Gun dealer from Mount Airy convicted, may face prison

Man, 55, let child sleep near loaded weapons

dozens of firearms seized

April 29, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Mount Airy gun dealer Amir H. Tabassi was found guilty by a jury last night of keeping loaded weapons in his home within arm's reach of a sleeping 12-year-old girl.

Jurors deliberated three hours after a three-day trial in Carroll County Circuit Court before returning the verdict against Tabassi, 55 - convicting him on most of the charges lodged by state police after officers with a search warrant seized 111 weapons and firearm accessories at his home Aug. 5.

State police testified during the trial that they found unsecured weapons on a bed and in closets, dresser drawers and a duffel bag. Some of the guns were loaded.

Tabassi, of the 5000 block of Ridge Road, had been charged with 11 counts of allowing a child access to loaded firearms, one count of reckless endangerment and one count of carrying a weapon in a vehicle - all misdemeanors.

The six women and six men on the jury began deliberating just before 5 p.m. and returned guilty verdicts on every charge except transporting a weapon in a vehicle.

Among the weapons Tabassi kept in the same room as the child were a 9 mm H&K MP5 submachine gun, a Taurus PT25 semiautomatic pistol and a .40-caliber Glock 23, which was found on the bed where she was sleeping.

He could receive up to five years in jail for the reckless endangerment charges. The child access charges carry a $1,000 fine each.

Retired Prince George's County Circuit Judge Vincent J. Femia, who presided over the trial, ordered a pre-sentence investigation but did not schedule a sentencing hearing, pending another trial Tabassi faces on reckless endangerment charges. That also has yet to be scheduled.

Tabassi sighed and frowned as the jury forewoman read the verdicts. His attorneys and prosecutors declined to comment.

But a woman who is engaged in a legal battle with Tabassi over visitation rights involving their two young children smiled.

"Justice has finally been done," said Michiko Brand, who lived with Tabassi for six years and had been subpoenaed by prosecutors at her home in Tennessee.

Standing with her young son and daughter at the back of the courtroom, Brand said she had always been apprehensive about Tabassi and the guns. "I'm not surprised at the charges, but I am thrilled at the outcome."

In testimony, Tabassi explained why the house, described by state troopers as a "complete mess," was cluttered with clothes, toys and guns. He said the house was infested with fleas; he had lost his lease on a gun store in Hagerstown and was moving his inventory to his home, and also packing guns for a firearms training session in Tennessee.

Tabassi, testifying in his defense, said that he carried loaded firearms with what he believed was a valid permit. State police said the permit had expired. State police also seized a loaded Glock Model 27 handgun from the man's red 1992 Mazda Protege the day he was arrested.

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