HAMMOND | A Philadelphia gun dealer pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of conspiring with two former Lake County sheriff's cops in an alleged illegal gun sales scheme.
Vahan Kelerchian, 53, who owns a Pennsylvania-based Internet gun business, is accused of conspiring with 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.
Kelerchian was arraigned on the charges in Hammond federal court Monday and then released on a $20,000 unsecured bond. Pending trial, he has agreed not to step foot in his Pennsylvania gun warehouse and is required to surrender a separate license he holds for dealing in explosives, federal prosecutors said.
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 indictment against Kelerchian alleges he, Kumstar and Slusser used the name of 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.