News and Press Releases

jury convicts independence man of attempting
to illegally purchase firearms

August 21, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that an Independence, Mo., man was convicted in federal court today of making false statements to firearms dealers in two separate attempts to illegally purchase firearms.

Russel Gerlt, 61, of Independence, was found guilty of two counts contained in an April 4, 2011, federal indictment.

Gerlt is prohibited from possessing firearms due to his commitment to a mental institution in 1995. However, evidence presented during the trial indicated that Gerlt attempted to purchase firearms on two separate occasions by making false statements to federally licensed firearms dealers.

On Sept. 2, 2009, Gerlt attempted to purchase two Bond Arms .45 caliber revolvers from Arms Mart in Independence. On the federal firearms transaction record, ATF-Form 4473, Gerlt falsely checked the “No” box in answer to question number 11f: “Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective... or have you ever been committed to a mental institution.” The transaction was denied by the NICS system.

On Jan. 29, 2011, Gerlt attempted to purchase two Bond Arms pistols from CR Sales Firearms in Independence. Gerlt again checked the “No” box to question 11f. The transaction was denied by the NICS system.

Under federal statutes, Gerlt is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., deliberated for three and a half hours over two days before returning the guilty verdict to U.S. District Judge DeanWhipple, ending a trial that began Monday, Aug. 20, 2012.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul S. Becker. It was investigated by the Independence, Mo., Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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