Three charged in sale of automatic assault rifle

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

   Two Elizabethton men and a Virginia woman have been charged with the sale of an automatic assault rifle following investigation by the First Judicial District Drug Task Force and Carter County Sheriff's Department.
   DTF Director Kenneth Phillips said Thursday in a press release that a confidential informant working for DTF arranged to purchase a MAK-90 assault rifle from Edward Timbs, 47, 112 Suess Road, after receiving information from Investigator Chris Pierce of Carter County Sheriff's Department concerning an individual who had an automatic weapon for sale.
   DTF agents met with the undercover operative and arranged for the transaction to take place at 6 p.m., Aug. 27, at Blackberry Station in Valley Forge. The informant purchased the MAK-90 in a hand-to-hand sale and the suspects were arrested in the station parking lot. Agents also seized a 30-round clip.
   When arrested, Timbs was found to have a hunting knife with approximately a 9-inch blade tucked inside his boot and also was in possession of marked DTF currency. He was charged with sale of a prohibited weapon, conspiracy to sell a prohibited weapon, unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and unlawful possession of a weapon. He was being held without bond Thursday in Carter County Jail.
   John Glenn Reece, 40, 199 Marion Branch Road, also arrested as a result of the transaction, was found to be wearing a Llama .45-caliber pistol in a shoulder holster at the time of his arrest and also had a hunting knife with a 5-inch blade down inside one of his boots. Reece did not have a carrying permit for the .45, according to DTF. Both weapons were confiscated.
   Reece was charged with sale of a prohibited weapon, conspiracy to sell a prohibited weapon, two counts of unlawful possession of a weapon and resisting arrest. He was released from jail Tuesday on $2,500 corporate bond.
   Cynthia Leigh Dalton, 36, 4368 Cooksburg Road, Chatham, Va., was charged with sale of a prohibited weapon and conspiracy to sell a prohibited weapon. Dalton reportedly drove Timbs and Reece to Blackberry Station and also took part in the transaction. She was released from jail Tuesday per General Sessions Court Judge John Walton. A hearing for all three suspects has been set for Oct. 1 in General Sessions Court.
   According to DTF's Phillips, the three subjects could face federal charges pending the outcome of an investigation by agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. According to a DTF agent, Timbs represented the 7.62 x .39-caliber weapon as being fully automatic. However, after looking at the weapon, ATF has determined that it actually is semi-automatic, but is possibly on a machine-gun frame, which also is illegal.
   "Until it is verified that it is not on a machine-gun frame, we're going to maintain the charge of a prohibited weapon because that's how he was selling it," the DTF agent said.
   The MAK-90 is similar to an SKS assault rifle except that it has thumbhole grips, he said.
   Timbs is facing a charge of felony larceny in North Carolina stemming from theft of the MAK-90, and also is wanted in Virginia on a charge of violation of probation stemming from a felony hit-and-run, according to the DTF agent.