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California lawmaker seeks plea deal on gun charges

March 15, 2012 |  4:00 pm

Tim Donnelly
A California lawmaker who was detained and cited for bringing a loaded gun to an airport earlier this year is seeking a plea deal with prosecutors.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a self-described "tea party" Republican from San Bernardino, was charged last month with two misdemeanors after 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.

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, and has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His lawyer, Rod Pacheco, told the Sacramento Bee on Thursday that he was working to reach a plea deal with San Bernardino County prosecutors.

"The justice system needs to mete out justice in a fair manner, taking into consideration various circumstances," Pacheco told the newspaper.

Pacheco, a former legislator and Riverside County district attorney, said he asked prosecutors to consider that Donnelly had received death threats because of his advocacy for rolling back state financial aid for illegal immigrants.

(The offices of the Assembly speaker and that of the sergeant at arms, which provides security for members, have said the lawmaker reported no such threats to them.) He also said the lawmaker was quick to take responsibility for the incident.

"It was easy for him to forget that he had put something in his computer case to protect his child from it," Pacheco said.

The offenses -- carrying a loaded firearm in public without a concealed weapons permit and possessing a gun in an airport -- are punishable by up to 18 months in jail and $2,000 in fines.


Assemblyman says he mistakenly brought gun to flight

Gun charges filed against San Bernardino assemblyman

Making law by talking 'war'

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento


Photo: Tim Donnelly in his Sacramento office. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times