Pa. Congressman's staffer pleads guilty to weapons charges, says bringing gun was accident

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WASHINGTON — A Pennsylvania congressman's press secretary pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor weapons charges, acknowledging that he accidentally carried an unloaded gun and ammunition into a Congressional office building in Washington.

Ryan Shucard, the press secretary for Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, pleaded guilty in D.C. Superior Court to possession of an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition. A judge sentenced Shucard to 30 days in jail but suspended the sentence on the condition he successfully complete six months of unsupervised probation.

Shucard, 26, was placed on unpaid leave after police discovered a handgun and magazine in his bag July 18 during a security screening when he attempted to enter the Cannon House Office Building, where Marino has his office. Shucard said he took the 9 mm handgun with him while house-sitting in Alexandria, Virginia, where he also lives, and forgot he had it in his bag when he went to his job.

Unlike the District of Columbia, Virginia does not require residents to register handguns, and the weapon, which was given to him by his grandfather, was lawfully owned in Virginia, said Shucard's attorney Jason Kalafat.

Asked by the judge what would happen with his job, Shucard said he didn't know and that he was currently doing odd jobs to support himself.

"Sounds like a pretty steep price for a mistake," said Judge Milton Lee, who told Shucard that he has to be "more careful."

Shucard, whose father is a former police officer, said after the hearing that he was robbed in Washington earlier this year, which had set him on edge, so he took the gun for his protection while house-sitting. He said he was "deeply apologetic" about the incident and that he would love to be able to return to his job.

Bill Tighe, Marino's chief of staff, said the congressman will make a determination about Shucard's job by the end of the week. Marino represents northeastern Pennsylvania.


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