Jury Finds Gunsmoke Gun Shop Owner Richard Wyatt Guilty of Most Charges
Wyatt starred in a reality TV show from 2011 to 2012 on the Discovery Channel
Acting United States Attorney Bob Troyer, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Steven Osborne, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Denver Field Division Special Agent in Charge Debora Livingston announced that today a jury found Richard Wyatt, age 53, of Evergreen, Colorado guilty of conspiracy to deal in firearms without a license and tax charges (counts 1, 5, and 6 through 13). The jury hung on counts 2 through 4. The guilty verdicts were the result of a 6-day trial before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Marcia S. Krieger. The jury deliberated for approximately 5 days before reaching their verdict. Wyatt, who was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on February 9, 2016, first appeared at the trial free on bond. Wyatt was taken immediately into custody after the jury’s guilty verdict. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief Judge Krieger on July 19, 2017.
According to the indictment and evidence presented at trial, Wyatt operated Gunsmoke, a store in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, that displayed 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.
On Feb. 17, 2012, Wyatt conspired with others to deal in firearms without a license. In April 2012, the defendant surrendered his Federal Firearms License (FFL) due to his violations of federal laws and regulations. After Gunsmoke surrendered its FFL, Gunsmoke changed the address of a store known as Triggers Firearms LLC’s (Triggers) federal firearms license, to the Gunsmoke address, although they 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 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.
After losing his FFL, the defendant did not apply for or obtain a license to sell firearms from the Gunsmoke premises. Wyatt held a meeting the day before losing his license with his employees to describe how he wanted the business to continue to run. Between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2015, no other person was licensed to engage in the business of dealing in firearms at Gunsmoke. Wyatt directed 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 any firearms, Gunsmoke employees directed the customers to another firearm store which had a valid federal firearms license, where the customer 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 FFL license, continued to order new guns for sale to keep the business going.
In addition to the alleged firearms violations, Wyatt failed to pay personal income tax in years 2009, when he made approximately $290,000, in 2010, when he made approximately $123,000, and in 2012, when he made approximately $689,000. Further, in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Wyatt failed to pay corporate taxes. In 2012, 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.
“The defendant decided the rules about guns and paying taxes didn’t apply to him,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. “He now faces well deserved time for that decision.”
"The law is clear on the issue of taxable income and who is required to file and pay taxes: there is no gray area on the subject,” said Steven Osborne, Special Agent in Charge, IRS – Criminal Investigation Denver Field Office. “This conviction sends a message that IRS-CI is working to make sure all taxpayers file and pay their fair share of taxes.”
“The laws and regulations surrounding the sale of firearms exist for a reason, and no one is above the law,” said ATF Denver Field Division Special Agent in Charge Debora Livingston. “ATF is committed to ensuring every gun dealer is appropriately licensed, educated and inspected, and we will investigate those who believe the rules do not apply to them.”
This case was investigated by the ATF and IRS-CI. The defendant faces up to 5 years in prison per count for each of the two counts of conspiracy. He faces not more than 1 year per count for each tax count.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Suneeta Hazra, Peter McNeilly and Anna Edgar, with Assistant United States Attorney Tonya Andrews assisting on the asset forfeiture.