Berlin Man Sentenced to More Than Eight Years in Prison for Amassing Arsenal of Illegal Weapons

David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ALAN D. ZALESKI, 49, of Berlin, Connecticut, was sentenced today by Senior United States District Judge Ellen Bree Burns in New Haven to 101 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for illegally possessing machine guns and numerous other unregistered weapons, including a sawed-off shotgun, silencers, grenades, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). On March 27, 2009, a jury found ZALESKI guilty of 28 counts related to the illegal possession of those firearms.

“This defendant possessed an arsenal of illegal weapons, the size and scope of which Connecticut law enforcement has rarely, if ever, encountered,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “I want to commend the FBI, ATF, Connecticut State Police, and the police departments that investigated this matter, as well as an alert citizen who first notified law enforcement authorities to this potentially dangerous situation.”

According to the evidence provided at trial, in 2005, a tree cutter contracted by a local utility company went to ZALESKI’s heavily-wooded property in Berlin to cut back some trees from power lines and inadvertently tripped over one of several tripwires set up on the property, triggering a percussion explosive that detonated and caused him permanent hearing loss in one ear. When the utility worker returned to the property in August 2006 and noticed the tripwires again, he contacted the police.

Law enforcement officers responded and spent the next three days systematically searching ZALESKI’s property, rendering many hazards safe, and seizing numerous weapons. During the course of the search, officers seized dozens of fully automatic machine guns and semi-automatic firearms, multiple rifles and handguns, as well as silencers, fragmentation grenades, chemical grenades, smoke grenades, and various homemade pipe bombs and IEDs. ZALESKI also was found in possession of more than 67,000 rounds of live ammunition and numerous components for making additional grenades, IEDs, and bombs, including ammonium nitrate and nitro methane. Investigators also discovered that ZALESKI’s property was protected by several booby traps, including tripwires connected to percussion explosives and camouflaged plywood boards on the ground with nails sticking up through them.

ZALESKI also possessed dozens of how-to books on making bombs and IEDs, converting semi-automatic weapons to fully automatic weapons, and making homemade silencers.

Law enforcement worked over a three-day period in August 2006 to seize more than 600 separate items of evidentiary value from ZALESKI’s residence, one of the largest seizures of illegal weapons and other paraphernalia in state history.

ZALESKI has been detained since March 27, 2009.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Connecticut State Police Bomb Squad, Emergency Services Unit, and Major Crime Squad; and the Berlin, New Britain and New Haven Police Departments.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Paul Murphy and Stephen Reynolds.