A convenience store clerk from Parsippany was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for illegally possessing two machine guns he had converted into automatic weapons.

Adam Coughlan, 29, apologized to Superior Court Judge David Ironson in Morristown and said his purpose in converting the guns was for ”the mechanical challenge,” as he has always enjoyed such activity, including making his own guitars.

”I humbly ask the mercy of the court,” said Coughlan, who was arrested in May 2009 after authorities said he was negotiating with an informant to sell him an assault weapon.

Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Brad Seabury asked the judge to impose a 10-year sentence, with six years of parole ineligibility. Defense lawyer Gregg Trautmann asked that the two counts run concurrently. The judge agreed, imposing a sentence of five years, with three years to be served before parole consideration.

Seabury said a 10-year sentence was warranted, comparing Coughlan’s arrest to the disarming ”of a ticking time bomb.”

Trautmann, however, said that Coughlan was ”naive” and didn’t want to sell to the informant. Seabury countered that Coughlan was reluctant to sell guns to the informant, identified as Victor Columbo, because he was worried his fingerprints were on the innards of the firearms.

The judge went through an analysis in deciding whether consecutive or concurrent terms were appropriate for the two counts. He concluded that the acquisition and conversion of the two weapons could be viewed as a single act, occurring close in time. Coughlan has no criminal record and the offense did not involve multiple victims, the judge said.

As part of his plea, Coughlan can never own a firearm again and must forfeit to the state all the weapons seized when he was arrested.

At his plea in May, he admitted that he bought a kit over the Internet to illegally convert two semi-automatic AK-47-style weapons into fully-automatic machine guns. During a raid at his home, authorities found numerous weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.

Source: Peggy Wright for the Daily Record.

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