United States v. Zaleski, No. 11-660 (2d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Zaleski was convicted of possessing machine guns, 18 U.S.C. 922(o), 924(a)(2); possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number, 18 U.S.C. 922(k), 924(a)(1)(B); and possessing firearms, silencers, and destructive devices not registered to him, 26 U.S.C. 5841, 5861(d), and 5871. The district court imposed a 101-month sentence and ordered forfeiture of machine guns and pistols, a shotgun, homemade silencers, hand grenades, and improvised explosive devices, all unlawfully in his possession. Weapons Zaleski lawfully possessed remained in government custody while the government sought an order (All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. 1651(a)), authorizing it to destroy them. Zaleski estimates the value of non-forfeited weapons at $100,000, including guns, 65,000 rounds of ammunition, body armor, grenades, a grenade launcher, explosive chemicals, and materials for pipe bombs. As a convicted felon, Zaleski was prohibited under 18 U.S.C. 922(g) from possessing the items; he sought to have the weapons transferred to a dealer for sale. The court determined that the government did not need the requested order, that the proposed sale arrangement would violate 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1), and that appraisal would be useless because the doctrine of sovereign immunity bars claims for damages. The Second Circuit vacated in part; 922(g) does not categorically prohibit the proposed sale arrangement.