PORTLAND - A Weston couple was convicted in a federal jury trial Monday of illegally dealing firearms in Oregon and Washington after prosecutors argued that the two sold more than 1,000 new and used firearms without a license at some 50 gun shows.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Weinhouse said this morning that "the jury found they engaged in the business of dealing firearms without a license."
He said Viktor Mascak, 65, was found guilty of four charges: dealing firearms without a license in Oregon and in Washington, and of selling to out-of-state residents in Oregon and in Washington. Mascak's girlfriend, Beatrice "Jo" Lowe, 61, was convicted of the three of those same charges; she was acquitted of dealing firearms without a license in Washington.
The trial, which came after a three-year investigation, lasted one week before Judge Anna Brown in federal court. The prosecution called 25 witnesses and presented 70 exhibits.
Mascak and Lowe were accused of dealing and selling more than 1,000 firearms without a mandatory federal firearms license from 1996 to 2001. They were originally arrested in early January 2002 and first appeared in court that month.
Mascak's son, Jaime Mascak, pleaded guilty in January 2003 of "being a federal firearms dealer who failed to make or maintain appropriate records" of his dealings, Weinhouse said. Jaime Mascak was called to testify by the government during his father's trial.
"They did some real damage to society," Weinhouse said. "They sold all the weapons without any background checks, and so when some of the weapons were found at crime scenes, we could not trace them back to the person who may have committed the crime using that weapon."
He said the conviction should send a message to people dealing without a license and that those with federal firearms licenses "will probably appreciate this, because this undermines those who are dealing legitimately."
Mascak and his son, and Lowe, also were charged in Yakima, but the judge there moved the charges to Portland to be consolidated for federal prosecution, and so the trials for Mascak and Lowe could be combined.
Weinhouse said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms took a lot of heat during this case, due to what he referred to as "biased media coverage." ATF agents conducted most of the investigation and "should be credited for the great work they did," he added.
There are about 2,000 licensed firearms dealers in Oregon who pay $200 per year to maintain their license.
Mascak and Lowe are scheduled to be sentenced April 2 and will remain free until then. Weinhouse said they could face up to five years in prison for each charge. Federal sentencing guidelines call for less than the maximum.
There have been no developments regarding a lawsuit Viktor Mascak filed last March seeking $360,000 from nine of the witnesses who testified in his trial. The lawsuit alleges the defendants knowingly made false and defamatory statements implying that Mascak was committing federal firearms crimes. The lawsuit was filed in Umatilla County Circuit Court.