A Salyersville man was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years in prison for trying to arrange the murder of a man who owed him money.
The stiffest portion of Robert Barnett's sentence stemmed from a charge for having a machine gun. U.S. Senior Judge Karl S. Forester ordered a mandatory penalty of 30 years on that charge. The judge sentenced Barnett to 10 years for a bevy of other charges that could have resulted in up to 27 years. The sentences will run consecutively.
Before sentencing Wednesday in federal court in Lexington, defense attorney Brent Caldwell asked Forester for leniency, in part because Barnett, 71, probably would spend the rest of his life in prison. Prosecutors did not object to that request.
Forester said he could not understand how Barnett got into this situation, because Barnett is married with a wonderful family. "I can't fathom that," Forester said.
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Barnett was convicted of hiring an undercover agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to kill a man in Huntington, W.Va.
Prosecutors say Barnett gave the agent $5,000 as a down payment and promised $4,000 after the slaying. He also gave the agent a machine gun, a pistol, two illegal silencers and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
After a four-day trial in June, Barnett was found guilty of witness tampering, using a telephone to facilitate murder for hire, causing another to travel in interstate commerce to facilitate a murder for hire, transferring firearms to commit a violent crime, using and carrying firearms in a violent crime, unlawfully possessing a machine gun, possessing a machine gun with an obliterated serial number and two counts of possessing unregistered silencers.
The jury found Barnett not guilty of four counts of soliciting other prison inmates to commit murder.
Before sentencing Barnett on Wednesday, Forester asked Barnett if he had anything he would like to say.
Barnett only said: "Make it as easy as possible"
Forester told Caldwell he would recommend that Barnett be sent to a facility as close to his family in Salyersville as possible.
Relatives were in the courtroom but declined comment afterward.
Caldwell said he did not know whether Barnett would appeal.