Adam Webber, the brain behind online gun parts site HK Parts, was sentenced to four years in prison recently. Despite pleas from family and friends, the judge was unmoved by a speech given by Webber apologizing for his actions.
U.S. District Judge Dee Benson was unmoved by a crestfallen apology from a Salt Lake County businessman on Thursday.
“I think deceit is one of his most apparent characteristics. I’m not even sure about the speech he gave me today,” Benson said of the apology before sentencing 40-year-old Adam Michael Webber on one count of dealing firearms without a license and five counts of tax fraud.
He sentenced Webber to four years in a federal prison and a $100,000 fine, shocking family and friends who sat behind the defendant in the courtroom to offer their support. They had submitted letters calling Webber generous and charitable. Those letters, Benson said, painted a picture inconsistent with the person he became acquainted with over the past three years.
Webber was convicted by a jury last year of selling firearms without a license and tax fraud. Initially, he had also been accused of smuggling and gun trafficking. Those counts were thrown out because of what the judge said were mistakes made by the prosecution.
And, after the conviction, Benson himself made an error in the jury instructions, the judge said Thursday, noting that he granted Webber a new trial on the count of dealing in firearms without a license. In May, however, Webber pleaded guilty to the charge.
Prosecutors initially said Webber had acquired more than 2,000 firearms between 2008 and 2012 to be sold. After the plea deal, the number was adjusted down to “well over 200” firearms, court documents state. Federal investigators seized 369 firearms from a warehouse and 11 from Webber’s home, according to court documents.
In 2007, Webber and his brother had agreed to never apply for a federal firearms license or deal in weapons. The agreement was part of a civil settlement with the U.S. government after federal agents seized several firearms that belonged to Webber in 2005.
The same year, Webber operated HK Parts, an online market for unregulated firearm parts and accessories, out of the basement of his Rose Park home. In 2008, he added firearms to the product line, according to prosecutors. In addition to selling firearms online, he met with customers in a parking lot to sell guns, according to court documents.
The sentence exceeded what the prosecution was asking for in the case.
No doubt this has been difficult for Webber’s loved ones. This also has a negative impact on the firearms community as a whole, since stories like this are what people think of when they imagine the average gun dealer.
Or, in this case, gun parts dealer.
Regardless, this has got to be difficult for those who care about Webber. However, I’ll add that regardless of how you feel about gun laws or the federal government, you either follow the rules or deal with the repercussions. That’s just how it is. Failure to do that can and probably will result in prison time…as well as losing your Second Amendment rights.
Is it worth it?
While his attorney maintains that less than two percent of Webber’s revenue came from firearm sales, that doesn’t really help. In fact, it makes it that much more stupid. Why risk your livelihood for such paltry returns?
Either way, this is over and Mr. Webber will have a while to consider the error of his ways.