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Gun dealer convicted on 19 federal counts

Published Oct. 9, 2005

One of the biggest machine gun dealers in Florida was convicted Wednesday of possessing weapons illegally and defrauding police departments in 1989 to obtain assault rifles in violation of a federal ban.

Thomas G. Bailey, 43, of Seminole County, who at one time had an inventory of more than 200 machine guns, was charged with firearms records violations, illegal possession of machine guns and grenades, mail fraud, perjury and obstructing an investigation.

After a three-week trial and a day and a half of deliberation, a federal jury found Bailey guilty of 19 counts, but acquitted him on two counts of mail fraud involving sales of guns to individuals.

Prosecutors called Bailey "a hustler" who lied to manufacturers, police agencies, other gun dealers and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms during a scheme to obtain assault-style rifles banned from sale to the general public.

Bailey, a licensed gun dealer, persuaded law enforcement agencies in Ormond Beach, Wauchula, Titusville and Clay County to order German weapons through his business. He then added guns to the official law enforcement orders, with the intent of selling the extra weapons to the public.

The scheme allowed Bailey to obtain guns only available to law enforcement at wholesale prices and without paying a federal excise tax.

Bailey was charged with trying to sell one of the German guns to an undercover ATF agent at a gun show at the Tampa fairgrounds.

In closing arguments to the jury Monday, Bailey's attorney accused the case agent, Chuck Hudson of ATF, of setting up Bailey and fabricating evidence to support charges against him, then lying during his testimony.

In response, first Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Kehoe told the jury, "If you think (Hudson) lied and perjured himself, let Bailey go."