Suspect asks for seized guns

Request will be part of pretrial hearing today

Police confiscated 87 firearms

Man accused of leaving loaded weapons near girl

Carroll County

December 22, 2003|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Four months after police seized more than 80 weapons, including several machine guns, from a Carroll County firearms dealer's home, the man is asking for many of his guns back.

Amir H. Tabassi, who was charged after police said they found an unregistered, loaded machine gun near a sleeping 12-year-old girl in his Mount Airy home, is due in court today to argue pretrial motions, which include his request that dozens of the seized weapons be returned to him.

Tabassi filed a motion this month to require authorities to return seized weapons and computers, saying they were beyond the scope of the search warrant served by police in August at his home. Tabassi said that he operates a gun dealership from his home and is in lawful possession of the weapons.

Although Tabassi helped police break up a murder plot by purported cultists in 2001, troopers targeted him in July after being tipped off that he may have been in possession of an unregistered machine gun, police have said. When state police served the search warrant at his house, they said they found 17 unregistered machine guns -- including two loaded machine guns found next to the girl.

Eighty-seven weapons were seized from Tabassi's home, authorities said. An inventory list compiled by state police shows a variety of firearms, including handguns, rifles, semiautomatic weapons and shotguns.

Among the items that Tabassi wants back are an H&K submachine gun, a .40-caliber Glock handgun, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, a Colt Combat Commander semiautomatic pistol, a .22-caliber Derringer and a Rossi .357-caliber Magnum.

Tabassi, 55, of the 5400 block of Ridge Road was charged in August with three misdemeanors: possession of an unregistered machine gun, allowing an unsupervised minor access to a loaded firearm and carrying a loaded firearm.

State police confirmed that Tabassi's basement is licensed as a gun dealership and that he has held a firearms dealer license since 1993. But they also said that machine guns found at his split-level home were unregistered and unsecured. In a court hearing after his arrest, Tabassi said he had done business with the state police. The state police denied having done business with him.

Tabassi, who was released on $25,000 bail to await trial, has said the charges were a result of racial discrimination. Tabassi, a U.S. citizen, was born in Iran.

Tabassi is being represented by Frederick attorney Eric W. Schaffer, who had no comment on the hearing scheduled for this morning before Carroll County Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr.

Assistant Attorney General Brian L. DeLeonardo has opposed Tabassi's request for the guns, saying that everything seized by police was within the boundaries of the search warrant. Although the warrant lists only machine guns as evidence that could be seized, DeLeonardo said in a court filing that state police "were still legally justified and permitted to seize the items under the Plain View Doctrine as the troopers had probable cause to believe the remaining items were evidence of" crimes.

DeLeonardo specifically noted the discovery of two loaded handguns and two machine guns allegedly on and beside a bed on which the girl, who is not related to Tabassi, was sleeping.

Tabassi could be sentenced to 10 years in prison, if convicted, for each illegally possessed gun.

Tabassi was in the news in 2001 after leading police to a murder conspiracy involving Scott Caruthers and other members of Beta Dominion Xenophilia, a Carroll County group that reputedly believed Caruthers was a space alien and a messiah who would save followers from catastrophic "Earth changes."

Tabassi, a former bodyguard for Caruthers, went to state police after he said group members solicited him to commit the slayings. Five group members, including Caruthers, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to kill "enemies" of the group.

Police said Tabassi had been under investigation by the firearms enforcement section of the state police since early July. State police took him to the Westminster barracks for questioning Aug. 5.

According to court documents, Tabassi thought he was being considered as a confidential informant to the state police for terrorist and drug investigations. After serving Tabassi with a search warrant on his 1992 Mazda Protege, state police found a loaded .40-caliber Glock pistol. Tabassi had a Maryland permit to carry a handgun, but it had expired, police said.

State police took Tabassi back to his home, where they served another search warrant, state police said.

Tabassi's trial is scheduled for Jan. 12.

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