Gun Dealer Hits Bloomberg on Sting Operation

This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.

The New York Sun

Mayor Bloomberg has been hit with another lawsuit in connection with his campaign to crack down on illegal guns.

A South Carolina gun dealer became the second storeowner to sue after Mr. Bloomberg targeted it a few months ago in an undercover sting operation designed to stymie illegal gun sales.

The lawsuit, filed in South Carolina, seeks damages and claims that the city smeared the storeowner’s reputation.


Meanwhile, a gun dealer in Queens targeted by the city’s investigators, Michael Spallone, 41, pleaded guilty yesterday to disorderly conduct. Mr. Bloomberg touted that plea as a victory, saying it sends a strong message that “any violation of the law that allows illegal guns to flow onto our streets will be vigorously pursued.”

The punishment, a $1,000 fine, was a slap on the wrist compared to the year in prison City Hall said the dealer was facing when it announced the charges just a few months ago.

Two of the 15 gun dealers targeted by the mayor’s sting operations have, however, accepted settlement deals with the city that mandate a special monitor audit their stores for the next three years, which was one of the goals the mayor pointed to when he announced the federal lawsuits.


The mayor’s criminal justice coordinator, John Feinblatt, said in a statement: “These historic settlements are unprecedented. We expect that the others will follow the example of the two Georgia dealers, who willingly came to the table to negotiate a fair settlement that keeps them in business, keeps illegal guns off the street, and keeps them on the right side of the law.”

For the two gun dealers suing the city for damages, however, it was the mayor’s original tenor and lack of jurisdiction in their towns that led them to start a legal battle with City Hall. Among other things, the mayor called the 15 dealers “rogue gun dealers,” “the worst of the worst,” and “bad apples.”

“I think his investigations and his accusations have been completely irresponsible,” the storeowner in Summerville, S.C., who filed the second lawsuit against the city, Larry Mickalis, said. “I live in a small town and he’s basically ruined my name. I’ve been on the front page two times. I’ve been on all the news channels. … I would never sell a gun under the table.”


A Smyrna, Ga., gun dealer, Jay Wallace, filed a suit against the city for $400 million in damages in July. A third dealer, Chan Holman, who owns a store in Orangeburg, S.C., said he is also planning to file a lawsuit in the coming weeks. Of the 15 dealers contacted by The New York Sun, three said they were suing, two had already settled, and another said he was close to settling; two more said they were going to contest the suit, and six had no comment or said they were undecided.

The lawyer for the Queens gun dealer, John Chambers, said yesterday’s guilty plea only showed the paucity of evidence the city had on his client, who has worked at the family-owned gun store for more than 20 years without a violation.

When police originally raided Woodhaven Rifle and Pistol Range in May, the guns were carted away, and 10 of the store’s licenses were revoked.

In the last three months, though, the guns were returned, all the licenses but Mr. Spallone’s were returned, and the Queens district attorney, Richard Brown, dropped the misdemeanor charge and its maximum penalty of one year in prison to a violation with a $250 fine and $750 to cover investigative costs.

“Even technical violations could have tragic consequences,” Mr. Brown said.

The New York Sun

© 2023 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  Create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use