Crime - Sacto 911

Federal judge keeps weapons suspect in custody

A Sacramento judge refused Wednesday to free James Christopher Malcolm pending trial because of her concern over his alleged penchant for modifying firearms and making explosives.

Assistant Federal Defender David Porter argued that Malcolm “has strong ties to the community and has operated his own business for eight years. He needs to get out of jail to make financial arrangements for his family, including two children.”

U.S. Magistrate Judge Allison Claire acknowledged that Malcolm has a family and “ties to the community, which makes the flight-risk question closer.”

What bothers her, Claire said, is the cache of weapons Malcolm had in his possession and how that plays into her duty to protect the community.

“The damage prong is much stronger than flight risk,” she said.

Agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested Malcolm late Sunday in Carmichael after he discovered an electronic tracking device they had secured to the underside of his vehicle.

During the two months leading up to the arrest, ATF agents had conducted an undercover operation aimed at Malcolm, during which they purchased illegally modified firearms and explosive materials from him and told him the items would be used in criminal activity, according to an agent’s affidavit filed in Sacramento federal court.

Malcolm, 29, is charged with unlawful dealing in firearms, unlawful possession and transfer of a machine gun, transferring explosive materials for use in a crime and unlawful manufacturing of a firearm.

Agents have searched Malcolm’s Carmichael home in the 3200 block of Garfield Avenue, and two self-storage units he rented, one in the 4200 block of Industry Drive in Sacramento County, and the other in the 6200 block of Fair Oaks Blvd. in Carmichael.

It is not yet known publicly what, if any, evidence the searches yielded.

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