Men indicted in machine-gun sales


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Waitone
February 7, 2004, 01:21 PM
Poster's Comment--I'll keep followng this story.

Men indicted in machine-gun sales

Charlotte Observer

Posted on Fri, Feb. 06, 2004

Men indicted in machine-gun sales
Charges include illegal importing, conspiracy
EMILY S. ACHENBAUM AND GARY L. WRIGHT
Staff Writers

MONROE - Two brothers operating a Monroe gun dealership have been charged with illegally importing Russian and Soviet machine guns and selling more than 3,500 of them across the United States.

Oliver Wiegand, 37, and Ulrich Wiegand, 34, both of Indian Trail, "reaped a substantial financial profit" from the sales and used the money to "support their extravagant personal lifestyles," said a federal grand jury indictment unsealed Thursday. Federal authorities identified the brothers as German nationals.

The Wiegands were charged Tuesday in an 83-count indictment accusing each of conspiracy, illegal importation of machine guns, illegal possession and transfer of machine guns, and money laundering.

Ulrich Wiegand appeared before a federal magistrate in Charlotte Thursday and was in custody at the Mecklenburg jail. Authorities said Oliver Wiegand is believed to be out of the country.

"The illegal importation, possession, and transfer of fully automatic machine guns pose a serious risk to law enforcement and other citizens," said U.S. Attorney Bob Conrad.

Charlotte attorney Chris Fialko, who represents Oliver Wiegand, said: "My client and his company have tried their best to comply with vague ATF guidelines. He denies any wrongdoing."

Ulrich Wiegand's attorney could not be reached for comment.

The charges involve the Wiegands' federally licensed firearms business, Inter Ordnance of America, located in Monroe, and businesses in Witten, Germany, and Ferlach, Austria.

Using their German and Austrian businesses to illegally import the guns, the brothers sold them in parts kits across the country, prosecutors said. More than 3,500 were sold in the United States without background checks or recording ownership registration, prosecutors said.

Sales were done over the Internet and by mail, the indictment said. It said the firearms were sold to customers in South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Arkansas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois.

The indictment alleges the brothers concealed the illegal sales of machine guns by referring to them as "parts kits." That allowed them, the indictment said, to evade tax payments, record-keeping requirements and required background checks of potential customers.

Defense attorney Fialko, however, said "the trade groups representing importers of destroyed gun parts kits for gun collectors have been for years asking for clearer guidelines as to how these guns should be cut up properly. It appears the ATF has decided to legislate by indictment, instead of issuing proper regulations. This will be a contest of expert witnesses at trial."

Ulrich Wiegand is also accused of directing Inter Ordnance employees to structure cash deposits into the company's SouthTrust Bank and American Community Bank checking accounts -- as well as other accounts -- in amounts less than $10,000 to avoid reporting requirements.

The brothers used Inter Ordnance bank accounts to transfer funds to various international accounts to conceal and disguise the company's profits, the indictment said. Charges against each brother carry maximum penalties totaling 960 years in prison.

Inter Ordnance's Web site tells customers it is a wholesale distributor.

The Web site offers items for sale including a Belgian gas mask and reproductions of German World War II boots, size 8 only. It also features a link to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Web site.

The ATF, U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Internal Revenue Service collaborated on a two-year investigation of the brothers.

-- STAFF RESEARCHER SARA KLEMMER CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE.


Posted on Sat, Feb. 07, 2004

Charlotte Observer

Bail opposed in case of mail-order weapons
9,500 machine guns seized, according to jury indictment
EMILY S. ACHENBAUM AND GARY L. WRIGHT
Staff Writers

MONROE - Prosecutors hope to persuade a federal magistrate to hold a Union County man without bond pending his trial on charges of importing and selling thousands of Russian and Soviet machine guns.

A detention hearing for Ulrich Wiegand, 34, charged in an 83-count indictment unsealed Thursday, is set for Tuesday.

His brother, Oliver Wiegand, 37, facing the same charges, remains out of the country but is scheduled to make his first appearance in federal court on Tuesday.

Federal authorities seized more than 9,500 machine guns in a search of the Wiegand brothers' federally licensed Monroe gun dealership, Inter Ordnance of America, the indictment said. More than 3,500 other machine guns have been sold nationwide, the indictment said.

Prosecutors say that the Wiegands, using their businesses in Witten, Germany, and Ferlach, Austria, illegally imported the guns, selling them in parts kits without background checks or recording ownership registration, prosecutors said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Brown said at least two customers who purchased the machine guns have been charged with illegal possession of the firearms.

The investigation is continuing, Brown said, and agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are trying to recover the weapons that were sold.

"We're trying to find out where these guns are," Brown said. "Our primary objective is to recover these machine guns and get them off the streets.

"We're not interested in prosecuting innocent purchasers. But if we find these guns being used in criminal activity we're going to prosecute."

Charlotte lawyer Chris Fialko, who represents Oliver Wiegand, has said his client denies wrongdoing and that Wiegand and Inter Ordnance have tried to comply with "vague" ATF guidelines.

Inter Ordnance got a license from the city of Monroe to sell firearms in 1998. The brothers, identified by authorities as German nationals, worked out of a large, unmarked two-story warehouse on Westwood Industrial Drive. They sold the guns over the Internet and by mail, prosecutors said.

The indictment, a result of a two-year investigation, alleges the brothers "reaped a substantial financial profit" from the sales and used the money to "further their firearms importation business" and to "support their extravagant personal lifestyles."

The brothers' last known addresses are at attractive but average-size family homes in Union County subdivisions. The Wiegands are familiar to others in the local firearms community.

Duane Davis, owner of Elite Custom Plating & Weaponry in Monroe, said he went to the Wiegands' warehouse about a year ago, hoping to find clients for his gun refurbishing business. He arrived to find at least a dozen uniformed ATF agents in the warehouse. When he asked what was going on, an employee told him it was a routine ATF inspection, Davis said. But when the agents asked Davis why he was there, and he told them, they showed him out.

In the indictment, Ulrich Wiegand is also accused of directing employees to structure cash deposits in amounts less than $10,000 to avoid reporting requirements.

Both brothers are charged with money laundering.

Charges against each brother carry maximum penalties totaling 960 years in prison.

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TheOtherOne
February 7, 2004, 01:32 PM
Caught this on the other post and it turns out the machine guns were cut up pieces of receivers that the BATFE doesn't approve of. It was such a horrendous crime that I vote for the death penalty for all owners and distributors of scrap metal. :uhoh:

AZRickD
February 7, 2004, 02:00 PM
Yes, BATF requires that they be be sloppily cut up using a torch.
ATF has decided to legislate by indictment, instead of issuing proper regulations.
He's got the BATF pegged on that one.
"...made a profit ... support their extravagent lifestyles..."
What are these phrases doing in the words of a Grand Jury indictment or a US Atty press release?

Would it be better if they sold them at a loss and drove Toyota Corollas?

It's like I'm reading the cover of the National Enquirer.

Rick

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