A Los Angeles business owner accused of illegally manufacturing parts for AR-15 rifles pleaded not guilty in front of a federal court Monday.
Joseph Roh was indicted by a federal grand jury in California last week on a charge of manufacturing and dealing in firearms without a license.
Roh, who owns Rohg Industries, did not have the proper license to manufacture and sell lower receivers for AR-15 rifles — something he allegedly sold hundreds of — in addition to completed rifles and pistols, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says.
Through his manufacturing business, Roh attempted to bypass the licensing requirement by selling an unfinished lower receiver to a customer and requiring him or her to perform the finishing step, often at the business, prosecutors say.
An unfinished receiver is defined as lacking final markings and holes drilled to fit a trigger assembly.
Prosecutors say Roh had his customers complete the machining with his company’s computer-numerically-controlled, or CNC, machine in which all one has to do is push a button to operate. Otherwise, his employees did the vast majority of the work.
The sale of unfinished lower receivers is not regulated, but the manufacture and sale of completed lower receivers – which are considered firearms under federal law – requires a proper license.
Additionally, Roh would also, if the customer wanted, assemble the rest of the firearm by adding an upper receiver, a barrel and other necessary parts to the lower receiver, prosecutors say.
Earlier this year another California business, Ares Armor, fell under federal scrutiny for its practice of selling unfinished lowers. Ares’ owner had a high-profile fight with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives before agents raided the store in March.
Roh, who also owns a business registered in Nevada called Mik Mac, Inc., has been fighting a civil suit since September 2013 with a North Carolina machining company over contracts. Both of Roh’s companies are named as plaintiffs in the suit.
With the one-count charge, Roh faces a felony offense that carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.