Saying that both his divorce and a 30 percent reduction in income from his cardiology practice had taken a financial toll, a once-successful cardiologist told a federal judge Monday that he had amassed about $100,000 worth of guns as inventory for a gun shop he planned to open.
Rather than pursuing his dream of becoming a firearms dealer, Barry DeRan, 55, of Lambertville was reminded by U.S. District Court Judge James Carr that he may never possess a firearm again. Judge Carr ordered DeRan to spend six months in a halfway house and pay a $900 assessment. He placed DeRan on supervised release for two years.
DeRan, who had faced 24 to 30 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiracy and eight counts of aiding and abetting making false statements in the acquisition of firearms. He admitted that during the year he was the subject of a civil protection order, purchased guns from an Internet dealer, paid for them with his own credit card, had them shipped to a gun dealer in Waterville, then had a member of his office staff, Lisa Gazda, pretend to be the buyer.
Before his sentence was imposed Monday, three witnesses, including DeRan and Ms. Gazda, were called to clarify where the guns were stored while DeRan was under the protection order from August, 2010, to August, 2011.
DeRan said Monday that firearms were “a hobby or avocation of mine” since his youth and that he began purchasing a variety of long guns and handguns in the early 1990s, storing them in his attic and basement. He said the federal firearms dealer license he applied for arrived in the mail the day of the raid, Feb. 29, 2012.
“Truthfully, I don’t like shooting them as much as I like working on them,” DeRan said, explaining that he liked to see how guns are designed and put together. “It reminds me of working on cars.”
He testified that during the year he was banned from possessing guns, he stored his firearms at the home of David Hockman, a friend. He admitted that at the same time he continued to purchase guns online through an Arizona dealer whose prices were “less expensive” than local dealers’ prices.
“I knew that I could not possess them so I assumed that I could not transfer them,” DeRan said, explaining why he had Ms. Gazda sign for the guns.
Ms. Gazda testified that she picked up guns from firearms dealer William B. Ferguson “five or six times” for DeRan, each time completing paperwork identifying her as the purchaser. She said she would then put the guns in DeRan’s car or take them to his home.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Rick Kerger, Ms. Gazda testified that she had taken a concealed-carry class from Mr. Ferguson, filled out paperwork to become a licensed firearms dealer herself, and intended to go into business with DeRan.
Last year, she and Mr. Ferguson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false entry into a firearm records. She was fined $250, and Mr. Ferguson was fined $2,000 and placed on probation for a year.
Mr. Kerger argued that DeRan had not tried to conceal the gun purchases but merely to follow the terms of the protection order.
“This is not the kind of conduct that that statute was meant to address,” he said. “It’s a violation of the law that does not warrant incarceration.”
Judge Carr concurred to some extent but said the offense still was serious.
“Our efforts to control the unlawful distribution of firearms are haphazard and halfhearted at best. They’re also unfortunately largely unsuccessful,” the judge said. “An important part of that effort is requiring people buying firearms [to do so] in their true names. Failure to do so … facilitates the unlawful acquisition and distribution and also the use of firearms in violent assaults and homicides.”
DeRan previously surrendered his medical license as part of a plea agreement with the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office. He pleaded guilty in July to four counts each of aggravated possession of drugs and aggravated trafficking of drugs for improperly prescribing the pain medication OxyContin to people who were not his patients.
After serving three months of a 28-month prison sentence, he was placed on community control for four years in December.
By Jennifer Feehan - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (MCT)
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