Fairchild airman charged in plot to steal ammunition is sentenced to probation

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Emma Epperly
The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.

An airman involved in a plot to steal ammunition from Fairchild Air Force Base was sentenced in federal court Wednesday to probation after he cooperated with investigators.

Shawn Robson, a noncommissioned officer in charge of the base’s Combat Arms Training Management section, will have to serve 18 months of probation. He pleaded guilty in March to possession of stolen ammunition .

While Robson had ammunition at his home, he said in court Wednesday that he was unaware of a larger plot, which included online statements supporting the seizure of the U.S. Capitol building, and cooperated with the FBI as soon as they confronted him with new information.

Due to his cooperation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to a sentence below the guideline of 6 to 12 months in prison followed by probation, instead recommending probation alone.

Ahead of sentencing, Robson apologized. His attorney noted Robson has mental health issues related to his time in the military and stemming from this incident.

“I’m very sorry for my mistake that I made,” Robson said. “I wasn’t thinking in my right mind.”

Because of his crime, Robson will be discharged from the Air Force and plans to work at a grocery store to provide for his four children, he said in court.

“I will accept my punishment with humility,” he said.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice sentenced Robson to 18 months of probation along with a $4,000 fine. Robson also must complete a mental health evaluation and subsequent treatment.

The sentence was a “fair and sufficient punishment considering all the other consequences of your actions,” Rice said.

Robson is one of six airmen from the base indicted in a scheme that was discovered after John Sanger, the lead defendant, was linked to a social media account that in December 2020 called for violent seizure of the U.S. Capitol building, which came to pass several weeks later. In that post, Sanger wrote “They defrauded our election system and are still getting away with it. That means this system has run (its) course. People have to die.”

The FBI and Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations recruited an undercover agent to befriend Sanger, who took the agent shooting at the Fishtrap Recreation Area after sharing messages in which Sanger “acknowledged he is a racist and blames the United States’ woes on Jews and African Americans,” according to an FBI affidavit filed in support of Sanger’s indictment.

The undercover source recorded Sanger and Eric Eagleton, another member of the scheme, discussing stealing ammunition from the base for target practice.

Robson told authorities he was responsible, and authorities from the FBI and the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations recovered roughly 3,000 stolen rounds of ammunition at his home.

Robson was not present at the shooting range, according to court records.

Eagleton has since pleaded guilty to possession of stolen ammunition, and was sentenced Thursday to six months in prison. Another indicted conspirator, Jonah Pierce, pleaded guilty in April to a charge of receipt of stolen government property. Authorities found in his home between 1,000 and 2,000 rounds of ammunition and a red-dot optic device for aiming, both stolen from the base.

Prosecutors want Pierce to serve six months, the same as Eagleton, according to court records. He’s scheduled to be sentenced July 6.

Fellow defendants Nathan Richards and Austin Limacher are scheduled to go to trial with Sanger on Sept. 11. They face up to 10 years in prison.

Sanger is in custody, while the other defendants had been released from jail awaiting trial or sentencing. Rice granted a request from Sanger to move the trial from this month to September in order to resolve his “discharge and potential court-martial,” according to court records.

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