide in the past seven months.

The investigation began on Sept. 4 when police received information claiming that Imoto was interested in trading stolen guns for a fully automatic firearm, Lowe said in a affidavit. Undercover officer Victor Tolentino and an unidentified confidential police source met with Imoto at his residence and confirmed he was willing to trade stolen firearms and cash for a "machine gun," the affidavit said.

During the meeting, Imoto allegedly displayed a loaded .22-caliber pistol, a Glock Model 22 9-mm pistol and another stolen firearm, Lowe said. According to the affidavit, when Imoto was asked about an attachment to the barrel of the Glock, he said he was trying to attach a silencer to the gun.

Tolentino met with Imoto outside his residence on Monday and showed him an ATF-owned converted machine gun. Imoto inspected the weapon and allegedly agreed to trade the Glock and a .357 firearm for it. Imoto was arrested when he took the machine gun and attempted to walk away, the affidavit said.

The court document also alleges that Imoto is a user of crystal methamphetamine.

The ATF and police searched Imoto's residence and seized a Glock 9-mm pistol, various rounds of .12-gauge, .22-caliber and 9-mm caliber ammunition, drug paraphernalia and four magazines containing suspected child pornography, the affidavit said.

In an unrelated incident, police arrested three men and a woman, who showed up at Imoto's residence on Monday in a stolen car. The men, ages 36, 33 and 32, and a 21-year-old woman were arrested on suspicion of auto theft, third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and possessing of drug paraphernalia.