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Federal weapons charges filed against auctioneers

Not all weapons crimes are violent crimes or involve a felon in possession of a firearm. Many weapons crimes are a matter of paperwork and disclosure. Recently, a federal grand jury indicted three individuals operating an auction business on charges of selling firearms without a license and conspiracy.

The three individuals facing federal weapons charges were members of the same family, and were employed at an auction house that conducts firearms, sporting goods and estate auctions. One of the indicted individuals died of congestive heart failure since the indictment.

According to court papers, the defendants purportedly conspired to increase their profits by forgoing the acquisition of a federal firearms license for their business. The individuals allegedly resold shotguns, rifles and other weapons without conducting background checks on the buyers or keeping proper records.

The indictment alleges that the conspiracy took place from October 2006 until November 2010. The defendants purportedly obtained the weapons in bulk from other auction houses and via newspaper advertising.

Court records indicate that special agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives led the undercover investigation that ultimately resulted in the charges. All three of the defendants were charged with a single count of conspiracy to engage in the business of selling firearms without a license, as well as three counts of selling firearms without a license.

One of the individuals is also being charged with a single count of giving a false statement related to the case. According to investigators, the man lied by saying that the firearms sold at a late October 2010 auction were obtained from his deceased father's estate, which, if true, would have exempted the individuals from federal licensing requirements.

Source: Muskegon Chronicle, "Federal gun-dealing charges filed against Muskegon County auctioneers," John S. Hausman, 2/28/2011

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