Smith & Wesson official arrested in bribery sting

22 are accused in arms-sale scheme

Associated Press / January 22, 2010

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SPRINGFIELD - A top Smith & Wesson executive is among 22 people accused of trying to bribe an African government to get part of a multimillion-dollar deal to outfit its presidential guard.

Amaro Goncalves, 49, vice president of sales for the gun maker, which is based in Springfield. The other defendants were arrested Monday in Las Vegas while attending a trade show.

Goncalves and the other executives from various arms and military suppliers are charged with violating the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and conspiracy to launder money. Federal prosecutors say the charges followed an undercover sting lasting more than two years.

The defendants allegedly agreed to pay an illegal 20 percent commission to a sales agent they believed represented the defense minister of an unnamed African country. The sales agent was actually an undercover FBI agent, and no defense minister was involved.

According to the indictment, the 22 defendants created two price quotations: one with the actual price of the products and one with illegal commissions added as bribes for the country’s defense minister and the sales agent.

The indictment alleges that Goncalves arranged an initial sale of 25 handguns for $12,495 and paid the commission.

Then, the indictment says, he met four months later with someone he believed was a sales agent for the African country and struck another deal for 1,800 more pistols that also included the 20 percent extra.

Also charged are executives and employees of companies in Arkansas, Virginia, Florida, California, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, as well as companies in the United Kingdom and Israel.

In Las Vegas, word of the arrests came as a surprise to organizers of the 2010 Shooting, Hunting & Outdoor Trade Show, which the defendants were in town to attend. Mark Thomas - marketing and communications manager for the show host, the National Shooting Sports Foundation of Newtown, Conn. - referred questions to the FBI and Justice Department.

Goncalves’ status with Smith & Wesson was unclear yesterday. Messages were left for Goncalves’ attorney, Robert Draskovich Jr., and for Smith & Wesson.