Fil-Am cop, brother plead guilty to gun smuggling
Joseph Lariosa (The Philippine Star) - March 5, 2015 - 12:00am

CHICAGO – A Filipino-American New York police officer and his brother have pleaded guilty to gun smuggling charges and may face reduced prison terms.

The offense is punishable with a maximum sentence of 57 to 71 months in prison.

The sentence for New York police officer Rex Maralit, 45, and his elder brother Wilfredo Maralit, 49, a US Customs and Border Protection officer assigned at the Los Angeles International Airport in California, could be whittled down to 53-61 months if their 44-year-old brother and co-accused Ariel Maralit would likewise plead guilty to exporting “military grade/style” firearms to the Philippines without obtaining permit from the US State Department.

According to court records, the sentence can further be reduced to “offense level at 22” if Rex and Wilfredo would be able to convince Ariel to come to the US to plead guilty to the offense before the US District Court of the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.

During a court hearing on June 12 last year when Rex and Wilfredo changed their not guilty plea to guilty, District Judge Allyne Ross warned the brothers that if they again change their pleas, they could be subjected to another prosecution for perjury or false statement.

Ross made sure that Rex and Wilfredo Maralit had consulted with their lawyers Michelle Gelernt and Louis Freeman regarding the impact of their pleas.

They were told by the judge that violation of the Arms Export Control Act was punishable with a maximum prison term of up to 20 years and fines of up to $1 million.

The Maralit brothers were accused of sending military grade firearms to Manila by shipping them in boxes on airplanes at the JFK international airport in New York between 2009 and 2013.

Freeman told Ross that Wilfredo had thought his brothers had already completed the required licensing paperwork when he made the shipment. “However, he came to know that they didn’t do it before they shipped it. So, the knowledge and intent is there. He’s just in a different position,” Freeman said.

Ross still accepted Wilfredo’s plea to Count Two of the Indictment because the latter acted voluntarily when he made the plea.

Assistant US Attorney Seth DuCharme appeared on behalf of US Attorney Loretta Lynch.

Prosecutors said Rex had repeatedly supplied assault rifles, sniper rifles and semi-automatic weapons to “co-conspirators” in the Philippines when he was still New York City Police officer.

He had reportedly accumulated a cache of dangerous weapons and munitions in unsafe condition in his house where children also live.

His “unsafe handling of firearms clearly poses a grave threat to the community, both within the United States and abroad,” prosecutors said.

Evidence against the accused included emails, photographs, shipping records and search warrant results, among others.

US authorities are coordinating with Philippine authorities for the arrest of Ariel, accused of receiving the gun shipments labeled as “television” and placed in balikbayan boxes coursed through Five Star RP Sea Cargo Inc. based in New Jersey.

A FILIPINO-AMERICAN NEW YORK ARIEL MARALIT ARMS EXPORT CONTROL ACT ATTORNEY LORETTA LYNCH ATTORNEY SETH COUNT TWO OF THE INDICTMENT CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION DISTRICT COURT OF THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK NEW YORK REX AND WILFREDO
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