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Weapons case: Indian American couple face new charges

August 08, 2009 13:16 IST
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An Indian American doctor, who is accused of illegally possessing high-explosive grenades, and his wife face new charges of interfering with the probe into their extensive weapons cache. The new seven-count indictment accuses 51-year-old Dr Randeep Mann and his wife Sangeeta of seeking to obstruct the probe by hiding from federal agents signed, blank cheques.

It also alleged that 48-year-old Sangeeta concealed evidence and made a false declaration to a federal grand jury about removing the cheques from her husband's office on his orders, the Arkansas News said on Saturday.

According to a statement released by the US attorney's office in Little Rock, agents on Friday arrested Sangeeta, who pleaded not guilty to the charges later in the day at a hearing before US Magistrate J Thomas Ray.

Sangeeta, who was arrested on Friday, will remain in custody until a detention hearing Monday in federal court, the report said. In the indictment, federal prosecutors accused Mann with illegally possessing an automatic machine gun without official paperwork on the weapon.

Mann also faces two new charges accusing him of owning an unregistered 12-gauge shotgun and an unregistered 7.62-mm machine gun.

According to prosecutors, Sangeeta told the grand jury probing her husband that she removed the cheques from his Russellville office because she 'thought it would be safer'. "The cheques had not been removed from the clinic because she had been instructed by Randeep Mann to remove the items," according to the indictment.

Dr Mann, who had a medical practice in Russellville, has pleaded not guilty to earlier charges. The Arkansas doctor has been in custody since his March 4 arrest, on the charge of possessing unregistered machine guns and explosives, only permitted for the military.

He is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges on August 18. Dr Mann's arrest followed a raid on his home after a public works employee found a cache of unregistered, high-explosive grenades in a nearby wooded area.

Federal agents suspected Dr Mann, who had shown investigators a grenade launcher a month earlier when they questioned him about an explosion that critically injured Dr Trent Pierce, the chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board. ATF agents had earlier found about $1 million worth of machine guns from Mann's house when they raided his home, the report said.

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