Through a plea bargain arrangement, former Federal Firearms Licensee David Laguercia could face jail time in addition to massive fines and revocation of his license, the coordinating counsel for a national cooperative FFL consultancy firm reported in an industry advisory yesterday. Laguercia was the proprietor of the Riverview Gun Shop in East Windsor, Conn., the store that sold the Bushmaster rifle Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza stole from his mother and used in his massacre,
“Through his plea bargain, Laguercia may face prison time,” attorney Chris Chiafullo wrote. “They say it’s unlikely, but he still may.”
It is a possibility. Per Newstimes.com, “Each of the three charges to which Laguercia pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of a one-year prison term, five years of probation and up to $100,000 in fines.”
“Usually, the ‘no FFL’ penalty is reserved for felons under the Gun Control Act,” Chiafullo observed. “But that’s the corner into which Laguercia was obviously painted.”
Laguercia was a client who came to FFLGuard “hot,” that is, his troubles with ATF had begun before he established a client relationship with the firm, which often can assess and identify compliance issues and initiate needed corrective actions to steer dealers away from violations and resultant penalties. Chiafullo described the gun dealer as “a solid guy, a good guy in fact,” as he related what he called “a cautionary tale,” particularly in the environment gun dealers face under the “insidious forms” of the Obama administration.
“Because legislative gun control efforts went the ‘way of the dodo’ in Congress, the executive branch has instead facilitated gun control through executive actions and regulatory enforcement,” Chiafullo explained. “These crackdowns don’t catch criminals as much as they cripple FFLs, but who’s really counting?
Laguercia’s record-keeping errors, Chiafullo continued, were “primarily perpetrated by his employees,” and while the buck stops with the proprietor, in this case authorities withheld critical information from him, including he “didn’t learn until the day of the revocation hearing itself in August 2012 … that one of his employees was under investigation for perpetrating alleged shady sales in Laguercia’s store.
“The hearing was like many other revocation hearings that FFLGuard has handled,” Chiafullo related. “‘Simple record-keeping errors’ and bad timing on the filing of forms, and other things that usually end up with an FFL having his license yanked.
“LaGuercia terminated his rogue employee on the spot, and offered various acts of contrition to ATF in order to continue in his livelihood. The hearing decision went into a state of limbo,” Chiafullo recalled. “And then the Newtown tragedy occurred in December 2012.
“The guns used in Newtown were legally -- and with no record-keeping hiccups whatsoever -- sold from LaGuercia’s store to the shooter’s mother,” Chiafullo reminded his readers. “Shortly thereafter, the Obama ‘we need a pound of flesh’ hammer came down on Laguercia [through] an ATF raid on his store, with media tipped off beforehand.
"Regulatory problems suddenly transformed into criminal problems," Chiafullo noted. "Exit FFLGuard counsel, and enter criminal defense lawyers. Regulatory consequences...? Of course. But criminal? Never. This is a watershed event."
Sentencing is scheduled for November 14.
“The door is now open for this to happen to an FFL anywhere and everywhere,” Chiafullo concluded. “We’ve said it for years, and there’s now teeth in the warning: there’s no such thing as a ‘simple record-keeping error.’ Used to be you could lose your FFL. Now, you can end up in jail. It is absolutely imperative to keep your ATF compliance health beyond reproach, and have a dedicated team of counsel and subject matter experts at your call before things get HOT. By then, it could be way too late.
Chiafullo’s post confirms information Gun Rights Examiner investigated in late December but withheld publishing pending corroboration. This column will be releasing a “part two” to this story in the very near future to include not only further background story, but also strong circumstantial evidence that the media was tipped off by authorities about the raid beforehand to maximize coverage.
The latest GUNS Magazine "Rights Watch" column is online, and you can read it before the magazine hits the stands. B. Todd Jones may be ATF's new director, but the path he's heading the bureau down is decidedly the same old one Holder an Obama want him to stay on. Click here to read "New Director, Same Old Direction".
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