LAWYER SPEAKS OUT ON FILIPINO GUN TRAFFICKERS' GUILTY VERDICT

Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

LOS ANGELES–After three weeks of testimonies and nearly a week’s worth of jury deliberations, a jury has found Sergio Syjuco, Cesar Ubaldo, and Arjyl Revereza each guilty on five counts which included conspiracy to illegally sell and import weapons into the U.S.

Family members and the defendants themselves were in tears inside the courtroom. “My client and his family are emotionally devastated. It was a tough verdict. We were surprised it came back guilty on all counts and I think the jury made a lot of assumptions in favor of the prosecution and instead of following the jury instructions that prove beyond a reasonable doubt and giving the defendants the benefit of the doubt, they gave the prosecution the benefit of the doubt,” said Ubaldo’s attorney David McLane.

The federal governments had come under fire during the legal proceedings when undercover FBI agent Charles Ro, posing as a weapons broker for the Mexican Mafia, was unable to arrest suspected big time weapons dealer Roland Dacia.

Ro was introduced to Ubaldo, who described himself as a struggling businessman in the military supplies business. He then introduced Ro to Syjuco, a gun collector.

Ubaldo then introduced undercover FBI agents to Revereza who worked for Philippine customs. The three men then sold tens of thousands of dollars worth of guns to Ro and arranged it’s shipment to the U.S.

They claim, they were entrapped and pressured by Ro, who took them to strip clubs, to do business with him. All three told jurors that Ro never told them that the weapons were destined for the United States.

“The entrapment was agent Ro bought prostitutes for my client to convince him to supply the weapons and it’s clear that he did do that and he sucked my client into the sting. My client Cesar Ubaldo, Everybody calls him RV, is a University of the Philippines graduate. He had legitimate businesses in the Philippines, was never involved in illegal weapons trafficking,” said McLane.

“I’m going to ask for a time served sentence so he can go back to the Philippines. My original view of this case it should have never been prosecuted in the United states. They went after them, they tricked them into coming into the United States and they arrest them here and every single act in the indictment occurred in the Philippines. This case really belonged in the Philippines,” explained McLane.

The FBI’s Los Angeles office issued a statement shortly after the conviction saying, “The undercover case agent assigned to this investigation and his family endured true hardship during this lengthy trial, during which he was accused of unfounded illegal activity. It’s clear the jury weighed the evidence in reaching a guilty verdict, and not theories put forth by the defense.”

Sentencing for the three Filipinos is scheduled for June. The U.S. Justice Department says they face maximum sentences of 20 years each and possible fines up to a million dollars.

Contact Steve Angeles at steve_angeles@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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