United States v. Kelerchian, No. 18-1320 (7th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Kelerchian was a licensed firearms dealer. His co-conspirators were Kumstar, the Deputy Chief of the Lake County, Indiana, Sheriff’s Department, and Slusser, a patrolman who was the armorer for the department’s SWAT team. The trio defrauded firearms manufacturer H&K and the laser sight producer Insight into selling them machine-guns and laser sights restricted to law enforcement and military use. After many fraudulent transactions, the three were indicted. Kumstar and Slusser pleaded guilty. Kelerchian was convicted on four counts of conspiracy and four counts of making false writings. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. A machine-gun counts as a firearm for purposes of 18 U.S.C. 924, so Kelerchian was properly charged with conspiracy to violate the Act by submitting documents falsely telling H&K that the buyer of all the machineguns would be the Lake County Sheriff’s Department. Kelerchian was properly charged with a violation of 18 U.S.C. 371. There was sufficient evidence to prove the charges involving the “demonstration letters” that enabled Kelerchian to buy machine-guns for his personal collection and the money-laundering conspiracy charge. The court rejected challenges to jury instructions and a claim of “constructive amendment” of the indictment.