A man from Fayetteville, Arkansas who had been declared legally dead following his disappearance in 1980, has pleaded guilty in Springfield federal court to illegal possession of a machine gun and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Sixty-one year old Robert Thomas, also known as Christian Tadlock, reportedly staged his own death in 1982, a couple of years after he was reported missing in April of 1980. At that time, he was facing prison time in Illinois for delivery of LSD, and still has time to serve for that conviction.

Thomas had been scheduled for a federal jury trial Thursday in Springfield and entered the plea instead. He admitted he purchased a machine gun from an udnercover ATF agent in October of 2007 in Jasper county, Missouri.

He was arrested when he put the weapon in the bed of his pickup. A search of his home the next day turned up more than 30 machine guns, 44 hand grenades, four pipe bombs, two .50-caliber rifles, silencers, thousands of rounds of ammunition and scores of other weapons. Also found were templates for making homemade machine guns, as well as partially completed guns and gun parts.

Thomas faces a possible 20 year federal prison term without parole and a fine of more than a quarter of a million dollars.

Greg Brock reports [Download/listen MP3]