Feds cracking down on knockoff NFL jersey operation stunned to find man stockpiling weapons

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
Yahoo News

Federal agents investigating a man suspected of selling knockoff NFL jerseys late last year stumbled upon what the Cleveland Plain Dealer called "one of the most most perplexing seizures of weapons in Ohio" history: an arsenal of 18 guns — including three assault rifles, three 9mm handguns and four shotguns — and more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition.

The man, Richard Schmidt, was arrested in December, and pleaded guilty to federal gun and counterfeiting charges in July. Sentencing is slated for October.

“I can’t tell you how he got all those guns and ammunition,” U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach told the Plain Dealer. “It’s not that I won’t tell you; it’s that I can’t. This is somebody who should never have had one gun, one bullet. But he had an entire arsenal.”

According to an the inventory of seized items by investigators, the 48-year-old also had a "VHS tape of a national meeting of the National Socialist Movement and stickers from the National Alliance" and "notes with the names of Jewish and NAACP leaders in Detroit."

"For a convicted violent felon to amass an arsenal with 40,000 rounds of ammunition with no red flags popping up is problematic," Scott Kaufman, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, told the newspaper. "No matter where you stand on the gun issue, it makes you wonder. The moment I saw my name in this guy's notebook, I freaked out."

But according to Schmidt's attorney Edward Bryan, he's merely a "survivalist" and hoarder who has been known to stockpile food and gasoline for an apocalyptic event.

"He believes that the world could turn upside down in a day, and, quite frankly, it feels that way sometimes,'' Bryan said. "He's an engaging person who is very well-read and studies various cultures. It's the government's MO to create monsters out of some of the people it prosecutes. And Rick Schmidt is not a monster.''

"He had no intent to cause anyone harm," Bryan continued. "His collection of firearms and ammunition was similar to his collection of other items. He believes that our society may collapse one day, and he had to be prepared for what would happen."

He is, however, a convicted killer.

Schmidt was found guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of a 20-year-old, and served 13 years in prison.

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