HAMMOND | Federal authorities in Hammond announced the indictment Friday of a Pennsylvania gun dealer on nine counts alleging he conspired with two former Lake County police officers in a public corruption case involving firearms sales.
In a separate and unrelated case, Hammond federal prosecutors also announced the indictment of the owner of a Crown Point graphic design business with one count of filing a false tax return and one count of making false statements in a bankruptcy proceeding. The false statements pertained to income he earned through a contract with the Lake County Sheriff's Department, prosecutors said.
In the first case, Vahan Kelerchian, 53, who owns a Philadelphia-based Internet gun business, is accused of conspiring with the two former officers, Joseph Kumstar and Ronald Slusser, between November 2008 and January 2010 to make false statements to the federal government concerning the acquisition of firearms.
Kumstar, Slusser and former sheriff's Officer Ed Kabella have pleaded guilty in the same scheme, admitting to using their positions on the department to purchase machine guns and laser sights meant solely for the use of law enforcement or military officials. The barrels from the guns and the laser sights then were sold for personal profit.
The most recent indictment against Kelerchian alleges he, Kumstar and Slusser used the Lake County Sheriff's Department to acquire about 71 machine guns and 74 laser sights, misrepresenting to federal authorities that the firearms would be owned by the department when, in fact, they were broken down and sold as parts for personal gain.
U.S. Attorney David Capp said his office was working Friday to secure an agreement for Kelerchian's surrender to federal authorities by Monday.
In the second unrelated case, Crown Point businessman Roman Perez, 41, was accused of understating his taxable income for 2007 by about $110,108, of which about $80,000 came from payments he received for graphic design work rendered to the Lake County sheriff, Capp said.
Perez also is accused of understating his gross income for 2009 by more than $40,000 in a bankruptcy filing, Capp said.
Perez has agreed to plead guilty in the matter, Capp said.