GREENBELT, Md. (WMAR) — Federal prosecutors called him a domestic terrorist intent on carrying out a mass killing. His defense attorney called him a loving father. Thursday, after initially pleading not guilty, a United States Coast Guard Lieutenant from Maryland pleaded guilty to four federal drug and gun charges.
50-year-old Christopher Hasson plead guilty to unlawful possession of unregistered silencers, unlawful possession of firearm silencers unidentified by serial number, possession of firearms by an addict to and unlawful user of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance.
“He’s a loving man, an honorable man and I hope he comes home soon," said Hasson's wife Shannon Hasson after the plea change Thursday.
“I am grateful for the hard work of the agents and prosecutors to obtain this guilty plea. I look forward to the opportunity for the government to present additional evidence to the Court at sentencing,” said United States Attorney Robert K. Hur.
Hasson has been in custody since being arrested back on February 15 at his place of work, the United States Coast Guard Headquarters in D.C.
There, agents recovered 196 pills of the opioid Tramadol from Hasson’s backpack and 106 Tramadol pills from Hasson’s desk.
A search of his Silver Spring home resulted in 122 Tramadol pills, and 15 guns; seven rifles, two shotguns, four pistols, two revolvers, and an assembled and disassembled firearm silencer.
Hundreds of rounds of ammunition and multiple magazines capable of holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition were also found in Hasson's home.
Though he hasn't been charged with any terror related crimes, federal prosecutors accuse Hasson of compiling a hit list consisting mainly of media personalities and Democratic Congressional leaders.
In his plea agreement, Hasson admitted that from at least March 2016 through early February 2019, he used different e-mail accounts, including an overseas encrypted e-mail account, to order the opioid Tramadol from various illegal Internet-based distributors based out of Mexico. Hasson usually paid for the Tramadol by wiring money through MoneyGram or Western Union.
Hasson admitted that he then concealed the Tramadol in other packaging at his residence and work. Hasson ordered at least 4,650 Tramadol pills and personally took the pills, usually daily, including while he was at work. Hasson knew that he did not have a lawful prescription for Tramadol and that his possession of the drug was illegal. During the time of his use of Tramadol, Hasson also conducted Internet searches and visited websites that discussed addiction and Tramadol withdrawal.
According to the plea agreement, Hasson ordered the components of the firearm silencers from a company in California and used a drill to complete and assemble one firearm silencer. Hasson knew the firearm silencers were not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, and that they did not have serial numbers, as required by law.
Federal prosecutors said they will seek the maximum sentence of 31 years, while Hasson's attorney Liz Oyer said she believes the minimum of 3.5 years is fair for the crimes he committed.
“Today's plea reflects that Mr. Hasson accepts responsibility for the offenses he did commit: unlawfully possessing firearms and abusing prescription drugs. Like many Americans, Mr. Hasson has struggled with addiction to a prescription opioid painkiller. That addiction made it a violation of federal law for him to possess firearms.
Today's plea also highlights that this case has been mischaracterized and sensationalized from the start. It is not a domestic terrorism case. Mr. Hasson was not plotting a terrorist attack or any of the abhorrent acts that the prosecution has repeatedly speculated about but never actually charged . Mr. Hasson is a peaceful, loving family man. He has devoted his life to serving his country. He and his wife have two grown children who have gone on to do the same.
Mr. Hasson never meant any harm to anyone. He deeply regrets the pain and embarrassment that he has caused his family and the U.S. Coast Guard, which he has proudly and honorably served for more than 20 years. We hope that with Mr. Hasson's guilty plea, we can move past the rhetoric that has clouded the actual facts of this case. Mr. Hasson accepts that he will be fairly punished for the crimes he did commit. He is anxious to close this chapter and begin rebuilding his life," wrote Oyer in a statement.
Hasson is scheduled to be sentenced on January 31 at 9:30 a.m. in front of U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel. He faces a maximum of 31-years behind bars and $370,000 fine. Federal prosecutors told the judge Thursday they will call witnesses and to expect that the sentencing hearing will take the whole day.
To read more on the Hasson case click here.