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Thread: Do You Own Illegal Wood?

  1. #1

    Do You Own Illegal Wood?

    I don't know if anyone here saw this story:
    The Gibson Guitar factories and offices were raided by armed Federal agents this past week in Nashville and Memphis.

    The case involved an alleged violation of the Lacey act, which regulates the importation of any plant of animal material. Supposedly, Gibson possessed some wood that was in violation of an Indian law.
    Among other things, the mere possession of prohibited material can justify the seizure and forfeiture of the material, even if it is only a small part of a larger item. (A guitar may contain, for example, a rosewood neck.) The "offender risks fines, and in large enough quantity it may result in a felony.

    The Beginning Woodworker blog has more on this story.

  2. #2
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    Seems it would be difficult for the police to prove the material was imported after the ban took effect. For example, ivory is prohibited but old ivory that was owned prior to the ban is legal. Otherwise, all old pianos would be seized.

    The police would have to have evidence that the actual item was brought into the country after the ban on that specific material.

    Mike
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  3. #3
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    Have to be careful here to not go off on a political toot.
    Mere possession can be prosecuted.
    I have a very dear friend (honorable American, war hero) [his name is Mike] who will be facing sentencing tomorrow, in Federal court for a felony conviction of "possession" of prohibited firearms. The girl friend of a friend of Mike's got in trouble with the Feds. She stored some "stuff" in an empty shed at Mike's place. He had no idea what was in the shed. Long story short: he was convicted for possession of the illegal firearms.
    Be careful out there.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  4. #4
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    Sorry to hear about your friend Frank. Please post the result of his sentencing. Obviously sounds like a huge miscarriage of justice. How does one prove he had no knowledge of something in his "possession"?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ken werner View Post
    Sorry to hear about your friend Frank. Please post the result of his sentencing. Obviously sounds like a huge miscarriage of justice. How does one prove he had no knowledge of something in his "possession"?
    Bingo. It is impossible to prove a negative.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson
    Seems it would be difficult for the police to prove the material was imported after the ban took effect. For example, ivory is prohibited but old ivory that was owned prior to the ban is legal. Otherwise, all old pianos would be seized.

    The police would have to have evidence that the actual item was brought into the country after the ban on that specific material.
    You would think that would be the case. I don't think they are actively searching out old instruments, but apparently it's an issue if you travel internationally and try to bring it in through customs. Or at least a lot of musicians are worried about it.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/201...ars-away.shtml


    Consider the recent experience of Pascal Vieillard, whose Atlanta-area company, A-440 Pianos, imported several antique Bösendorfers. Mr. Vieillard asked officials at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species how to fill out the correct paperwork—which simply encouraged them to alert U.S. Customs to give his shipment added scrutiny.

    There was never any question that the instruments were old enough to have grandfathered ivory keys. But Mr. Vieillard didn't have his paperwork straight when two-dozen federal agents came calling.

    Facing criminal charges that might have put him in prison for years, Mr. Vieillard pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of violating the Lacey Act, and was handed a $17,500 fine and three years probation.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
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  7. #7
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    well now we know how to set up some friends or enemies
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Dowell View Post
    You would think that would be the case. I don't think they are actively searching out old instruments, but apparently it's an issue if you travel internationally and try to bring it in through customs. Or at least a lot of musicians are worried about it.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/201...ars-away.shtml
    My comment was based on ownership of material within the US. I don't know the laws regarding international shipping of banned material.

    Within the US, if a material was legal earlier, the authorities would have to prove that the material was obtained from some international source after the ban. It would be legal to sell or otherwise transfer the material within the US.

    Mike
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  9. #9
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    The point is that even if you owned say a guitar in the us and didn't have adequate paper work and traveled with it outside the US, upon re-entry, if you didn't have all the proper paperwork, they could still cause all kinds of problems for you...
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    Have to be careful here to not go off on a political toot.
    Mere possession can be prosecuted.
    I have a very dear friend (honorable American, war hero) [his name is Mike] who will be facing sentencing tomorrow, in Federal court for a felony conviction of "possession" of prohibited firearms. The girl friend of a friend of Mike's got in trouble with the Feds. She stored some "stuff" in an empty shed at Mike's place. He had no idea what was in the shed. Long story short: he was convicted for possession of the illegal firearms.
    Be careful out there.
    The problem is that the law looks at the situation as you either knew, or should have known. If they didn't treat it that way, everyone caught storing illegal materials would simply claim they didn't know the materials were there.

    The shed was on his property, under his control, so he should have known what was put into it or he should have found the materials after they were left there.

    I'm pretty sure he could avoid prosecution if his female friend will testify that she put the weapons in the shed without his knowledge and permission, BUT then he'd have to show that he never went into that shed. If the weapons were there for just a few days, he might be able to do that. If they were left there for months, he's going to have a hard time trying to convince a jury that he never went into the shed. And, of course, the female friend would be pleading guilty to possession of illegal firearms if she so testified - so she may not be willing to do that - letting Mike hang out to dry.

    Mike

    [And, yes, mere possession of certain materials can be illegal. Explosives could be one, and possession of certain weapons, especially without proper papers, is definitely illegal. Child pornography is another example.]
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 08-29-2011 at 05:24 PM.
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

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