Two Iowa men each received two-year prison sentences Thursday after pleading guilty to charges that they brought an AR-15 rifle, a shotgun, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition to the Pokemon World Championship at the Hynes Convention Center last summer.
James Stumbo, 28, and Kevin Norton, 19, were both charged with unlawful possession of the guns and ammunition. As part of a plea agreement, Stumbo pleaded guilty only to possession of the rifle, and Norton only to possession of the shotgun. Both pleaded guilty to possessing about 300 rounds of ammunition. The men, who have already been jailed for nearly a year, will also have to serve two years of probation.
On Aug. 20, 2015, Stumbo and Norton arrived in Boston from Iowa to attend the Pokemon convention. The day before, Stumbo had posted a photo of Norton’s 2002 Chevrolet Prizm with the firearms in the trunk on Facebook, with a note declaring that “Kevin Norton and I are ready for worlds Boston here we come!!!”
Also, Stumbo and Norton had online conversations with other Pokemon players, many of which were threatening in nature, said Assistant District Attorney Brian Brodigan. “My AR-15 says that you lose,” Stumbo wrote in one message.
Stumbo and Norton remained impassive throughout the proceedings and were barely audible as they answered Suffolk Superior Court Judge Rosalind Miller’s questions. Neither has a prior criminal record. Both have “firm roots” in Iowa, Miller said, and may petition to serve their probation there.
Norton’s attorney, Robert LeRoy, said after the sentencing that the episode was an “error in judgment” resulting from the defendants’ failure to properly research Massachusetts gun laws, which, he said, are far more restrictive than those in Iowa.
“They basically always drive around with loaded guns in the trunk in Iowa,” he said.
The photos of the guns and the car were a proclamation that Stumbo and Norton were going to be successful at the convention, not a threat to use the firearms, LeRoy said. And the supposedly threatening conversations with the other Pokemon players, which included some name-calling, were the result of a minor feud at a previous competition.
“It was pretty adolescent stuff, but it wasn’t threatening in any capacity,” he said.
Vivian Wang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.