MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — Denying prosecution suggestions he had any intention of shooting up a high school football game, an Oregon man pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges he had a gun on school grounds and was a marijuana user in possession of firearms.
U.S. District Judge Owen Panner agreed, releasing 27-year-old self-employed handyman Raphael Amoroso of Grants Pass from jail until he returns to court for sentencing Oct 29. He faces a likely sentence of more than two years in federal prison, plus three years of supervision after his release, and orders never to possess any guns again. He has spent the past 10 months in jail awaiting trial.
Referencing the recent shooting attacks on a movie theater in Colorado and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, Panner said, "I don't believe you fall into the pattern that so many people have created. You didn't do anything violent and I don't believe you will do again."
Amoroso was arrested last October after approaching a police officer outside Grants Pass High School, where a football game had been played a few hours earlier. He told the officer he had a gun and marijuana in his car, and had been at the high school checking on his senior project, a bike rack.
He was initially arrested on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana and released. A search of his car turned up marijuana, a loaded .45-caliber automatic pistol, 200 rounds of rifle ammunition, binoculars, a camouflage jacket and the novel "Enemies Foreign and Domestic," a favorite with gun enthusiasts. It tells the story of a rogue federal agent who plots a sniper attack on a professional football game to bring about a ban on semiautomatic rifles.
A week later, police searched the home Amoroso shared with his mother and found seven more guns, mostly vintage military rifles, as well as sniper gear — a camouflage sniper's suit, sniper manuals, a ballistic helmet and 2,000 rounds of rifle ammunition. Authorities also found a printout from a website about picking what kind of terrorist to be, a note about combining chemicals to produce an explosive, armor-piercing bullet tips, a bulletproof vest, and an inch-thick piece of steel with an armor-piercing bullet stuck in it.
"On the night in question, I had no plans nor ever had any unusual thoughts in regard to violence," Amoroso read from a handwritten note after pleading guilty.
Prosecutor Judith Harper argued Amoroso should remain behind bars. She said it was hard to take seriously the recommendations of two psychologists that Amoroso presents a low risk of violence if he is released, since he has never received the psychological or drug treatment recommended since high school. He scrawled a note on a school desk saying he wanted to shoot teachers, and fired a pellet gun that wounded a passenger on a passing tour boat on the Rogue River.
She added that Amoroso was diagnosed as being narcissistic and obsessive-compulsive, with histrionic seizures, which made it difficult for him to relate to other people.
Standing straight in a gray jail jumpsuit, his hands free but clasped behind his back, Amoroso repeated the word, "Guilty," twice in answer to the two counts in the indictment.
He asked for his release in order to begin treatment, which has not been available in jail.
After the hearing, he was handcuffed and taken back to custody. Defense lawyer Larry Roloff said he would be released later in the day.