Costa Mesa man pleads guilty to weapons charges

A Costa Mesa man is facing a federal prison sentence for using a fake Arizona ID to buy guns in that state and then bring them back to California.

Christopher Mathwig, 38, pleaded guilty this week in an Arizona federal court to using false statements to buy 40 guns. He's scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 28 in Phoenix.

According to his Tustin-based attorney, Bill Elliott, Mathwig, an avid hunter, was trying to go around California's gun laws that require guns bought in one state be transported by one federally licensed gun dealer to another in California for pickup.

Guns are also cheaper in Arizona, Elliott said.

"He's 38 years old, a working guy, two kids, no criminal history," Elliott said. "I bet he has less tickets than you or I do."

Between 2005 and 2007, Mathwig bought about 40 guns, mostly handguns but also some rifles, and returned with them to California. He left guns prohibited in California with his friend, Shawn Nealon, in Arizona.

Nealon owns Cavalry Arms Corp., a federally licensed gun dealer in Gilbert. An investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives led to both men's arrests.

Nealon sold Mathwig most of the guns the investigators confiscated, knowing he was using a fake Arizona ID. Nealon was sentenced to 300 hours of community service, a $10,000 fine and three years' probation earlier this year.

Federal prosecutors are recommending an 18-month federal prison sentence for Mathwig, Elliott said.

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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