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Manuele v. Acting Director of Industry Operations

May 22, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott, U.S. District Judge


This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives' ("ATF") Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 16) ("Motion"). The ATF revoked Plaintiff Tony Manuele's federal license to sell firearms.*fn1 Manuele filed this action to secure judicial review of the revocation. 18 U.S.C. § 923(e). Based on a de novo review of the record, the Court finds that Manuele willfully violated ATF record-keeping regulations in at least two respects: (1) he failed to keep a record of 502 acquisitions of firearms, and (2) he failed to file required reports of multiple sales of firearms with the ATF. He knew he was obligated to perform these two record-keeping functions, but he did not do so. These willful violations support the ATF's decision to revoke Manuele's license.


In 1991, Manuele applied for a federal firearms license (License) and paid a $30.00 fee. The ATF sent Manuele a License about three months later. Manuele Deposition, at 9. The ATF sent Manuele two forms: Form No. 4473 ("4473 form", or "4473"), and the ATF form 3310.4 ("Multiple Sales form"). Id., at 26. The 4473 form is an application to purchase a firearm. 27 C.F.R. §478.124(c). Each purchaser is required to fill out his application. Manuele had each purchaser fill out a 4473, but some purchasers did not fill out the forms completely. A Multiple Sales form is a form that firearms dealers are required to complete and send to the ATF to report any sale of more than one handgun to the same person within a five-day period. 27 C.F.R. § 478.126(a). Manuele filed the Multiple Sales forms with the ATF whenever he had a multiple sale up until January 2003.

Thereafter, he prepared these forms, but did not send them to the ATF. Motion, Exhibit 1, Record of Informal Hearing on January 30, 2007 ("Hearing Transcript"), at 87; Manuele Deposition, at 94-96; Motion, Exhibit 6, Deposition of Lois Manuele, at 16-17.

In connection with his firearms sales business, Manuele went to gun shows. Manuele learned from other gun dealers at these shows that he was supposed to keep records of acquisitions and dispositions of weapons. Manuele Deposition, at 25, 35. Thereafter, Manuele kept two separate running logs, one for acquisitions and one for dispositions. Id., at 74. He also believed that the 4473 constituted the record of the disposition of a weapon. Hearing Transcript, at 38.

Manuele had very little contact with the ATF until October 2005. In approximately 1994, two ATF agents contacted Manuele about some missing weapons. At that time, Manuele kept his logs of acquisitions and dispositions by computer. The agents told Manuele that he needed special permission to keep the records on computer, and until he got permission, he needed to keep the records manually. Manuele Deposition, at 30. Thereafter Manuele kept the two logs manually. Manuele stopped at ATF booths at gun shows in 2000 to find out about a new Youth Handgun Act.

Id., at 19-20. Manuele contacted ATF agents located in Springfield on occasion when he had questions about transactions. The ATF periodically contacted Manuele to trace a particular firearm. Manuele responded by providing information on his acquisition and disposition of the firearm.*fn2 Hearing Transcript, at 80-81. In 2005, the ATF mailed Manuele a copy of its Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide. Manuele Deposition, at 15-16.

In October 2005, ATF inspector Theresa Bolash went to Manuele's business location to inspect his records. She found the storefront locked. She called the telephone number for the business and found that the telephone had been disconnected. She then attempted to contact Manuele at his residence. After several tries, she eventually made contact with Manuele. She told him she wanted to conduct an inspection of his records. Manuele explained that he recently moved his business to his home. She told Manuele to contact her when he had received zoning approval to operate his business from his home. Eventually, she conducted the inspection in January 2006. Motion, Exhibit 4, Affidavit of Theresa Bolash ("Bolash Affidavit"), at ¶¶ 5-13.*fn3

On January 12, 2006, Bolash and another inspector went to Manuele's home. She stated in her Affidavit that she found the records in complete disarray. The 4473 forms were all over the house. Manuele explained that these records became disorganized when he moved his business. Bolash told Manuele that his records were not kept properly. The regulations required that he keep a single log of acquisitions and dispositions in bound volumes and in a particular format so that the information regarding acquisition and disposition of each firearm is entered together on the same page and "lines up" with each other. Id., ¶¶ 14-26.

Bolash also found that 611 dispositions of firearms were not in the running disposition log that Manuele kept. Hearing Transcript, at 42-43. Manuele believed that he had a record of each disposition because he had the 4473 for each transaction. Id., at 38. Bolash told him that he was required to keep the single bound log of acquisitions and dispositions. Manuele Deposition, at 20. Bolash also found a number of deficiencies in the 4473's due to missing information and incomplete responses to questions on the form. Hearing Transcript, 91-94, 106-10.

Bolash also found that Manuele had failed to enter 502 acquisitions into his running acquisition log. She found 486 instances in which the sale of a firearm appeared in Manuele's disposition log, but no corresponding entry appeared in the acquisition log. Hearing Transcript, at 67. In addition, Manuele had 16 firearms in his inventory which had not been entered into his acquisitions log. Id., at 59. Manuele admitted he knew that he had to keep acquisition records, but he had not entered some of the acquisitions into his log. Hearing Transcript, at 67.

Bolash found that the 4473's were also not kept in order. The regulations required that the 4473's be kept alphabetically by purchaser; numerically by serial number; or chronologically by date of transaction. Manuele kept the 4473's in chronological order in binders, but the binders came apart, and the 4473's got mixed up. Bolash Affidavit, ¶ 27; Hearing Transcript, at 90. Manuele was in the process of placing the 4473's in expandable folders, but had not completed the process. Some of the 4473's were in chronological order in folders and some were not. Manuele Deposition, at 64-68.

Bolash also found that Manuele made 40 multiple sales transactions after January 2003, but did not send in Multiple Sales forms to report these transactions to the ATF. Hearing Transcript, at 79, 84. Manuele admitted that he knew he was supposed to send these reports to the ATF whenever he made a multiple sale. He stated that he had family obligations after January ...

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