Chesterton Tribune



Sentenced in Lake County machine gun conspiracy

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A Richboro, Pa., man has been sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison, for his role in the acquisition of machine guns and restricted laser aiming sights, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana said.

Vahan Kelerchian, 58, doing business as Armament Services International (ASI), was sentenced to 100 months in prison and one year of supervised release as well as ordered to pay a $100,000 fine and $28,200 in restitution, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

KelerchianÑwho was found guilty after a two-week trial that ended October 15, 2016Ñwas taken into custody upon sentencing to begin serving his sentence.

“According to evidence presented at trial, Kelerchian conspired with Joseph Kumstar and Ronald Slusser, now former Lake County Police officers, to knowingly make false statements relating to the acquisition of firearms,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “Kumstar and Slusser, who have pleaded guilty, used their positions as sworn law enforcement officers in coordination with Kelerchian, using his position as a Class 3 federal firearms licensee, to acquire approximately 71 fully automatic machine guns in the name of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, knowing that the Lake County Sheriff’s Department was not going to be the true owner of these weapons.”

“Kelerchian, Kumstar, and Slusser conspired to use law enforcement letter head to create letters which falsely represented that the machine guns were going to be used by the Lake County Sheriff’s Department to carry out its law enforcement responsibilities, since machine guns manufactured after 1986 can only be acquired by law enforcement agencies and not individual officers,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “The machine guns were purchased for a cost of $1,200 and $1,600 and then when received by the Sheriff’s Department, transported offsite to be parted out.”

The guns’ barrelsÑalso known as “uppers”Ñwere split among Kelerchian, Kumstar, and Slusser, who sold them at prices as high as $3,600, since post-1986 parts are not available to the general public.

In addition, Kelerchian used his company, ASI, to assist Kumstar and Slusser in acquiring 74 restricted laser aiming sights, by once again using law enforcement letterhead from the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and the Lowell Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Kelerchian was also found guilty of money laundering and making false statements to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regarding false demonstration letters involving high powered belt-fed machine guns, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

“Mr. Kelerchian abused the authority entrusted to him for criminal purposes,” U.S. Attorney Thomas Kirsch II said. “The 8 years that he will spend in federal prison, which began today, should be a deterrent to others similarly situated that act for illegal purposes. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to aggressively prosecute our nation’s firearm laws and seek meaningful sentences of offenders to both punish and deter this type of criminal behavior.”

As reported previously, Joseph Kumstar was sentenced to 57 months and Ronald Slusser to 70 months for their involvement in this case.


Posted 2/6/2018




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