Theft Probe Leads to N.Va. Storage Site
Friday, January 5, 2007
An investigative trail littered with gold-colored AK-47s, documents labeled "CLASSIFIED" and pistols purported to have been given as gifts to Saddam Hussein led federal investigators here: a Manassas storage center.
Atlantic Self Storage, nestled between Interstate 66 and Route 234, sits across from a Super 8 Motel and is little more than rows of rust-colored garage doors leading to individual units. But according to court documents filed recently in Prince William County, one of the storage units may hold clues for a federal investigation spanning the country.
In a 10-page affidavit for a search warrant, a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service details how about 100 U.S. government and Iraqi weapons, along with secret documents, may have been stolen and ended up in storage units in California and Manassas.
A Marine gunnery sergeant who once lived in Fairfax County and rented storage units in both locations was placed in pretrial confinement at Camp Pendleton because, the agent wrote, "reasonable grounds exist that he poses a serious threat to the national security of the Unites States."
The gunnery sergeant, Gary Maziarz, is charged with larceny of computer and camera equipment, larceny of weaponry and possession of steroids, according to officials at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego. He is scheduled for an Article 32 investigation, similar to arraignment, Jan. 17.
Maziarz's attorney, David Brahms, said that his client maintains his innocence and that the affidavit should be seen for what it is: "What it is, is an attempt by law enforcement to convince a judicial official that there is sufficient evidence for a search, but it is not evidence of guilt."
NCIS officials said they could not talk about the case because the investigation remains open.
Maziarz had worked in an intelligence center in Fallujah, Iraq, from February to May 2006, according to the documents. He was also assigned to a program administered by the National Security Agency and had access to information classified as the " 'Top Secret' level and higher," the papers said.
NSA officials did not respond to a request for comment.
This is what is known from the affidavit, filed in Prince William Circuit Court:
On Oct. 27, a colonel at Camp Pendleton reported as missing a large quantity of U.S. Government trophy weapons acquired during the conflict in Iraq.
An internal investigation cast suspicion on Maziarz, and he consented to a search of a storage facility he rented in Carlsbad, Calif., according to the documents.