DENVER — A former member of the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, was sentenced Thursday to serve three years in federal prison following her criminal conviction for illegally exporting firearms to the Dominican Republic in 2015.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Colorado announced this sentence with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
On Sept. 1, 2015, a federal grand jury indicted Katherine O'Neal, 43, for numerous firearm and illegal financing-type criminal charges. A superseding indictment was handed down on Nov. 20, 2016, with a second superseding indictment returned on Dec. 5, 2017. A jury found O’Neal guilty of smuggling goods from the United States on March 6, 2018. O'Neal was acquitted on other counts alleging false information on firearm-purchase forms and money laundering.
At trial, before U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martinez, the government introduced evidence showing that O'Neal made multiple trips to the Dominican Republic shortly after purchasing firearms in Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado. On one trip she flew from Denver to the Dominican Republic with 11 firearms in her luggage in early June 2015. O'Neal declared the firearms to the airline, but did not obtain the required State Department export license. Her bags had been misdirected by the airline and were not on her flight. When the bags arrived later, Dominican Republic officials noticed the handguns while examining her baggage. When O'Neal arrived at the airport to claim her luggage, she was arrested. The Dominican Republic has a ban on all imported firearms. A Denver jury found O'Neal guilty of smuggling goods from the United States.
O'Neal must also serve three years on supervised release after she completes her prison sentence.
“Illegally exporting firearms comes with stiff consequences,” said U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. “Her consequence was 3 years in federal prison.”
“This case was a coordinated effort to put a firearms trafficker behind bars,” ATF Denver Special Agent in Charge Debbie Livingston said. “She is very deserving of this sentence.”
The case was investigated by HSI, ATF, as well as the government of the Dominican Republic, where charges are pending her extradition to that country.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Brown and Kurt Bohn, District of Colorado, are prosecuting this case.