Former Ohio National Guard soldier sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison for illegally making, selling firearms
Stars and Stripes March 2, 2023
A former Ohio National Guard soldier, who had posted online about killing people at Jewish synagogues and a military base, was sentenced to nearly six years in prison for making and selling untraceable homemade weapons known as “ghost guns,” according to the Justice Department.
Columbus resident Thomas Develin, 25, pleaded guilty in October to one count of making a firearm, one count of unlawfully manufacturing and dealing machine guns and one count of manufacturing and dealing firearms without a license. He was sentenced Tuesday in a federal courtroom in Ohio, according to online court records.
Develin used a 3D printer to make ghost guns beginning in 2020 with the intent to sell them for profit, according to court documents. He also made accessories that convert weapons to shoot more than one shot automatically without manual reloading.
Develin posted messages about his gun-making in an online chat group made up of Guard members, and the Ohio National Guard reported Develin’s messages to the Columbus Police Department’s Counter Terrorism Unit, according to court documents. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives then became involved in the investigation.
Federal agents searched Develin’s home and vehicle in March 2022 and discovered more than 25 firearms, according to the Justice Department. In the months prior to that search, he had posted photos, videos and messages online about manufacturing illegal firearm accessories with a 3D printer. Using the name Patrick Bateman, the protagonist in the novel “American Psycho,” Develin also posted “a large quantity” of hateful messages toward Jewish people and women that the Justice Department described as white nationalist, racist, antisemitic and misogynistic.
When he was arrested later that month, agents found night-vision goggles, ballistic plates and a helmet, first-aid equipment and a large supply of ammunition.
At the time that he committed the crimes, he was in the Ohio National Guard, according to the Justice Department. Develin was discharged in August 2022 at the rank of specialist, according to Guard officials.
Develin was also employed at the time by a private security company and was tasked with providing armed security to Jewish facilities in the Columbus area. During his work, he would post hateful messages that threatened violence toward Jewish people, according to court documents.
In December 2021, he posted about conducting a mass shooting at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which is about an hour drive from Columbus.
Develin enlisted as an air defense battle management system operator in the National Guard in October 2014, according to a five-page letter that he wrote to the court during his sentencing. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2017, according to the letter.
Develin also wrote he began to drink heavily after returning home, which he believes was a result of depression and disillusionment with the military. He then found respite in online discussions among veterans that included war as therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, instructions on 3D printing weapons and hateful rhetoric.
“At no time did I ever intend on performing these disgusting ideas or sharing these thoughts with anyone other than the members of our private group,” he wrote. “I never intended to put fear into the community. Now that our discussions have been made public, I realize the shock, fright, and pain it has caused others.”