Aaron Reynolds ’19, a former Cornell University student, pled guilty in December to purchasing a firearm illegally for classmate Maximilien R. Reynolds ’19 — an ex-Cornell student who served a two-year sentence for stockpiling unregistered weapons.
Aaron’s plea agreement comes two years after Maximilien’s arrest, when Ithaca police and FBI agents stormed Maximilien’s Dryden Road apartment in 2017, uncovering a trove of weapons, including an AR-15 rifle, a homemade bomb, a bulletproof vest and 300 rounds of ammunition, The Sun previously reported.
It was an Ithaca Wal-Mart employee who tipped off the police to Maximilien’s purchases of ammunition, knives and other concerning items, court documents revealed.
The motive for the stockpile remains unclear, with Maximilien’s defense lawyer, Raymond Schlather J.D. ’76, claiming that the purchase was not intended for violent purposes, but rather emerged as a consequence of paranoia and mental illness.
“I think the material that was provided to the court consistently made clear that there was no plan, there was no manifesto, there was no target, there were no threats,” said Schlather in a 2019 interview with The Sun.
Aaron — who is not related to Maximilien — bought the weapon, a Savage Arms MSR-15 Patrol rifle on Nov. 27, 2017, from a licensed Tompkins County gun vendor. On the purchase forms, he “falsely certified he was the actual purchaser of the [rifle],” according to court records.
Maximilien, who had been unable to purchase a weapon due to a 2016 arrest and involuntary commitment, gave Aaron $1,000 for the gun and a $200 reward.
Federal prosecutors charged Aaron with “false statements during the acquisition of a firearm,” according to court documents. Such a violation can incur a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison, as well as a fine hitting $250,000.
As part of his plea agreement, Aaron admitted to one count of making a false statement in the firearm purchase forms, and waived his right to appeal. However, Aaron can still appeal any sentence longer than 21 months.
On the other side of the bargain, prosecutors “will not seek other federal criminal charges against the defendant,” according to a court filing. Aaron is scheduled for sentencing in April, according to Syracuse.com.
Correction: Maximilien Reynolds was released from prison in November.