By Torsten Ove
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
GREENSBURG, Pa. — Curt P. Radovich showed up at meetings with customers at Greensburg hotels last month carrying bags of guns for sale and saying he could always get more.
He could, too, because he had more than 400 at his house in Butler, according to federal agents who, along with an informant with a felony record, posed as those customers.
Yesterday, agents and police descended on Mr. Radovich's house at 406 N. Sixth Ave. and seized 410 weapons, including assault-style rifles and semiautomatic pistols.
It was one of the largest gun seizures ever in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Radovich, 39, an employee of Bearing Service Co. and the father of two teenage daughters, was charged in U.S. District Court with dealing weapons without a license, knowingly selling guns to a felon and possession of guns by a felon.
The police informant has a 1991 felony conviction for aggravated assault in Butler County which precludes him from owning guns. Under federal law, felons can't have firearms and face automatic five-year prison sentences if convicted of possessing them.
Mr. Radovich was released on an unsecured $10,000 bond after appearing before a magistrate and faces a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.
Under the terms of his release, he was ordered not to have contact with any of his customers, many of whom the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives suspects are also felons who can't get guns legally.
The ATF, state police and Pittsburgh police are investigating others who may have bought weapons from Mr. Radovich in Pittsburgh and throughout Western Pennsylvania.
According to an ATF affidavit, Mr. Radovich repeatedly sold guns to the confidential informant and the undercover officers despite being told that the informant was a felon.
In court, Mr. Radovich's sister said his family didn't know anything about the charges.
"I just thought he was a collector," she said.
But the affidavit indicates he was an unlicensed dealer who didn't care who bought from him.
"Radovich explained that he goes to gun shows and buys guns and people often don't care about paperwork," wrote ATF Agent Theodore Hoover. "He further advised that his guns are not registered to anyone."
The agents and the informant first met with Mr. Radovich on Jan. 10 in Greensburg. Mr. Radovich showed up in a minivan and brought a plastic grocery bag filled with guns.
During the meeting, the informant said he was felon.
"Nevertheless," the affidavit says, "Radovich then sold the CI [confidential informant] and one of the officers each a firearm."
He said he had another pistol to sell, and on Jan. 15, called the informant to say it was available. He also said he could bring a few more guns for the customers to examine.
At a second meeting, on Jan. 17, according to the affidavit, he "immediately began pulling handguns out of the bag and passing them around the room for inspection."
The informant told him again that he had a felony record, but Mr. Radovich sold him and the officers guns anyway and told them "I got more at home," explaining that he buys, sells and trades at gun shows.
On Jan. 24, the affidavit says, Mr. Radovich told the informant he had 10 more guns for sale. A week later, agents watched as Mr. Radovich left his house with bags of guns and packed them into his minivan.
That evening, he showed up at another meeting in Greensburg with the weapons and once again said he had more at home, including an SKS assault rifle.
Based on all of the undercover deals, authorities had enough evidence to request a search warrant. A dozen agents and police then raided the house yesterday at about 6 a.m.
It took them most of the morning to count and catalog the arsenal.
Copyright 2008 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pa. police seize 410 weapons from suspect's home