One surefire way for a convicted criminal to catch the ire of prosecutors is to commit additional felonies while on probation.
Usually, such offenders face enhanced punishments.
But that is not what happened to Adam Andrew Gitschlag, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) from 2001 to 2005.
In 2010, federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) arrested Gitschlag, then a San Clemente resident, for selling cases of high-powered assault weapons, including AK-47s and AR-15s, to Florencia 13 criminal street gang, a murderous Mexican Mafia subsidiary in Los Angeles.
He first denied guilt by parading his patriotism, later confessed and received a punishment of probation, despite the seriousness of the charges.
In 2013, while on probation for the weapons trafficking, agents re-arrested Gitschlag for acquiring stolen USMC property and using Craigslist, eBay and Calguns websites to sell the items while using an anonymous identity.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) eventually took control of more than $143,000 in his bank account from the sales and confiscated another $184,000 in stolen military equipment he still possessed, according to court records.
Those items included flame-resistant USMC underwear, cross bows, gas masks, laser beams, night vision devices, computers, ponchos, shirts, sleeping bags, combat trousers, armored vests, rifle grips, boots, jackets, ready-to-eat meals and a military-grade telescope banned from civilian use.
According to federal law, Louisiana-native Gitschlag faced a maximum prison trip of 10 years or, using guidelines enacted to prevent glaring sentencing disparities, a term of 24 to 30 months of prison incarceration.
But in late May, Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) S. Wesley Gorman with DOJ’s Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section in Los Angeles, pushed to ditch the guidelines and requested probation again for Gitschlag.
Gorman offered threefold reasoning: the marine’s combat tour in Iraq as a convoy gunner, injuries he suffered in a vehicle explosion in Fallujah, and a curious argument.
“Defendant has indicated that he did not have actual knowledge that the military property he sold was stolen, but instead deliberately ignored its high probability of being stolen,” the federal prosecutor advised U.S. District Court Judge John P. Walter. “In the government’s view, under the circumstances of this case, this both mitigates his culpability and presented a litigation risk that was assessed in entering into the below-guidelines plea agreement.”
But this prosecutor either accidentally misstated his agency’s own files or willfully ignored them.
OC Weekly has learned that in 2014 another AUSA, Jonathan Galatzan of DOJ’s Asset Forfeiture Section in LA, reported evidence that Gitschlag hadn’t been the bumbling, Gomer Pyle idiot Gorman ultimately presented to the judge; he’d been the mastermind.
“During the course of [a Naval Criminal Investigatory Service] investigation, a male active duty U.S. Marine [stationed at Camp Pendleton] provided information to NCIS that Gitschlag had asked him to obtain night vision devices [which were stolen for him],” Galatzan memorialized in DOJ files on a Feb. 20, 2014.
In mid-May, Gitschlag told Judge Walter he is trying to put the criminal cases behind him, has relocated to Pensacola and is in the process of obtaining a business administration degree from the University of West Florida.
Judge Walter then handed the 36-year-old, weapons-trafficking, stolen-property selling Gitschlag, a repeat offender, punishment of . . . probation.
Meanwhile, in March, DOJ in Los Angeles won a 4-year prison sentence against Axel Fernando Galvez of Watts for selling AR-15s and silencers.
In Oct. 2017, DOJ won a 13-year sentence against Francisco Juantonio Hilt of Compton for selling military-style guns to the Mexican Mafia. Hilt’s two co-conspirators received prison terms of 24 months and 63 months.
In 2013, DOJ won a 24-year prison sentence against Julio Cesar Ramirez of the Inland Empire for weapons trafficking.
The Gitschlag scandal follows news in May that the FBI arrested Zachary Kahl, another U.S. Marine tied to Camp Pendleton, on the charge of sexually molesting a Japanese tourist on a flight from Tokyo.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; earned six dozen other reporting awards; and been hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.