A former U.S. Marine has pleaded not guilty in Las Vegas to a federal impersonation charge alleging he wore ballistic gear, carried a military-style rifle and stood amid ranks of police officers during a racial justice protest in May.
Zachary Sanns was identified in a Las Vegas Review-Journal photo with a distinctive tattoo on his upper left arm showing the numbers 0351 and the letters SS in a lightning-bolt style that prosecutors said could leave the impression he was a Marine sniper and “affiliated with Nazi or racist groups and ideology,” according to a criminal complaint filed against him.
Sanns’ defense attorney, David T. Brown, declined Monday to comment about Sanns’ court appearance Friday. A federal magistrate judge scheduled trial on Nov. 30.
Sanns, 28, of Beachwood, New Jersey, remained jailed in Las Vegas following his arrest in June and indictment last week.
He could face three years in prison and a $250,000 fine if he is convicted, U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich said.
Sanns’ wife is a Las Vegas police officer who was deployed for crowd-control during a May 30 demonstration that followed the police killing days earlier of George Floyd in Minneapolis, according to court documents.
Sanns allegedly followed police vehicles to the downtown protest in his black Chevrolet SUV with blue lights flashing in the grille. Wearing plain clothes, he donned a ballistic helmet with night-vision goggles, a bandana-style facial covering and a tactical vest with the words “federal agent” on the back, prosecutors said.
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He had a pistol with an extended magazine and a stun gun on his belt and he carried an AR-15 style rifle with an optic magnifier, according to court documents.
Sanns told police he was a Homeland Security Investigations agent, a U.S. State Department and a Department of Defense contractor and works with the CIA, prosecutors said.
A federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent said in court documents that Sanns served from 2011 to 2016 in the Marine Corps and was employed for three weeks in December 2019 as a contractor for the U.S. Navy.
The agent said Sanns is not now an active federal law enforcement employee or contractor.