Antique Firearms Expert Indicted

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Feb 14, 2003
Antique Firearms Expert Indicted

Staff and Wire Reports

July 11, 2006

Robert L. Wilson, a world-renowned antique gun expert and former
longtime resident of Hadlyme now serving a prison sentence for fraud, was
indicted Monday on separate charges related to an alleged swindle in
Louisville, Ky.

Wilson, a widely published authority on Colt, Winchester and other
historic firearms, helped an Alabama couple defraud a Louisville museum
founder out of nearly $2 million by inflating the values of some antique
firearms, according to the federal indictment.

Prosecutors estimated that Michael Salisbury and his wife, Karen,
turned a profit of at least $1.75 million from 1997 to 2002 by giving false
appraisals of weapons to collector Owsley Brown Frazier.

Wilson, known as "R.L. Wilson," helped the Salisburys prepare appraisal
certifications in November 2000 for several antique firearms that
Salisbury bought on behalf of Frazier, according to the indictment. The
grand jury charged Wilson with conspiracy to commit fraud and making false
statements on federal tax returns.

The indictment said Wilson, of San Francisco, made the false statements
on his tax returns in 2000 and 2001. He moved to California from the
Hadlyme section of Lyme around 2001, when he filed for bankruptcy

Frazier was collecting antique firearms for the Frazier Historical Arms
Museum in downtown Louisville, which he funded with his own money.
Court documents said Frazier, former vice chairman of the Brown-Forman
Corp., owner of Jack Daniel's and other liquor brands, sometimes paid twice
the value of the original purchase price, federal prosecutors said.

Wilson, 67, faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000
fine. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Louisville on Aug. 21. He is
currently serving a one-year sentence for fraud in Lompoc, Calif., in an
unrelated gun swindling case in Connecticut.

In that case, federal prosecutors said Wilson arranged a deal for a
buyer to acquire an antique Colt pistol in exchange for cash and other
antique firearms. Prosecutors said Wilson kept $195,000 that was supposed
to go to the seller and disposed of the other antique guns to pay off a
creditor. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and was sentenced last

The Salisburys were indicted in federal court in January on charges of
conspiracy to commit fraud, federal tax evasion and money laundering.

Wilson was involved in a controversy in Hartford in the 1970s and 1980s
Wilson involving the Colt firearms collection at the Museum of
Connecticut History, in which 324 pieces were illegally traded out of the
museum in exchange for a dozen firearms or paired sets. No one was charged
with a crime in that case, which was investigated after the time limit
for prosecution had expired.

Monday's indictment of Wilson "comes as no surprise to anyone that
knows him," said Dean Nelson, the current administrator of the state
museum, who has gathered evidence in an effort to show that Wilson's trades
plundered the collection.

Nelson said he turned over his records to the FBI in Kentucky in 2004.

Frazier's 100,000-square-foot museum in downtown Louisville houses
several ancient artifacts and a collection from the Royal Armouries,
Britain's national repository for arms and armor.
Copyright 2006, Hartford Courant
Hopefully, Frazier will be able to recoup some of his losses, the Salisburys will eb convicted, and Wilson will see some more time in the klink. These folks sound like real pieces of work.

By the way, if anyone is ever in the Louisville area, I strongly suggest hitting the Frazier Arms Museum. It's not too shabby... Also, get to the Louisville Slugger plant downtown. Fun for everyone.
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