Feb 20, 2020 6:01 PM

Dealer who sold weapon used in KC killing to stop selling guns

Posted Feb 20, 2020 6:01 PM
Kansas City Fire Captain James Samuels (L) allegedly sold guns to felons, including one used in a 2016 murder. Photo shows Samuels during a recognition event courtesy Greater Kansas City Firefighter's Assn. 
Kansas City Fire Captain James Samuels (L) allegedly sold guns to felons, including one used in a 2016 murder. Photo shows Samuels during a recognition event courtesy Greater Kansas City Firefighter's Assn. 

KANSAS CITY (AP) —  A firearms dealer who sold a gun used in a deadly Kansas City shooting will stop selling guns as part of a settlement with the parents of the victim.

Green Tip Arms also agreed to surrender its federal firearms license to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives under the agreement that a Jackson County judge approved Tuesday.

Alvino and Beverly Crawford filed the wrongful death lawsuit in June in Jackson County Circuit Court on behalf of their son, Alvino Dwight Crawford Jr. The suit alleged that Green Tip Arms had reason to be suspicious that a frequent customer, James Samuels, was an unlicensed gun dealer. One of the weapons was used to kill Crawford two months after it was purchased in 2016.

The lawsuit accused Jimenez Arms, the manufacturer of the gun, of aiding and abetting the gun trafficking ring. The lawsuit did not say how the weapon moved to Green Tip Arms. Jimenez Arms, which filed for bankruptcy this month, was not part of the settlement.

“Dwight’s life was precious and priceless, and Green Tips Arms fell short of a moral compass about the potential impact of its decisions," Crawford's parents said in a written statement. “To protect other families from experiencing the enduring pain of loss as we have, we hope this action conveys a message to other gun dealers who chose to conduct business irresponsibly and without regard for human life.”

Michael Brown, an attorney for Green Tip Arms, originally based in Missouri but now based in Arizona, declined to comment.

Lawyers with Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, an umbrella group of gun control advocacy organizations funded by billionaire presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, helped to represent Crawford's family.

Jerome Walker, 41, and Devon Davis, who was 16 at the time, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the killing. Prosecutors alleged that Walker struck Crawford with a baseball bat and, as Crawford stumbled away, Davis shot and killed him.

Samuels, a former fire captain who is accused of facilitating the sale of the gun used in Crawford's killing, faces a June trial on charges that he knowingly supplied weapons to felons.

Joe Picerno, an attorney for Samuels, said Thursday that his client has entered a not guilty plea and “denies that he did any wrongdoing or anything illegal."

The settlement with Green Tip Arms was reached less than a month after Kansas City and Everyytown filed a lawsuit alleging that several businesses and individuals trafficked firearms in the region while willfully ignoring evidence that the guns were being sold illegally.

The lawsuit, which Everytown said was the first of its kind filed in 10 years, alleges that the gun trafficking created a public nuisance in Kansas City, which has one of the highest homicide rates in the U.S. That suit also named Jimenez Arms.

Joseph Roper, an attorney for Jimenez, didn't immediately return a phone message.

Continue Reading Little Apple Post
Feb 20, 2020 6:01 PM
Plaintiffs' attorneys take aim at Boy Scouts' `dark history'
The Quivira Council  Scout offices in Wichita google image

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Like millions of other Americans in the 1950s and ’60s, Duane Ruth-Heffelbower spent his formative years learning to tie knots, build campfires and pitch tents with the Boy Scouts, whose wholesome, God-fearing reputation was burnished by Normal Rockwell’s magazine-cover paintings of fresh-faced Scouts, brave, courteous and cheerful.

Read the Quivira Scout Council's statement on the National Council Chapter 11 Bankruptcy here

Though he’s no longer involved in Scouting, the 70-year-old Mennonite minister from Fresno, California, has followed the slow deterioration of the Boy Scouts of America from afar and cringes to think what this week’s bankruptcy filing over a blizzard of sex-abuse lawsuits might mean for an organization already grappling with a steep decline in membership.

“It’s really sad. I’m afraid that people are going to be more skeptical than they were once about the organization and will be more inclined to look for other alternatives to Scouting,” said Ruth-Heffelbower, who grew up in Kansas. “Theses days there are so many things pulling at kids.”

With its finances and its vaunted reputation for moral rectitude damaged by scandal, the Scouts resorted to Chapter 11 bankruptcy Tuesday in hopes of pulling through the crisis by setting up a victims’ compensation fund for thousands of men who were molested as boys by Scout leaders over the decades.

Boy Scout uniforms displayed in the retail store at the headquarters for the French Creek Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Summit Township, Erie County, Pa. (Christopher Millette/Erie Times-News via AP)

The fund could top $1 billion, but to raise the money, the national organization could be forced to sell some of its real estate holdings, which include its headquarters in Irving, Texas, and a huge campground in New Mexico.

The bankruptcy case began Wednesday with a court hearing in Wilmington, Delaware, where attorneys for victims made clear they will also go after campsites and other properties owned by the Boy Scouts’ 261 local councils, and will also demand access to internal files containing abusers’ names.

“Here is where we get the story, the dark history of the Boy Scouts. Will those be in the database?” asked plaintiffs’ attorney James Stang, a veteran of several Roman Catholic diocese bankruptcies.

While some of the files on abusers have been released as the result of previous litigation, victims‘ attorney Michael Finnegan said thousands of names have still not been disclosed.

“Those names should be made public” so that communities are informed and children made safe, Finnegan said.

The local councils, which run day-to-day operations for local troops, were not included in the bankruptcy filing and are considered by the Boy Scouts of America to be legally separate entities.

Paul Mones, a Los Angeles attorney representing several alleged victims, predicted a “huge fight” over the locally held assets, adding that their value easily exceeds $100 million.

“That independence is on paper only,” Mones said of the local councils, adding that the Boy Scouts of America is a “vertically integrated corporation” that exercises considerable influence over the local councils.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein did not immediately rule on access to the files or how the property of the local councils will be treated.

Another battle is taking shape over what deadline the court will set for victims to file claims for compensation. Victims’ attorneys chafed at the notion of an 80-day deadline, saying men who have suffered need more time.

Stang said the victims have experienced “conscience-shaking” trauma and would be forced to revisit painful memories from childhood in documenting their claims.

“These are not 60-year-old men filling out their claim forms,” he said. “These are 8-year-old children filling out the claim forms.”

Paul Mones, attorney for those claiming molestation by scoutmasters or other scout leaders decades ago, discusses the filing for bankruptcy by the Boy Scouts of America during for an interview. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Mones called 80 days “wholly insufficient” and said that since the bankruptcy filing lawyers have been fielding calls from “confused, upset and angry men.”

Boy Scouts officials insist that nothing will change for young Scouts and their families, assuring them that local councils are “legally separate, distinct and financially independent from the national organization.” The organization also provided a recommended script for parents trying to explain to their children what’s happening.

The bottom line: “There’s nothing to be worried about. A Scout is always prepared, and the BSA is well-prepared.”

George Kain III, a longtime scoutmaster in York, Pennsylvania, said he doesn’t think bankruptcy will have a huge effect on local Scouting organizations. Kain, a retired lawyer who has been with the Scouts for 60 years, said plaintiffs’ lawyers would have to show a connection between the alleged abuse and a local council’s assets.

“There may well be situations where that’s the case, but at the moment we’re not there yet,” Kain said. “I think that Scouting as the rank-and-file Scouts know it will continue.”

For a variety of reasons, the number of youths taking part in Scouting has dropped below 2 million, down from a peak of more than 4 million during the 1970s.

Gal Witmer of York, Pennsylvania, who has two children in Scouting — her 12-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter — said she is optimistic the organization will survive bankruptcy and applauded it for “taking accountability.”

“It’s something they had to do to make things right,” Witmer said.

Even with the Scouts recently raising the annual membership fee by more than 80% to $66, Witmer said Scouting’s costs are quite reasonable compared with those of sports and other activities. Witmer, who was a den leader for her son and is now doing the same for her daughter, said leaders are vetted and trained thoroughly in abuse prevention.

“The training is excellent. To me, it feels very safe. If anything were to happen, they are so on top of it,” Witmer said. “It’s drilled into everyone, never be alone with a child.”

John Milton Peterson III, a researcher and self-defense instructor who credits his adult success to the lessons he learned as a Boy Scout in Kentucky decades ago, said it upsets him that attorneys are targeting the organization rather than the “perverted” abusers.

“It’s like sinking a battleship just to fix a broken part,” Peterson said. “We can all see that really people are just out to destroy it. ... This is a benevolent organization that helped me a lot. It’s a sad thing to see agenda-driven and greedy people twisting this.”