A 70-year-old Plano man was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for possession of a firearm while unlawfully in possession of a controlled substance. According to court reports, Alfred Pick threatened to shoot local hospital staffers “in their kneecaps and elbows first and let them bleed” last year.
Ryne Sandel, criminal defense attorney of the Whalen Law Office, helped reduce Pick’s proposed sentence from 10 years to seven by focusing on his years of clean living and his military service rather than the picture the U.S. Attorney’s office painted of him.
“Mr. Pick is a 70-year-old man who has lived an incredibly interesting life,” Sandel said. “It’s unfortunate that this is the epilogue of that life.”
Pick pleaded guilty May 22 after agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) launched an investigation into Pick’s gun collection. According to Sandel, Pick’s wife died on Oct. 2, and when he went to the hospital to see her body, medical officials and family were worried about his mental health. Pick checked into a mental health facility, and while he was away, the ATF got a tip about Pick’s collection and raided his home.
After obtaining a search warrant, agents discovered two grams of cocaine and over 10 grams of marijuana in Pick’s home. Agents also found 14 firearms, including a fully automatic machine gun “with an obliterated serial number,” court reports stated.
Pick confirmed he owned the marijuana because it helped manage his wife’s pain, but Pick couldn’t recall where the cocaine came from. According to Sandel, many people had access to Pick’s home. Over the years, Sandel said Pick grew his gun collection with gifts from his wife, purchases at gun shows or heirlooms passed down through his family, “and all of the ones he had had some sentimental value to it,” Sandel said. Pick said he bought the automatic machine gun from a gun show in 1980 while a cellmate of Pick’s said he admitted he stole it while he served in the military, according to court reports.
The U.S. Attorney’s officers presented Pick had a history of aggressive behavior and criminal trespassing at several local hospitals, involving both verbal and physical abuse of medical staff. Plano Police were also called for two prior incidents in 2014 where Pick allegedly brandished a handgun and made threats in a restaurant parking lot.
Sandel countered none of the incidents resulted in official police reports and Pick was a protective caretaker for his wife through her treatment for adult-onset of ALD or adrenoleukodystrophy.
“Al was very passionate about and very loving for his wife. He cared very deeply or her, and he’s the type of person if he feels she wasn’t getting the type of care he thought she deserved, he can be an intimidating individual,” Sandal said.
During sentencing, Pick’s daughter reported her father sexually abused her from ages 4 to 17 and allegedly charted “her growth” through taking naked pictures of her. According to court documents, Pick also threatened to blow up the plane of the federal magistrate judge and ATF agents who investigated his case and he referenced the Las Vegas shooter and how he would have taught him “a thing or two."
“Obviously, there was a lot more to the sentence that was received – a sentence that Mr. Pick and his lawyer agreed to – than a single gun with a missing serial number,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown. “Although Mr. Pick was a decorated veteran, he would use that status routinely to try to excuse his repeated criminal behavior. This was also not a mental health issue. It became a public safety issue.”
Pick was originally charged with two other violations – possession of an unregistered firearm and possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number - but by pleading guilty, those charges were dismissed.
“Given the type of case that I was given, the type of information that we had to overcome to get the seven years, I do feel it was a success. I think it was shame because this is the end of the story for Al, but I certainly think had we not been there and fought as hard as we did, that 10 years was a real possibility,” Sandel said.
Sandel said Pick has no chance for parole or probation. There’s a chance his sentence could be reduced, and he spend the end of his sentence at a halfway house. There’s also a chance he could serve less time for good behavior.