That find led to a search of his residence, and an even bigger cache, including a grenade launcher, more than a dozen other firearms, “numerous silencers,” an armored vest, drugs — and a box stuffed with neo-Nazi and white supremacist propaganda, the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey said Tuesday.
Rubino, 57, was charged with possession of firearms by a felon, possession with intent to distribute meth and possession of firearms while drug trafficking, the office said. The last charge alone is punishable by life in prison. It is not clear whether Rubino has an attorney.
The twist of fate — a discovery of guns from a vehicle crash leading like bread crumbs to a stockpile of illegally kept firearms — comes amid an apparently growing white supremacist threat that some former officials say is outpacing the FBI’s efforts to combat it. Authorities have said that white supremacist ideology fueled the El Paso attack this month, in which a gunman killed 22 people.
Rubino’s passenger, Kenneth Coe, was arrested in May after a traffic stop led police to discover that he was carrying firearms and a substance they suspected was crystal meth, local media reported. The New Jersey Herald said there were unconfirmed reports that Coe is in a coma after the July crash, though New Jersey State Police did not respond to a request for comment about his status.
Rubino’s felony record stems from a 1999 conviction for writing bad checks. He was sentenced to probation, the Herald reported.
Dylan Wiggins, a spokesperson for Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, declined to say if he was known to authorities before the wreck. It is unclear if he was readying for an attack.
But his suspected cache has a few notable weapons and accessories.
The grenade launcher, designed to attach to the underside of a rifle and modeled after the military’s M203 launcher, is used commonly for signal flares but must be registered with the ATF as a destructive device if used to shoot ammunition.
And two shotguns had sawed-off barrels. This gives the shotgun pellets a bigger distribution when fired, making the weapon deadlier at a closer range and easier to conceal.
Authorities said Rubino also had a host of neo-Nazi and racist paraphernalia, including shirts and bumper stickers with the “SS bolts” denoting the Schutzstaffel — the notorious Nazi paramilitary group. The symbol is “sometimes used by outlaw motorcycle gang members,” court documents said.
A racist manual purporting to offer instructions on how to own black slaves also was found, court documents show.