News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, January 5, 2010
AUGUSTA, Ga.---The man accused of stealing from Fort Gordon has had a change of heart. First, Anthony Saxon said he didn't do it. Today he sang a new tune in an Augusta courtroom.
Anthony Saxon of Keysville was arrested in June after allegedly going onto Fort Gordon and stealing military equipment.
Investigators say he was dressed as a master sergeant and carrying a camo bag with flash bang grenades, maps of Fort Gordon, a laser targeting device, a live land mine and night vision equipment.
His family had been under the impression Saxon worked as a contractor at Fort Gordon and was training to deploy overseas. Neither were true.
Just a few months back, Saxon pleaded not guilty to seven federal charges. But today in court he changed his mind, and under the advice of his counsel pleaded guilty to three of the charges.
Cameras are not allowed in federal court, but News 12 witnessed Saxon brought in, shackled and cuffed. His wife sobbed on and off throughout the hearing.
Saxon admitted his guilt to impersonating a soldier, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and possession of an unregistered silencer. He faces 23 years in prison in the deal. Had he pleaded not guilty, he could have faced 60 years on all seven counts.
In 1996 Saxon was convicted of grand theft auto in Florida. The 34-year-old father told the court he was on pain medication and muscle relaxers for lower back pain after an car accident years ago. At some points in the hearing, he could no longer stand because of the pain. A psychological exam showed Saxon also should be on anti-depressants, but those narcotics are not given to inmates.
When they searched Saxon's Keysville home in June, FBI agents found four guns and ammo hidden in the backyard. Both an FBI agent and an ATF agent were called to the stand today to talk about the explosives and weapons that were found.
The former National Guardsman had worked over the years as a computer systems analyst and a bench jeweler.
Judge Dudley Bowen said in his opinion, Mr. Saxon is lucid and competent now, and was when he was caught on base in June.
"He had a great love for the military and a great love for this country. He's a good father and a good husband. He acknowledges what he did was wrong, and that's what he stood up in there and basically said," says Saxon's defense attorney Danny Durham. "Life's full of second chances, and Todd Saxon definitely deserves a second chance, and he can go on and become a good father and good husband, and he can be a good citizen."
It also came out in court that early last year Saxon was the prime suspect in a theft at a local gun shop in town. The owner says a silencer went missing shortly after Saxon was shopping at the store.
The owner tells News 12 he spoke extensively with Saxon on multiple occasions and says he was an intelligent man who knew a lot about guns and the military. That charge was one of the four dropped against Saxon in this plea deal.
Sentencing is expected in a few weeks.