A federal grand jury indicted the owner and operator of the Internet business HK Parts for selling guns without a license and a slew of other crimes in the District of Utah, according to documents released this week by the Department of Justice.
On Aug. 22, Adam Michael Webber, of Salt Lake City, was charged with one count of dealing firearms without a license, one count of smuggling goods from the United States and six counts of filing false tax returns.
Webber started HK Parts in 2003, according to his website. Court and state documents reveal that he registered it as a business in the state of Utah in 2007. The site sells parts, accessories and swag exclusively for Heckler & Koch products, but not guns.
Since Webber faces criminal charges, neither his attorney nor the Justice Department would comment on details about the case, but Webber’s former attorney, who specializes in self-defense and gun laws, Mitch Vilos, was able to shed light on the legal quagmire.
“Not only does this indictment come from a vague and confusing law, it also arises from a vague agreement forced upon (Webber) under duress,” Vilos said.
According to the indictment, when Webber established the business in 2007 he also signed a stipulated settlement agreement — often used to settle a dispute and simplify or shorten litigation — with the U.S. government in which he agreed to never deal in firearms. However, from 2007 to 2012, the DOJ claims he violated that agreement.
“The ATF pressured him to never be an FFL,” Vilos said and explained that early on in his “part-time parts business,” Webber had legally purchased a machine gun. Some time later a buyer came a long, so Webber tried to sell it through a dealer licensed to transfer the gun, but unintentionally failed to follow the exact clerical steps which put him on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive’s radar. Agents confronted Webber about the transaction and threatened prosecution. Due to personal and financial issues at the time, he accepted the deal.
Vilos contends Webber started HK Parts by selling parts out of his house as a hobby, eventually transformed it into a business and later expanded with partners who did have a federal firearms license, but Webber never sold guns or acted as an FFL.
“He just simply partnered with people (who could sell guns) and he figured it was ok because the agreement doesn’t say he couldn’t partner — he was helping finance the business,” Vilos said.
Vilos added those partners had gotten high marks by ATF investigators following routine inventory checks required of FFLs.
“Technically I don’t think he’s violated that agreement. I think they’re being very expansive with their interpretation of the law,” Vilos said.
Vilos sees this case as ATF agents going after easy arrests. “These agents will spend time on cases like this because there’s absolutely no danger to them,” he said.
If convicted, Webber faces up to 33 years in prison and possible fines. A trial has not been scheduled.