Upland man pleads guilty in weapons case
by Richard K. De Atley
June 7, 2007
Reprinted from The Press-Enterprise
A Cuban émigré who once claimed the 1,500 guns that authorities found in his Upland home were meant to help overthrow Fidel Castro has pleaded guilty to a single count of illegal weapons possession.
Robert Ferro, 62, entered the plea Monday before U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips, who set Aug. 27 for sentencing, court records show. Ferro could face up to 10 years in federal prison.
Ferro had previously been convicted in state court of possession of explosives.
He was arrested last year after police searching for a handgun at his Upland home uncovered a cache of weapons that authorities said included machine guns and a hand grenade.
Besides the guns, 89,000 rounds of ammunition were recovered. Many of the weapons were stashed behind false walls.
Ferro originally was named in a five-count federal indictment that included two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms and three counts of possession of unregistered guns.
In May, the government filed a new indictment with one count charging him as a felon in possession of firearms. The new indictment's single charge named 16 of the 17 guns listed in the original charges, plus a hand grenade.
Among the weapons to which Ferro pleaded guilty of possessing Monday were pistols with silencers attached and automatic weapons, including an M-16, an Uzi, and a Thompson submachine gun.
Ferro's case once included tantalizing claims by him that he was involved with the anti-Castro group Alpha 66, had once worked for the CIA, and was in the U.S. Army Special Forces.
His defense attorneys applied for special security clearance so they could view anticipated classified documents that might be used in his defense.
But Alpha 66 quickly denied any association with Ferro. Government attorneys filed documents claiming the CIA had no contact with Ferro, and that his military records indicated an active duty of six months in the early 1960s.
Convict facing 10 years for weapons
by Rod Leveque
June 8, 2007
Reprinted from Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
RIVERSIDE - The Upland man who was arrested after police found more than 1,500 guns in his home will face up to 10 years in prison when he returns to court in August.
Robert Ferro pleaded guilty to an illegal weapons possession count this week in U.S. District Court in Riverside.
Police found the guns in April 2006 in Ferro's home on Tapia Way. Included in the arsenal were 35 machine guns, 130 silencers, three short-barreled rifles, a live hand grenade, a rocket-launcher tube and 89,000 rounds of ammunition.
Ferro is not allowed to have any guns because of a prior felony conviction for possessing explosives.
Ferro claimed he was a member of Alpha-66, a militant group with aims to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
Ferro had contended he amassed the weapons with the blessing of the U.S. government, and his change of plea would seem to mark an abrupt about-face in his perception of his case.
He had previously proclaimed his innocence loudly, calling his actions a "noble thing to do in defense of freedom."
Ferro wrote letters from jail in which he held himself out as a patriot. He pleaded with the community to rise up and support him.
Ferro's Florida-based attorney, Arturo Hernandez, declined to comment on the plea on Friday, as did Ferro's wife, Maria.
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, also opted to not comment.
He is set to return to court on Aug. 27.
Photo Gallery: Massive Weapons Arsenal Seized