Posted on Sat, Oct. 02, 2004
New indictment revises gun charges
Documents omit most weapon types men were accused of importing
EMILY S. ACHENBAUM
New federal indictments were unsealed Wednesday against a pair of Union County-based brothers already charged with selling more than 3,500 Russian and Soviet machine guns.
Oliver Wiegand, 38, and Ulrich Wiegand, 34, are now charged with two counts of presenting false information to U.S. Customs while importing approximately 7,500 units of a machine gun part.
In May and July of 2000, the indictment says, the Wiegands illegally got the items into the country using false invoices and declarations, listing wrong countries of origin and listing the equipment as deactivated under Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives specifications.
But the new indictment also revises and narrows some of the charges in the original indictment filed in February by omitting most types of guns the brothers are accused of importing.
The new indictment states the brothers' alleged illegal activities involved PPSH 41 Russian machine guns. The old one listed several types of guns, including guns from Brazil and England. It's not clear why those guns are no longer part of the indictment.
"Apparently, the newer indictment omits all reference to several types of kits in the first indictment," said Lyle Yurko, Ulrich Wiegand's attorney. "We're pleased those kits are not alleged as illegal," he said.
Representatives from the U.S. District Attorney's Office in Charlotte said they could not comment on the indictments.
In February, the brothers, German nationals, were charged with importing illegal machine guns and money laundering in an 83-count indictment.
Prosecutors say 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.
Their attorneys say the men sold parts kits, not operable guns, and the Wiegands are victims of vague ATF guidelines.
Both of the men are out on bond and have forfeited their passports.
Oliver Wiegand, who posted a $1 million bond, agreed to travel only for business purposes within the United States. Ulrich Wiegand is out on a $500,000 bond, and agreed not to leave the western and central districts of the state.
The brothers operate a federally licensed gun dealership in Monroe, Inter Ordnance of America.
They sold over the Internet and by mail, prosecutors said. Inter Ordnance got a license from the city of Monroe to sell firearms in 1998.
The original 83-count indictment was the result of a two-year investigation.
Inter Ordnance's Web site is still active.
Thursday, the site advertised a rare Yugoslavian rifle, rifles used by Soviet infantry until the end of World War II, and free shipping on most items more than $100.
fucking registration required
Monroe Gun Dealers Charged With
Illegally Importing Machine Guns
The Associated Press
MONROE, N.C. -- A pair of gun-trading brothers face federal charges of illegally importing Russian and Soviet-made machine guns and selling thousands of the weapons across the country.
Oliver and Ulrich Wiegand are charged in an 83-count indictment with crimes including conspiracy, illegal importation of machine guns, illegal possession and transfer of machine guns, and money laundering.
Oliver, 37, and Ulrich, 34, are brothers and German nationals, federal authorities said Thursday. They operate Inter Ordnance, a gun dealership based in Monroe; the charges involve Inter Ordnance and businesses in Witten, Germany, and Ferlach, Austria.
The Wiegands, both of Indian Trail, "reaped a substantial financial profit" from the sales and used the money to "support their extravagant personal lifestyles," according to a federal grand jury indictment issued Tuesday and unsealed Thursday.
Charges against each brother carry maximum penalties totaling 960 years in prison.
"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.
Ulrich Wiegand was held after an appearance Thursday before a federal magistrate in Charlotte. Oliver Wiegand was believed to be out of the country.
"My client and his company have tried their best to comply with vague ATF guidelines," Oliver Wiegand's lawyer, Chris Fialko, said. "He denies any wrongdoing."
Ulrich Wiegand's attorney could not be reached for comment.
The indictment alleges the brothers concealed the illegal sales of machine guns by referring to them as "parts kits" - allowing them to evade tax payments, record-keeping requirements, and required background checks of potential customers.
Prosecutors said the brothers used their German and Austrian businesses to illegally import the guns, then sold more than 3,500 of them in parts kits by mail and Internet without background checks or recording ownership registration.
The indictment said the firearms were sold to customers in South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Arkansas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois.
But, Fialko 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," he said. "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 various bank 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.
Inter Ordnance's Web site tells customers it is a wholesale firearms distributor. The site offers items for sale including weapons and military gear such as a Belgian gas mask and reproductions of German World War II boots and helmets.