Federal charges follow raids at gun shops 12/16/03 They are the culmination of a three-year investigation. By: Laurie Patton, KY3 News SPRINGFIELD -- Federal law officers were completing a long investigation of firearms violations when they led raids at three businesses on Tuesday morning. By the end of the day, U.S. attorneys had formally charged five people with connections to the businesses. Larry Scott, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said about 100 federal and local officers executed search warrants, which were the result of a three-year investigation. The raids were at Gunsmoke Gun and Pawn, 4305 W. Chestnut Expressway, a Westley Richards rifle dealership... According to court records, a BATFE agent accused John Robert Francis of being the true manager of the Westley Richards Agency and also participates in the management of Gunsmoke Gun and Pawn. In doing so, Bob Francis possesses all the firearms in the inventory of both businesses and frequently handles and controls the firearms. Francis can't legally sell firearms, or work in a business that sells firearms, because he pleaded guilty in 1986 to conspiracy to deal firearms without a license. In the court records, the BATFE agent says, between September 2002 and this month, a confidential informant met or talked with Bob Francis about 30 times (and recorded at least 26 of the meetings) about gun sales and the operations of the businesses on Chestnut. Bob Francis is charged with the illegal sale of firearms. City business records show Gunsmoke Gun and Pawn and the Westley Richards dealership are licensed to Bob Francis' wife, Nancy Francis.
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The ATF continued its investigation throughout 2003 when federal agents executed search warrants on both the WRA and the adjacent pawn shop. The agents seized 211 high-end firearms from WRA's vault
and 408 firearms from the pawn shop.