Federal agents who were investigating an Ohio man for selling knockoff NFL jerseys ended up discovering a lot more than they had bargained for.
When authorities searched the sports memorabilia store that Richard Schmidt had been running out of a mall, they found 18 guns, including three assault rifles, three 9mm handguns and four shotguns. They also recovered more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition and a bullet-proof vest. Schmidt is a convicted felon and cannot possess any weapons under federal law.
In addition to the weapons, Schmidt also had notes with the names of Jewish and NAACP leaders in Detroit and a VHS tape of a national meeting of the National Socialist Movement. Investigators believe those discoveries could reveal a possible link between Schmidt and white supremacist groups.
Scott Kaufman, the chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, was on one of Schmidt’s lists.
"For a convicted violent felon to amass an arsenal with 40,000 rounds of ammunition with no red flags popping up is problematic,'' Kaufman said. "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.''
Schmidt pleaded guilty to federal gun and counterfeiting charges in July. Sentencing is set for October, Yahoo News reported.
“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.”
Schmidt's attorney, Edward Bryan, said his client is a "survivalist" and downplayed the notion that he is violent.
"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. 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."