MAYVILLE – Benjamin M. Wassell, 33, of Silver Creek, who was accused of twice selling weapons now prohibited under the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, (SAFE) avoided jail time at a sentencing hearing today before Judge Michael L. D’Amico.
Although Wassell originally had been charged with violating the SAFE act, prosecutors later dropped those charges but retained three third-degree felony counts against him: possession of an illegal firearm, sale of a firearm and possession with intent to sell.
Wassell was convicted in March in a jury trial and was sentenced today to five years probation.
Wassell asked the court for leniency and the chance to try to provide for his wife and two children. “I have never been in trouble before and I will not be in trouble again,” he said. Wassell maintains his innocence and said he was misguided by a local firearms salesman who told him he could sell the weapons. “I respect that the jury did not agree,” he added.
Wassell spoke about his military history and service with the U.S. Marine Corps and Marine Reserves. He said he served in Iraq and was wounded.
The felonies could have resulted in jail time for the defendant. “I am happy to see an adjustment in attitude,” said the judge after Wassell’s statement in court.
The prosecution’s statement included comments that Wassell had not shown remorse.
“It is the law and we have to abide by the law even if we do not agree with it,” the judge continued.
He outlined terms of the probation and reminded Wassell that he is not to use alcohol or drugs or possess any firearms. Wassell told the court that he lost his job after his conviction but that he was trying to work doing home remodeling and would like to try to support his family and not use unemployment insurance.
“This conviction is an impediment to employment, but I think you have shown that you can overcome obstacles,” said the judge. “It is a bump in the road, not the end of the road.”
The case was prosecuted by the State Attorney General’s Office. Attorney Cydney Kelly represented the prosecution and Michael Deal represented Wassell.