ACCUSED NAVY SEAL A HERO, OR ARMS
SMUGGLER? PO1 NICHOLAS BICKLE ARRESTED
ALONG WITH TWO OTHERS - CHARGED WITH
SELLING AK-47's AND OTHER WEAPONRY
SEAL REMAINS LOCKED UP AFTER FEDS CALL
HIM "DANGEROUS" AND "A FLIGHT RISK"
© 2010 MilitaryCorruption.com
It depends on who you talk to.
PO1 Nick Bickle's former commanding officer in Iraq, CMDR Thomas Chaby says Bickle was "one of my best men." The much-decorated SEAL boss was in a courtroom in San Diego with twenty others who proudly wear the Trident badge as the 33 year-old defendant heard himself described by federal prosecutors as a "dangerous man" and "flight risk."
Bickle is accused of conspiring with two associates to smuggle illegal weapons into the United States and sell them to the highest bidder. In this case, the SEAL is alleged to have supplied AK-47 sub-machine guns to a federal undercover agent who pretended to be an arms merchant, buying the lethal hardware for customers in Mexico.
SEAL HAD CLEAN RECORD PRIOR TO ARREST
Everything in Bickle's background would indicate he is not a criminal. A little over a year after enlisting in the Navy in 2004, the sailor graduated from SEAL training at Coronado, Calif., and according to all accounts we have seen, did his duty in an exemplary manner until his arrest in San Diego last week.
The petty officer 1st class, who was a SEAL warfare tactics instructor at Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, even served as a technical advisor on the Hollywood movie "Transformed 3."
His parents have volunteered to put their home up to meet bail, which was initially granted by Judge William Gallo, who expressed sympathy and respect for Bickle from the bench. Gallo cited his 27 years of service in the Marine Corps as being one reason he was willing to allow Bickle temporary freedom. But a furious federal prosecutor, Drew Smith, argued against the move, calling Bickle a "Rouge SEAL" and saying the Navy man had disgraced his uniform. "What we have here," he said, "is greed at any cost."
Judge Gallo backed off, and Bickle will remain in custody, at least for now.
Court papers show that Bickle is alleged to have snuck the weapons into the country from Iraq and Afghanistan with the help of two confederates: Richard Paul, 34, of Durango, Colo., and Andrew Kaufman of Las Vegas. If convicted on all charges, the trio could receive up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.