Editor's Note: On April 19, 2012, all charges against Michael Marinello and South Shore Sportsman, Inc., were dismissed by Judge F. Ricigliano in First District Court, Nassau County.
Five Nassau County gun shop owners –– including an East Meadow resident who owns a shop in Merrick and a Bellmore resident who owns shops in New Hyde Park and Seaford –– have been arrested and charged with illegally selling assault weapons, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced on Thursday.
The arrests came after a 10-month undercover investigation by the District Attorney’s Office and the New York State Police, which resulted in the arrest of four storeowners and five of their employees, Rice said at a news conference in Mineola.
Among those arrested were Martin Tretola, 55, of Bellmore, owner of T & T Tactical in New Hyde Park and T & T Gunnery in Seaford; Michael Marinello, 41, of East Meadow, owner of South Shore Sportsman in Merrick; Andrew Chernoff, 50, of Malverne, owner of Coliseum Gun Traders LTD in Uniondale; and Mark Wroobel, 40, of Smithtown, owner of Hunter Sports in Massapequa.
“The nine men arrested today were openly breaking the law, making a practice of putting profits before the safety of our citizens and flooding our streets with dangerous assault weapons,” said Rice.
The district attorney said that state police officers and county investigators executed search warrants on the five gun shops on Feb. 16, ordering them to cease distribution of illegal assault weapons that were for sale.
According to Rice, the storeowners were temporarily modifying the guns so that they lacked the required qualifications of an assault weapon, but made the modifications reversible, thereby making them assault weapons.
"Under New York state law, only police officers, peace officers and duly authorized members of the military are legally permitted to possess assault rifles,” said Rice.
Throughout the 10-month probe, undercover police officers entered the stores under the pretext of civilians wanting to purchase guns. Rice showed a video of one instance in which an undercover policeman filmed a conversation with Tretola, inside of one of his stores, where he demonstrated to the officer how to remove the temporary pin from the fixed stock of the gun, making it collapsible –– and illegal.