Gunsmoke Gun Shop Owner Sentenced to 78 Months for Conspiracy and Tax Fraud
490 Firearms Ordered Forfeited
DENVER – Richard Wyatt, age 54, of Evergreen, Colorado was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Marcia S. Krieger to serve 78 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to deal in firearms without a license and for tax fraud, announced United States Attorney Bob Troyer, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Denver Field Office Special Agent in Charge Steven Osborne, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Denver Field Division Special Agent in Charge Debora Livingston. As part of today’s sentencing, the Court found that 490 firearms were involved in the commission of Wyatt’s offenses. Those firearms were ordered forfeited. The amount of restitution to the Internal Revenue Service will be determined at a future hearing.
According to the indictment and evidence presented at trial, Wyatt operated Gunsmoke, a store in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, displaying firearms and firearm accessories for sale. Wyatt was the principal decision maker for the store and controlled the store’s bank account. In addition to holding itself out as a business that bought and sold firearms, Gunsmoke provided gunsmithing services. Wyatt aggressively publicized his business by posting videos on YouTube and by appearing in a reality television series that appeared on the Discovery Channel. The reality TV show aired from 2011 through 2012, showing a total of 26 episodes.
In April 2012, Wyatt surrendered Gunsmoke’s federal firearms license due to violations of federal laws and regulations. After Gunsmoke surrendered its federal firearms license, Gunsmoke changed the address of the federal firearms license of another store known as Triggers Firearms LLC’s (Triggers) to the Gunsmoke address, but did not play any role in managing the store or receive any profits. Thereafter, Wyatt continued to operate Gunsmoke as a retail firearms store that also offered gunsmithing services, but Wyatt never held an ownership interest in Triggers or assumed management of Triggers. Wyatt and other conspirators submitted false paperwork to the ATF to hide that Triggers was acting as a straw licensee for Gunsmoke.
Without a federal firearms license, Wyatt ran his business by directing Gunsmoke employees to enter firearm sales in Gunsmoke’s computer point of sales software system as “miscellaneous” sales rather than firearm sales. Customers who shopped at Gunsmoke were able to look at numerous firearms that were displayed throughout the store. Customers were able to speak with Gunsmoke employees, including Wyatt, about the features of particular firearms. Finally, customers selected and purchased firearms from Gunsmoke and were able to have gunsmithing services performed on firearms at the Gunsmoke premises. After receiving payment for firearms, Gunsmoke employees directed customers to another firearms store which had a valid federal firearms license, where the customers filled out the background check paperwork and the customers took possession of the firearm(s) they had purchased at Gunsmoke. Customers who wanted gunsmithing services left their firearms with Gunsmoke. After the gunsmiths at Gunsmoke completed their work, they returned the firearms to the customers. The customers paid Gunsmoke directly for this service. Wyatt, without the federal firearms license, continued to order new guns for sale to keep the business going.
After a 3-week jury trial last year, a Denver jury convicted Wyatt of two counts of conspiracy of dealing in firearms without a license, filing a false tax return, and multiple counts of failure to file. Specifically, Wyatt failed to pay over $500,000 in income tax for years 2009-2012, and did not file tax returns for years 2009, 2010 and 2012. For 2011, Wyatt willfully filed a tax return he knew to be false, stating that he lost money, when in fact he made at least $350,000 that he failed to disclose.
“A man has to make a choice, and Wyatt chose wrong,” said U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. “Unless your ambition is to serve a long sentence in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, selling guns illegally and cheating on your taxes are going to be bad choices.”
“Even television reality stars are not exempt from the reality of our nation’s tax laws,” said Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Denver Field Office Special Agent in Charge Steve Osborne. “IRS-CI will continue focusing our investigative efforts on individuals who attempt to thwart their tax responsibilities and do not comply with the law. Today’s sentencing is a reminder that there are detrimental consequences for this type of criminal behavior.”
“Wyatt’s willingness to operate outside of the law is not only an affront to public safety, but also to all Federal Firearms Licensees that follow federal firearm laws and regulations every day,” said Special Agent in Charge Debora Livingston of the Denver Field Division for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. “The sentence today demonstrates that ATF will investigate those who attempt to circumvent those laws and regulations.”
This case was investigated by IRS-CI and ATF. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Suneeta Hazra, Peter McNeilly, and Anna Edgar. Assistant United States Attorney Tonya Andrews is handling the forfeiture of assets associated with the case.
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