ATTLEBORO — A U.S. District Court judge has shot down arguments by federal prosecutors that an Attleboro man indicted for allegedly possessing 114 bullets should be held in pretrial detention because ammunition is a dangerous weapon.
Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal ruled last week that prosecutors did not cite, and she did not know of any, case law that defined ammunition as a dangerous weapon. In other contexts, she wrote, other courts have found it is not.
Prosecutors wanted the judge to keep Richard Philippe, 40, of Eden Court, in custody pending trial on charges of being a felon in possession of ammunition. Philippe was arrested earlier this year in connection with a gun trafficking investigation and has pleaded innocent.
Following the judge’s ruling, he was released on an unsecured bond.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives alleged Philippe trafficked over 100 guns from Georgia to Massachusetts between April and June. But when agents raided a warehouse Philippe rented in Taunton, they found the ammunition and only empty gun boxes, according to court records.
The judge also rejected arguments by prosecutors that Philippe, a native of Haiti who is a legal permanent resident of the United States, was a flight risk.
The judge said Philippe has lived in the country for over 25 years and has a wife and two children who have moved to Rhode Island since his arrest. He is also the father of an 18-year-old from a previous relationship who lives in South Carolina with his mother.
In addition, she said, Philippe’s mother and sister live in New York City and he has other relatives in Chicago and Haiti. His passport from Haiti is expired, according to the judge.
Philippe, she wrote, has served prison time for carrying a pistol and drug possession, but he has been self-employed running a computer repair business in addition to selling antiques, furniture and electronics.
Previous firearms charges in federal court in Georgia related to the gun trafficking case have been dismissed, Boal wrote. While the pending case contains allegations that Phillipe engaged in the dealing of a large number of firearms, “the indictment contains no such charge,” the judge said.
His lawyers proposed releasing Philippe with conditions, including electronic monitoring and a requirement that he live with his family in Rhode Island.
He was released on those conditions.