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Originally published September 28, 2009 at 11:52 AM | Page modified September 29, 2009 at 9:25 AM

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Judge rules against former Tacoma gun-shop owner in D.C. sniper case

A Tacoma gun-range owner who lost his license to sell firearms after a rifle from his store was used in the 2002 D.C. sniper slayings will not be getting the federal license back.

Seattle Times staff reporter

A Tacoma gun-range owner who lost his license to sell firearms after a rifle from his store was used in the 2002 D.C. sniper slayings will not be getting the federal license back.

Brian Borgelt, who co-owned Bull's Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma until 2003, was seeking to have his firearms license reinstated. Borgelt now manages a gun range in the same Tacoma building where the Bull's Eye is located.

U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez last week ruled that the government properly revoked the license.

Seattle attorney James Frush, who is representing Borgelt and his former business partner, Charles Carr, said that he will likely appeal Martinez's decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were convicted of killing 10 people in the Washington, D.C., area during three weeks in October 2002. They were accused of roaming the area with a Bushmaster rifle that they fired from the trunk of a Chevrolet Caprice at random victims.

Malvo is believed to have shoplifted the Bushmaster from Bull's Eye Shooter Supply in 2002.

Muhammad, a former Fort Lewis soldier, and Malvo lived in the Tacoma area and in Bellingham before heading east.

Muhammed is scheduled to be executed in November. Malvo is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revoked Borgelt and Carr's licenses in 2003, saying that they willfully broke laws about keeping gun-sale records used by police to trace weapons used in crimes. Borgelt could not produce a sales record for federal agents investigating the D.C. sniper slayings. Bull's Eye also could not account for sales of 238 other guns.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kipnis said the case represented "a complete loss of control of inventory."

"The regulations exist to protect the public," said Kipnis who is the chief of the civil division for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle.

Malvo told investigators he shoplifted the $1,600 carbine from the gun store, law-enforcement sources have said. Under Borgelt and Carr's ownership, the gun shop had a long history of violations, authorities have said.

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While Borgelt, a former Army Ranger, still works closely with firearms, he only sells ammunition — which federal law does not keep him from selling, Frush said. Carr works as a police officer on the East Coast.

In 2006, Borgelt was sentenced to three years of probation for failing to file several years of tax returns. He had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failure to file federal tax returns between 1997 and 2001.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlen Storm said Borgelt made roughly $100,000 by failing to file the taxes. He used the money to buy a luxury car, a boat and a waterfront home.

The former co-owner of Bull's Eye was sentenced in January 2006 to three years probation for failing to file several years of tax returns.

Borgelt sold his interest in the gun store to a friend in July 2003.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Information from The Associated Press and Times Archives are included in this report

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