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Former Indiana Marine Faces Criminal Charges

Last updated on Tuesday, February 14, 2012

(INDIANAPOLIS) - A former Marine who’s facing criminal charges after trying to check his Indiana-registered handgun at the Empire State Building has turned down a plea deal, his attorney said.

Ryan Jerome, 28, who works as a jeweler in South Bend, told police he took his .45-caliber Ruger to New York in September because he was transporting $15,000 in gold to a Long Island refinery.

Jerome was arrested Sept. 27 when he visited the Empire State Building and alerted authorities he was carrying a gun after seeing a sign that said all weapons must be checked, his attorney said.

In New York, it's a felony to possess a gun, even one legally registered elsewhere, unless it is registered in New York. The charge charges a 3 1/2-year mandatory minimum sentence.

Before his trip, Jerome checked online with his phone to see whether his Indiana carry permit was reciprocal with New York, but a cellphone glitch confused him, his attorney said.

Prosecutors offered Jerome a no-jail, misdemeanor deal, but the former tow gunner turned it down, continuing to push for the case to be dropped altogether.

"We acknowledge that the (New York District Attorney's Office) has publicly stated that a 'no jail' misdemeanor offer, which would result in a permanent criminal record, has been conveyed," attorney Mark Bederow said in a statement. "We have previously stated that we believe dismissal is appropriate in light of the facts and circumstances. Nothing has changed that view."

Jerome's case has sparked several blog and letter-writing campaigns, some aimed directly at NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, a Marine Vietnam veteran, from Marines urging the charges be dropped.

Jerome is expected back in court March 20.

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