News and Press Releases

St. Johnsbury Firearms Dealer Charged With Tax And Gun Crimes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 10, 2013

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that yesterday a grand jury sitting in Burlington, Vermont, returned a six-count indictment charging Philip Ciotti, 56, of St. Johnsbury, VT, with tax and gun crimes related to his sales of firearms through his federal firearms license. The indictment included two counts of filing false tax returns in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1), an offense carrying penalties of up to 3 years in prison per count; one count of possessing an unregistered short-barreled rifle in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5841, 5861(d), and 5871, an offense carrying penalties of up to 10 years in prison; two counts alleging that Ciotti, as a federal firearms licensee, failed to keep required records regarding gun sales, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(b)(5) and 924(a)(1)(D), an offense carrying penalties of up to five years per count; and one count of failing to contact the national instant criminal background check system in connection with the sale of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(t) and 924(a)(5), an offense carrying penalties of up to one year in prison. Mr. Ciotti’s arraignment will be scheduled by the Court.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Burlington simultaneously filed a two-count information charging Richard Bernholz, 58, of Franklin, Vermont, with filing a false tax return in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1), an offense carrying penalties of up to three years in prison, and with aiding and abetting the failure to keep adequate records by a federal firearms licensee in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(m), 924(a)(3)(B), & 2, an offense carrying penalties of up to one year in prison. Mr. Bernholz has agreed to plead guilty to the charges, according to documents filed yesterday.

The indictment is an accusation only and that the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. Any sentence ultimately imposed in these cases will be advised by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division, both based in Burlington, investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia Cowles represents the government. Mr. Bernholz is represented by Paul Volk, Esq., of Burlington, Vermont. Mr. Ciotti is represented by David Sleigh, Esq., of St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

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