Tim Donnelly gets fine, probation after plea on gun charges
A California lawmaker who was detained and charged with bringing a loaded firearm to an airport earlier this year pleaded no contest Monday to misdemeanor gun charges.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a self-described tea party Republican from San Bernardino, was placed on probation for three years and fined $2,215 for an incident at Ontario International Airport in which security screeners discovered a loaded .45-caliber Colt Mark IV pistol and an ammunition magazine with an additional five rounds in his carry-on luggage.
As part of the plea agreement, Donnelly's gun and ammunition will be destroyed by law enforcement, and the lawmaker is barred from using, possessing or owning any firearm not registered to him, said Christopher Lee, a spokesman for the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office.
"Our intention all along was to treat Mr. Donnelly like any other person with these circumstances," Lee said, "and we believe today’s plea achieved that goal."
The lawmaker has characterized the incident as an "honest mistake," saying he had forgotten to remove the gun from his briefcase after placing it there while working in his home garage. On Monday, his lawyer, Rod Pacheco, described the plea bargain as a fair resolution to the case.
"He took responsibility from the very beginning," Pacheco said. "It’s been a distraction for him, obviously. Now that it’s over, he is very relieved and he can continue representing his constituents."
The charges -- carrying a loaded firearm in public without a concealed weapons permit and possessing a gun in an airport -- carried maximum sentences of up to 18 months in jail and $2,000 in fines. Judges have discretion to impose lighter or heavier sentences.
A vocal advocate for gun rights, Donnelly told reporters earlier this year that he regularly carried a firearm because he had received death threats since proposing to roll back state financial aid for illegal immigrants.
Donnelly, a former member of the volunteer border patrol group known as the Minutemen, was elected in 2010 on an anti-illegal-immigration platform.
--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: Tim Donnelly in his Sacramento office. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times