The late Fox News chief Roger Ailes was arrested for criminal possession of a weapon in the ’70s, according to FBI records released publicly on Friday.
An FBI background check from 1990 unearthed the decades-prior arrest, which happened on November 10, 1974 in New York. Ailes was originally charged with felony criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, specifically citing a subsection on firearm silencers, bombs, and machine-gun-emulating weapons.
That charge was later downgraded after Ailes agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for which he received no jail time and was allowed to go free provided he didn’t violate the law within an unspecified period of time.
Gizmodo previously reported on the arrest documentation within the FBI files they’d obtained last week via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Little other details are known about the incident, but Gabriel Sherman gave it a brief mention in his 2014 Ailes biography The Loudest Voice in the Room. According to Sherman, the arrest occurred when Ailes returned from a trip to Africa with Robert Kennedy Jr.
“When news of the arrest surfaced years later,” Sherman wrote, “colleagues of Ailes claimed that he had been using the weapon to protect a Kennedy. It felt like an excuse to Bobby Jr. ‘If I had known he was actually carrying a gun to protect me, I would have told him to get rid of it. It wasn’t plausible,’ he recalled.”
Throughout his career as a Republican operative and later the head of a right-wing cable outlet, Ailes was known to be incredibly paranoid about his own personal safety, at times reportedly claiming he was bugged and having bulletproof windows installed outside his Fox News office.
Ailes and like-minded souls Sean Hannity and Donald Trump were among the New York City residents revealed to have a permit to possess a handgun in the city—a rare authorization reserved for individuals who have received a substantial amount of threats.