Mtn. City gun raid

From Staff Reports
ABINGDON -- A Mountain City man was charged in federal court here Tuesday for illegal gun trading following a seven-month investigation conducted by agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Bill Wallace, 47, was charged with conspiracy to engage in the business of selling guns without a federal license and willfully aiding those engaged in the business of selling guns without a federal license.
The investigation centered in Chilhowie, Va. at Snapp's Trading Post with charges against nine men from Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and West Virginia.
In affidavits filed in the case, agents accused Wallace of selling guns off the books to customers at his Mountain City store, Army Surplus and Variety. Agents confiscated 170 firearms from the store and said the guns were taken across the state line to the Chilhowie flea market and sold by James Brown, 62, of Zionsville, North Carolina.
Federal law requires gun dealers to be licensed. The law also forbids gun sales across state lines except between licensed dealers. Although Wallace was a licensed dealer, agents said Brown was not.
Wallace pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. He is free on bond with a trial date set for March 15.
Brown has been indicted on charges of conspiracy, aiding and abetting the business of selling guns without a federal license, three counts of transferring a firearm to an out-of-state resident and knowingly selling a firearm to a felon.
If Brown is convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum 35 years in prison. His arraignment hearing is set for Jan. 23.
Robert V. St. Lawrence, 65, of Graham, N.C., also was arraigned Tuesday on one count of knowingly selling a gun to a resident of another state. Lawrence is accused of selling an assault rifle to an ATF informant in July.
St. Lawrence also pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is free on bond and his trial is set for March 2.
Two other men, chiropractor Christopher Allen Perry, 38, of Bristol, Tenn. and James "Bobby" Yates, 35, of Damascus, Va. were scheduled to be arraigned yesterday.
Perry is accused of being involved in the illegal sale of a machine gun and owning several unregistered machine guns. ATF agents seized more than 100 firearms from his Kingsport residence. Perry allegedly purchased the guns off the books from Wallace's store, then sold them at Snapp's Trading Post in Chilhowie, according to affidavits filed in the case.
Yates also has been charged in connection with an illegal machine-gun sale.
  ATF agents reportedly seized and/or purchased a total of more than 300 firearms, including two machine guns, and $60,000 in cash as the result of a year-long investigation into illegal weapons trafficking.
   ATF agents said their findings also included a grenade, anti-aircraft guns, Nazi paraphernalia, marijuana and anti-government literature.