Dealer sentenced in fraud case


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joab
January 13, 2006, 09:43 PM
this discussion was started here awhile back
http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/news/13604770.htm
Gun dealer sentenced for fraud
Michael Zomber got 21/2 years for bilking a weapons collector. The judge said he lacked "respect for the law."
By John Shiffman
Inquirer Staff Writer

A once-distinguished antique-firearms dealer who duped a Bucks County millionaire while helping him amass a $30 million gun collection was sentenced to 21/2 years in prison yesterday.

The case, which included the sale of a pair of revolvers carried into battle by famed Texas Ranger Samuel Walker, was widely followed in the unregulated antique-firearms industry, where the dealers' crimes became a major scandal.

U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe said that she hoped the prison sentence for the dealer, Michael Zomber of Franklin, Tenn., would deter others who might try to defraud antiques collectors.

"What is seriously missing here is respect for the law," Rufe said. "It's not about money or lack of money; it's about treating each other legally and fairly."

Zomber was convicted of fraud at trial. His accomplice, Richard Ellis, of LeClaire, Iowa, pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government. Rufe sentenced Ellis to 10 months, half of which must be spent in prison; the other half may be spent in a halfway house, she said. Restitution will be calculated later.

"The entire industry was poised to find out what happened to Ellis and Zomber," said FBI agent Bob Wittman, who handled the case. "There's an element that's going to be happy that it's a new day, and there's an element that's going to be upset that their antics are going to be put under the microscope."

The Bucks County businessman who was duped, Joseph A. Murphy of New Hope, said in a related suit that the men defrauded him of $12 million. That suit was settled for $4.7 million worth of antique firearms.

Ellis, hired by Murphy as his expert consultant on a commission basis, led Murphy to believe that Zomber was a disinterested dealer.

He was not. Zomber wrote letters feigning interest in the pieces Murphy sought, artificially inflating the firearms' values. In turn, authorities said, Ellis paid Zomber more than $1 million in kickbacks.

The largest deal involved two firearms Walker designed with Samuel Colt in 1846 - the world's first Magnum revolvers, .44-caliber handguns that launched Colt from bankruptcy to fame, according to Philip Schreier, a curator at the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va.

Murphy paid about $2.2 million for the so-called Walker Colts, about twice what authorities said they are worth.

Before Zomber was sentenced yesterday, he asked for leniency, saying that what happened has consumed him to the point that he has not slept for three years without the aid of pills. He also cited his extensive charitable work on behalf of children with cancer.

"I am extraordinarily sorry and remorseful that my actions have caused pain," Zomber said. "I am disgraced forever."

Murphy also addressed the court. His voice thundering at times, he said he was angry that Zomber had argued that charitable work and medical stresses were relevant at sentencing.

"I'm the laughingstock," Murphy said, explaining that the scandal is the talk of the antique-gun circuit. "I'm the one who had two heart attacks over this, stents put in... . As a victim, I'm pleading with you to sentence him in the most horrible way you can, because he did this without regret. I want punishment."

Afterward, Murphy's attorney, Gavin Lenz, said he was satisfied with both sentences.

Zomber plans to appeal, and Rufe said she is considering whether to allow him to remain free until that appeal is heard.

Rufe chastised both men for continuing to attend gun shows following their convictions. Her sentence forbids the dealers from possessing any firearms, including antiques, for three years after the jail terms.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Goldman said that Ellis deserved a lighter sentence because he cooperated with the investigation and pleaded guilty. Still, Goldman said, he deserved to go to prison.

Ellis wept through much of his statement to the judge: "I'm very sorry for what I did. It was wrong and I regret it. In my business, my good name meant everything. I blew it."

Ellis then turned around to face his victim, who sat in the gallery.

"Joe, I'm truly sorry," Ellis said. "I really am."

Murphy nodded.

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atomchaser
January 13, 2006, 10:52 PM
Some folks just have too much money.......

joab
January 13, 2006, 11:01 PM
Some folks just have too much money.And cheating them out of it is still a crime

Gifted
January 14, 2006, 01:18 AM
the world's first Magnum revolvers, .44-caliber handguns that launched Colt from bankruptcy to fame,Say what? I don't recall if the first ones were .44 or .45, but I'm pretty sure magnum didn't come along until at least the 20th century.

Kim
January 14, 2006, 01:36 AM
I have a fried here in Arkansas who just happend to mention to me she was selling her handgun as she needed the money and was going to get one that was cheaper. Then she said she was losing money on the deal as she of coarse would not get back any of the 100.00 the dealer charged her to register her handgun. I said WHAT????????????? There is not such thing as registering a handgun or any gun in Arkansas. She got ripped off because they saw a woman who obviously did not know the law. I wonder what she should do. I explained it to her and she said Oh Well my ignorance. I am mad that a dealer is taking advantage of a customer this way. I wonder how long he will get away with it. Maybe since I am female I can go in and act stupid and blonde and see if he will try to pull that crap on me.

joab
January 14, 2006, 02:45 AM
Around here I would report it to FDLE, I'm sure you have a similar agency.
If they can't do anything they know who can.
I think a sting is in order

joab
January 14, 2006, 02:48 AM
but I'm pretty sure magnum didn't come along until at least the 20th century.Walkers are commonly referred to as the first magnum as a way of noting the power of the gun, it's just a figure of speech.

Magnum is a made up marketing term anyway.
It was used as a way to note the increased power of the .357 compared to the .38 special

ArmedBear
January 14, 2006, 03:01 AM
Magnums by that name did not come along until the 20th Century. However, as joab says, the Walkers are called the "first magnums" for good reason.

It was not until the first cartridges called "magnum" were introduced in the 1930s that a revolver could match or exceed the power of the 1847 Walker. Seen one? It's a cannon! The two primary guns Clint Eastwood uses in The Outlaw Josey Wales are '47 Walkers. They make his other guns look like derringers.

Burt Blade
January 14, 2006, 10:32 AM
The six-shot Colt Walker revolver fires a .44 caliber round ball from a 9 inch barrel, driven by up to 60 grains of black powder. That is a light rifle load. The gun weighs about 5 pounds.

I have not had the opportunity to chronograph one myself, but I have heard credible reports of 1400+ fps velocity from replicas of this hand cannon. A ~148 grain roundball at 1400 fps would fit in the "magnum" category by today's standards. The Walker had a well-earned reputation of being a decisive fight stopper. A cavalryman of the day armed with a pair of these was a Horseman of the Apocalypse.

Walkers are a bit large to carry in belt holsters, especially for the smaller statured average man of the mid 19th century. Pommel holsters hanging from the saddle were typically used for Walkers. They were undeniably the "big iron" of the cap and ball era. Originals in shooting condition are extremely rare (only 1100 were made), and the one I had a chance to handle (with a complete cased set of accessories) was priced at $50,000 in 1986. The good news is that they are back in production. Thanks to the gun craftsman of Italy, and the popularity of the American Cowboy, these wonderful pieces of history can be had for a few hundred dollars.

Cellar Dweller
January 16, 2006, 08:16 AM
Shill bidding is fraud, yet if Mr. Murphy posted on THR that he bought the Walkers from a pawn shop for $50 each, everbody'd be saying "wow, deal of the century! Way to go, dude!" Nobody would advocate going back to give the dealer fair value...

Zomber and Ellis didn't HOLD a loaded Walker to Murphy's head when he was writing the check, right? :p

Murphy paid about $2.2 million for the so-called Walker Colts, about twice what authorities said they are worth.
Apparently they were worth $2.2 million to Murphy. "A fool and his money are soon parted." Indeed.

Jeff Timm
January 16, 2006, 10:21 AM
The last time I saw a ballistics report on a Walker repro, it had less power than a 246 grain .44 special. I don't remember the source, but I was disappointed based on the reputation of the first "Monster Pistol"

Geoff
Who likes the boom and cloud, but hates the cleaning.

joab
January 16, 2006, 11:06 AM
Zomber and Ellis didn't HOLD a loaded Walker to Murphy's head when he was writing the check, right?No one put a gun the Zomber and Ellis' heads to force them to defraud Murphy.
If gunplay was involved there would have been more than 2 1/2 years given

joab
January 16, 2006, 11:11 AM
if Mr. Murphy posted on THR that he bought the Walkers from a pawn shop for $50 each, everbody'd be saying "wow, deal of the century!Of course we would he would have honorably entered into a deal according to the condition set by both parties.
The pawn broker has the duty as a retailer to research his product and determine the correct price.
The expert hired to research and determine the correct price has the duty to do so to the best of his ability.

If it could be proven that Zomber just made a stupid mistake jail time would not be warranted

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