Keeping records of your exercise of rights

Imagine you were in the printing business and the government required you to put serial numbers on every book you printed. Imagine the Bureau of Books (BoB) seized a book at a private residence and tried to trace how it got into the hands of someone who was forbidden by Federal law to own a book. They then found out book was recorded as being scrapped instead of lost or stolen.

This is what then happens:

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ROBERT BRINKERHOFF, 54, of Old Lyme, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to one year of probation for violating federal firearms laws.  BRINKERHOFF worked as the general manager of Tri-Town Plastics, a federally-licensed firearms manufacturer located in Deep River.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Tri-Town Plastics (“Tri-Town”), which has since been bought by Smith and Wesson, had a contract with Smith and Wesson to manufacturer firearm frames at its Deep River facility.  In February 2012, after the Plainfield Police Department seized a Smith and Wesson 9 millimeter handgun from a residence, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) learned that Smith and Wesson had no record of the handgun ever having been manufactured.  According to Tri-Town’s records, the handgun had been scrapped back in March 2011.  At that time, ATF was preparing to conduct a routine inspection of Tri-Town to determine whether to renew their federal license to manufacture firearms.  Tri-Town had also been inspected in 2009 and been directed by ATF to address some record-keeping issues discovered during that inspection.  When two Tri-Town employees discovered that there were approximately 23 firearms missing from their inventory, rather than report them as missing, the employees falsely listed them as “scrapped” in Tri-Town’s acquisition and disposition records, so that ATF would not learn that they were missing and would renew Tri-Town’s license.

Soon after ATF contacted Tri-Town in February 2012 to ask about the Smith and Wesson handgun seized in Plainfield, one of the Tri-Town employees responsible for the fraudulent scrapping advised BRINKERHOFF of what had been done in March 2011.  At that point, BRINKERHOFF, who had not known about the March 2011 conduct, failed to report these missing firearms as lost or stolen.  In June 2012, BRINKERHOFF caused a theft/loss report to be filed with ATF that listed all of these firearms, but the report failed to advise ATF that all of the firearms had been falsely listed as scrapped back in March 2011.

On March 10, 2014, BRINKERHOFF pleaded guilty to one count of failing to file a theft/loss report and one count of making false statements in a theft/loss report, which are both misdemeanor offenses.

As part of his sentence, Judge Underhill prohibited BRINKERHOFF from engaging in a firearms-related business for a period of 90 days.

This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert M. Spector and Vanessa Richards.

The Second Amendment is just as important as the First Amendment. That this happened to a someone in the gun industry doesn’t make it any less repugnant.


11 thoughts on “Keeping records of your exercise of rights

  1. It was reported as being scraped instead of stolen, not sold. If it was the IRS that was investigating a bunch of X being sold instead of scraped, it would be the same thing.

    Back to the gun, if I understand the process correctly, a gun maker has to keep track of all the serial numbers of their guns and to whom they sold them, this serial number trail then goes through the distributor and to the reseller who keeps record to whom the gun was sold. So, if DOJ wants to know to whom the gun was originally sold, they have to follow this same trail, as they don’t keep a national gun database.

    In this case, I assume a few people got in trouble: the person who the gun was seized from, the person who stole the gun from Tri-Town, the two people who originally reported it as scrapped, and the person who corrected the report four months after finding out about the mistake (BRINKERHOFF )

  2. “If it was the IRS that was investigating a bunch of X being sold instead of scraped, it would be the same thing.”

    A similar thing, but that doesn’t make it right. On principle, your belongings are no more the government’s business than that of some unrelated shmuck on the other side of the planet. The only crime here would be if it were an insurance fraud case, which apparently it isn’t.

    Having worked in a retail business dealing with thousands of serial numbered items, I understand how very difficult is can be to account for every single one over a period of years. One example that comes to mind is a case of an item being brought in for repair. Two people owned the exact same make and model, and the components are readily interchangeable. These two were close associates and they had inadvertently swapped serial numbered components. Now we had a customer on record as having bought one item, yet was bringing in for repair another of the same description with a different serial number. That can happen in-house too. Then there’s the replacement of damaged components with new ones with different numbers, or a customer takes an item out in installment payments, pays a pittance to get it out the door and never makes another payment, then sells it to someone else, who sells it to someone else, who innocently brings it in for repair. “Hey; this belongs to me…!”
    “No it doesn’t. I bought it fair and square…” There’s nothing you can do about it because it’s not technically stolen– It’s an “uncollected debt” and that’s not a legal matter. You loan one out to an employee “overnight”, it gets forgotten for three years and when it hasn’t turned up for that long you write it off the books as “lost” or “derelict”. It may turn up years later, so you put it back on the inventory. You CAN NOT have items in inventory that aren’t there, because that will screw up everything from ordering to sales to COGS; “Why yes, Mr. Customer. We have one of those ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Oh; I guess it seems we don’t.”

    You WOULD NOT believe how many ways your data (and physical inventory, which may or may not match) can get screwed up until you’ve experienced it, especially with multiple people having editing control over the data and physical access to the inventory. And that’s with all honest people in your operation. Add a shyster or two into the mix and all bets are off… And who’s business is it really, anyway? Yours alone, that’s who, and your shareholders, if any. You do what you can.

    • Had a local National Guard MP company that came up short on inventory.

      $60,000 short. From ONE company. Plus, they had almost as much EXTRA stuff as they were short.

      It was eventually located and sorted out, and the problem was bad paperwork not documenting equipment transferred to other units (permanently or temporarily), and well as equipment transferred in but not documented properly on teh books.

      Still ended up relieving the CO, XO, 1SG, and supply sergeant for cause.

      • (And for those who might not have military experience, the total equipment inventory of a NG MP company is peanuts compared to even a moderate commerical business, PLUS stays somewhat static. Just an illustration of how inventory can be fouled up on paper, but not in reality — imagine how much worse the foul up would have been if someone falsified more paperwork to “fix” the shortages. . . )

      • We had a “fix” for those type of issues in the unit I was in (50th Signal Battalion, Fort Bragg): prior to the “official” inventory inspection, we did our own inventory and “removed” the extra (quite a lot) items and “borrowed” any missing (rare) items. Seemed like everyone around us did the same thing.

    • You can’t compare being a retailer with being a manufacturer.

      I used to work in the pharmaceutical industry (in one of the “Control” departments) and I think big things like guns would be considerably easier to document and control than small stuff like raw ingredients and manufactured items that are produced in the millions.

      • How often did you have to discard a barrel of amphetimines that had flaws invisible to the naked eye, and which would still permit it to act pretty much as designed – just wasn’t “up to snuff” for final QC standards?

        I worked at a plant that lost scrapped 2′ jet turbine blades, rocket nozzles for NASA satellite launches, etc., made from exotic alloys that were very vaulable as scrap metal (if the recycler had the proper equipment). We only found out when the scrap yard contacted authorities and us, because nothing they had could touch the metal without destoryoing tools, and they found it odd that such exotic materials would be regularly scrapped by the same dude every Saturday.

        Guy was just moving stuff out to his car instead of the scrapped parts storage.

        And yes, some of this stuff was actually more highly controlled than semniautomatic pistols, due to ITAR and military classification levels.

  3. Note that the first amendment ends with the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Try to exercise that right in any meaningful way, and you’re risking serious jail time.

  4. He failed to report the actions of the employees when he learned of them and, knowing of their false statement, didn’t correct it when he did take action a year later?

    This is managerial incompetence and malfeasance, that the regs maybe shouldn’t exist doesn’t excuse that.

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