Prosecutors Dismiss Gun Charge Against Webb Aide

By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 27, 2007 5:48 PM

Prosecutors today dismissed the gun charge filed last month against an aide to Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) who was caught bringing a loaded pistol into the Russell Senate Office Building.

U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor said in a statement late today that his office had concluded that the essential elements of the charge -- carrying a pistol without a license -- could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Filed in D.C. Superior Court, the dismissal brings to an apparent end an embarrassing episode for Webb, a gun rights advocate, and the aide, Phillip Thompson, a former marine who serves as Webb's executive assistant.

Thompson was entering the Russell Building on March 26 when a gun and ammunition showed up during a routine X-ray of his bag. Capital police officers seized the firearm and arrested Thompson, who explained that he had been safeguarding the gun for Webb and that he had picked up the wrong bag on his way to Capitol Hill.

To prove the charge, prosecutors would have had to show that Thompson knew he had the gun.

Defense lawyer Richard Gardiner, who was representing Thompson, said he was told by the prosecutor on the case that a video recording of the incident had been reviewed and that statements had been taken from all of the officers present when the gun was discovered.

"There was apparently complete unanimity that Mr. Thompson was totally stunned and clearly did not know that the gun was in there," Gardiner said.

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