The three Lancaster suspects who were arrested in November 2017 for possession of a grenade launcher and machine guns stolen from a National Guard armory have pleaded guilty and face 10 years in prison, according to federal prosecutors and court records.
And it was litter that led to their arrest and police finding the stolen weaponry.
Brandon Shane Polston, 32, Austin Lee Ritter, 23, and Kimberly Denise Cannon, 39, all of Lancaster, pleaded guilty earlier this month to being convicted felons in possession of firearms and illegal possession of a machine gun or destructive device, federal court documents show. Judge Michelle Childs accepted the guilty pleas for Ritter and Cannon on Monday, federal prosecutors said.
The weapons were seized Nov. 26, 2017, after a traffic stop over litter thrown from a vehicle the suspects were in turned up some of the weapons and methamphetamine, federal documents show.
Police then found the grenade launcher and other weaponry, including machine guns and night vision goggles at a Lancaster motel and home, records show.
"The investigation found text messages, selfies, and video surveillance that showed the weapons in their possession," said Stacey Haynes, the assistant U.SD. Attorney who is prosecuting the case.
The investigation showed that attempts were made by the suspects to sell the weapons, an ATF affidavit states.
It remains unclear how the three obtained the weapons or whom the suspects hoped to sell the weapons to.
An ATF affidavit in the case shows that the weapons were found to be stolen from an unsecured vault at the armory only after the weapons were seized. A door at the armory was also found unlocked and the weapons racks were unsecured, ATF agents said.
Polston retrieved the weapons from a ditch across the street from the armory before the arrest, records show.
Weapons, stolen goods and other charges against all three remain pending in Lancaster County criminal court.
The federal guilty plea agreements all three suspects signed state that federal prosecutors will recommend that state prosecutors do not pursue those charges.
Polston signed an agreement to plead guilty in federal court on June 12 but has not yet appeared in court for that plea to be accepted, federal documents show. Polston is scheduled to appear in federal court on July 9, records state.
Polston has a history of convictions that include burglary, assault and battery and receiving stolen goods, records show. Ritter has a felony conviction for accessory to a felony and Cannon has convictions in South Carolina and North Carolina, records show.
All three remain in federal custody.