FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A former Fairbanks chiropractor who pleaded guilty to possessing illegal weapons tied to a murder-for-hire plot has been sentenced to three years in federal prison.
Guy Christopher Mannino, 56, offered a machine gun and silencer to an informant for use in shooting attorney John Tiemessen, the attorney for former Gov. Sarah Palin, in a matter unrelated to Palin, the 2008 Republican nominee for vice president, federal prosecutors say.
Mannino in a separate case is charged with solicitation to commit murders of federal officers. The case is scheduled for trial this month, but it could be delayed.
Mannino once held a gun dealer license. He made headlines in February 2013 when he set off explosives at a Fairbanks gun range. The shock wave damaged nearby homes. A state grand jury chose not to indict him on a felony criminal mischief charge.
He was arrested in September 2013 on the illegal weapons charges.
In his plea agreement, Mannino admitted that he had transferred an unregistered Sten 9mm machine gun and a silencer for a rifle to another person. The machine gun had been modified to work as a fully automatic weapon.
Mannino transferred the weapons as part of a murder-for-hire plot, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini said Thursday.
"What the evidence showed and what we presented during the evidentiary hearings is that when Mannino gave the Sten machine gun to this guy, it was specifically related to the plot to kill Tiemessen," Bottini said. "The guy who was cooperating said that the Sten, specifically, was discussed as a weapon to be used, not for compensation necessarily, but as am implement for the actual act of the murder."
The man fired the machine gun at a range and returned the gun and silencer to Mannino. They were later seized.
Tiemessen represented another Fairbanks chiropractor in a lawsuit filed by Mannino, who claimed the other chiropractor during a courtesy adjustment had seriously injured his back.
"The defense, essentially, was that the lawsuit was fraudulent, and though the adjustment occurred, the injury never occurred," Tiemessen said.
Mannino thought he was going to lose the case, Bottini said at sentencing Wednesday. He solicited a fellow firearms enthusiast and occasional employee to carry out the murder.
The murder plot was not carried out. The man called Alaska State Troopers and agreed to act as an informant.
Tiemessen said that when agents from the FBI and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed up and told him a weapon had been transferred to an informant, Tiemessen took the threat seriously.
"I absolutely thought it was real. I took it seriously, and I took and continue to take all necessary precautions to protect me and my family."
Mannino could not be charged in federal court with the murder plot, Bottini said. "For the federal murder-for-hire statute, you have to have a facility of interstate commerce used in furtherance of the scheme or you have to have someone traveling in interstate commerce. We had neither here in relation to the Tiemessen plot," he said.
Mannino's role in the murder plot was considered "relevant conduct" and taken into account in the illegal weapons sentencing. He was also convicted of concealing real estate, firearms, gold, cash and other assets in a bankruptcy case and lying under oath about it.
Mannino reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in March 2014. While in jail awaiting sentencing, he was charged in November with solicitation to commit murders of federal officers.
"Those folks include the federal agents who investigated the first case," Bottini said.
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com