Thursday, August 16, 2012



Downtown El Paso pawnshop manager pleads guilty in weapons case
By Adriana M. Chávez / EL PASO
Posted:   08/16/2012 10:24:28 AM MDT   

The manager of a Downtown El Paso pawnshop pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges he conspired with others to launder money and smuggle weapons and ammunition into Mexico.

Bryan Nelson Schonberg pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and two counts of conspiracy to smuggle goods into the U.S. before Senior U.S. District Judge David Briones.

On Aug. 3, 2011, agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested Schonberg, the manager of the Geneva Loan and Jewelry Co., 222 S. El Paso, and five employees for allegedly selling repackaged assault-caliber ammunition to be smuggled into Mexico. Agents seized at least 34,500 rounds during the raid.

The employees arrested were Jaime Rangel, Guadalupe Gallegos, Cirilio Soriano, Elataria Pedroza and Raquel Galvan Molina. All have pleaded guilty to various charges and are scheduled to be sentenced later this month.

Federal indictments alleged Schonberg and his employees "sold large quantities of ammunition and large quantities of ammunition magazines to undercover agents." The indictments also stated Schonberg and the five employees knew the items would be smuggled into Mexico, and repacked the items into bundles and hid them in luggage.

During Wednesday's plea hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory McDonald read a factual basis, which Schonberg agreed was true, stating Schonberg knew employees sold the ammunition and weapons for export into Mexico. Schonberg also never obtained
permission from federal authorities to export the items.

Among the items seized by the federal government were 1 million rounds of ammunition, 44 weapons of various gauges and calibers, and about $173,000 from two bank accounts belonging to Schonberg and his wife, who owned Geneva Loan and Jewelry Co.

As part of Schonberg's plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to return some of the seized items, including a portion of the money, to Schonberg's wife. She has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

A sentencing date was not immediately available Wednesday.

Adriana M. Chávez may be reached at; 546-6117. Follow her on Twitter @AChavezEPTimes.

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