Colosimo's gun shop to lose license

Posted: September 29, 2009

Authorities moved yesterday to shut down a well-known Philadelphia gun shop for violations of federal firearms laws in connection with selling guns to straw purchasers. The federal firearms license of Colosimo's Inc., on Spring Garden Street near 9th, will be revoked tomorrow.

Colosimo's owner, James G. Colosimo, 77, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal district court on behalf of the gun shop to charges that it had made false statements and had failed to maintain proper records involving the purchases of 10 firearms between Aug. 4, 2004 and April 18, 2007.

Colosimo himself was not charged because there was no evidence that he was aware of or involved in the illegal activities, authorities said. However, he will not be allowed to apply for another firearms license.

Colosimo's attorney, Joseph Canuso, declined comment.

As part of the plea agreement, Colosimo's Inc. has agreed to provide information to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regarding guns missing from its inventory from 2000 to 2008, in addition to providing access to forms completed by customers at its firing range.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Savage set sentencing for Jan. 6, at which time Colosimo's Inc. could face up to five years' probation and a $200,000 fine.

Prosecutors recommended a sentence for the company of five years' probation and a $10,000 fine as part of the plea. Savage has the final say on the fine and will impose the terms of probation at sentencing.

The government's plea memorandum said that on Aug. 4, 2004, a straw purchaser identified only as "Person #1" received money from "H.B." and a male known as "Shiz" to purchase four firearms on their behalf at Colosimo's.

H.B. accompanied Person #1 into Colosimo's and provided money to Person #1 in the presence of a store employee, who recorded that the purchase had been made by Person #1.

None of the four firearms has been recovered. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tomika Stevens told Savage that prosecutors did not know if the firearms had been used in any crimes.

After that purchase, ATF agents set up controlled buys using informants for the purchases of six firearms between Dec. 8, 2005, and April 18, 2007, the plea memo said.

Those guns were turned over to ATF agents immediately after the purchases, which were set up and monitored by the ATF, court documents said.

On one occasion a cooperating witness, A.P., identified himself as the buyer, but Person #2, the straw purchaser, filled out the paperwork, identifying himself as the buyer. A Colosimo's employee recorded the transaction in the straw purchaser's name.

On another occasion, a government informant and Person #3 entered Colosimo's together. Court papers said that the informant had told a Colosimo's employee that Person #3, the straw purchaser, was buying a handgun for the informant because the informant could not buy a gun. The Colosimo's employee recorded the purchase in Person #3's name, court papers said.

Colosimo's had been the site of protests in recent months by community groups calling for the shop's closure because, they said, guns purchased at the shop often had been used in crimes.

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