A Las Vegas man who illegally sold machine guns for a Navy SEAL was sentenced Tuesday to four years in prison in the arms trafficking case.
Andrew Kaufman, 37, was one of three defendants in the federal case who accepted plea bargains and admitted selling weapons for Nicholas Bickle, a SEAL from San Diego.
Kaufman stood in court Tuesday and apologized to his family "for making this grave mistake." He then told Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt, "If I'm blessed with any mercy today, it won't be squandered."
Federal sentencing guidelines called for Kaufman to receive a prison term in the range of 78 to 97 months.
But prosecutors asked for a sentence reduction, known as a downward departure, based on Kaufman's cooperation with authorities. They recommended a prison term of 57 months, or nearly five years.
Hunt went even lower, however, citing his desire to avoid sentencing disparities in the case.
In mid-July, the judge sentenced Colorado resident Richard Paul, a longtime friend of Bickle's and a key witness in the criminal case, to probation with eight months of home confinement.
Paul was the only co-defendant called to testify for the government at Bickle's trial.
Kaufman's lawyer, G. Allen Dale of Washington, D.C., said his client "cooperated as much as anybody possibly could."
Another defendant who assisted authorities, Las Vegas resident Omar Aguirre, was sentenced in October to five years in prison. Aguirre had a prior felony conviction.
Bickle, the only defendant in the case who went to trial, was convicted in October of 13 of the 15 counts he faced. Hunt sentenced him in mid-July to 18 years in prison.
During the trial, prosecutors identified Bickle as the ringleader of a conspiracy to deal unlawfully in firearms. They accused him of bringing machine guns and other weapons into the country from Iraq for his own profit.
Bickle, 34, was given an "other than honorable" discharge from the Navy in December.
Kaufman pleaded guilty in December 2010 to conspiracy and illegal transfer of a machine gun.
At Kaufman's request, Hunt recommended that the defendant serve his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island, Calif. Kaufman's sentence includes three years of supervision after his release.
Members of Kaufman's family attended Tuesday's hearing but declined to comment afterward.
The defendant is serving a six-month sentence in Tonopah for attempted embezzlement.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at email@example.com or 702-384-8710.