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Defendant in weapons case threatens prosecution

Jerzy Shedlock

A former Ketchikan resident was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Anchorage -- a proceeding after which witnesses observed him making implied and direct threats to members of the federal prosecution team.

James Mavromatis, 39, received a jail term of three years as well as three years of supervised release for “being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm,” according to an Alaska U.S. Attorney’s Office press release. He was tried and convicted of the federal charge in October. 

According to federal prosecutor Jack Schmidt, Mavromatis was convicted of felony vandalism in California more than a decade ago and committed to a mental institution. Upon his release in November 2009, a California Superior Court ordered the man to spend his yearlong probation period in an institution as well, Schmidt said. 

Despite Mavromatis’s status, which prohibited him from possessing a firearm, U.S. Forest Service officers contacted him at the Last Chance Campground in the Southeast community of Ketchikan on June 30, 2013 and discovered he was in possession of a “Czechoslovakian-made .40 caliber, semi-automatic handgun,” the press release says.

However, an initial background check failed to flag Mavromatis as someone who shouldn’t own a gun. Later that evening, a Forest Service officer was made aware of the error, and the next day, the officer returned to the campsite and took the firearm, turning it over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. That agency discovered Mavromatis had previously been committed.

Schmidt said the question of where the defendant obtained the handgun wasn’t addressed during the trial.

The press release says that after trial, Mavromatis became irate and made verbal threats toward Schmidt and the case agent. Schmidt said the defendant simulated as if he were shooting at them in court and said he’d “see” them again. Witnesses also reported that Mavromatis said he intended to obtain another gun upon release.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy M. Burgess noted Mavromatis’ extensive criminal history and his “untreated mental health issues," as well as the need to protect the public as reason for his imposed sentence, according to the press release. Schmidt said Burgess also recommended the man take advantage of mental health treatment while incarcerated, though he can’t be forced to do so.