- LANCASTER, KENTUCKY
- An automotive technician had his home raided by federal agents over a
35 year-old non-violent felony on Tuesday. After the 7-hour action by the
Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms that cost the loss of all firearms
and a computer hard drive, Charlie Puckett vows to fight back. "I
will do whatever it takes to get my firearms back," he said.
- At issue is the Constitutional guarantee against enforcement
of ex-post facto laws. Puckett was convicted in Virginia back in 1966 after
for a crime of petty theft -- stealing food from a grocery store. Some
years later, that crime was upgraded to a felony based on the value of
the theft being over $100. The Gun Control Act of 1968 stated that a convicted
felon could not possess firearms, but this crime was not processed as a
felony, and it happened two years before GCA '68 was signed into law. Puckett
was 19 years of age when the incident took place.
- "I was young then, and we were hungry", said
Puckett. But somehow, someway, a 35-year-old, non-violent felony justified
Puckett's home being ransacked by treasury agents, his property confiscated.
- According to Robert Young, Special Agent in Charge for
the BATF, a search warrant was served on Puckett for "suspicion of
illegal firearms possession." This is what they apparently told the
local newspaper (and probably convinced Federal District Judge Todd, who
signed the warrant). Don York, a spokesman for the BATF said that Puckett
has never applied for a "restoration of rights'' with the BATF to
allow to him to own firearms.
- And it was never an issue -- for 35 years.
- But the BATF failed to mention that Puckett -- who has
never been charged with any crime since, married to the same woman for
33 years, and a father of two, with one grandchild -- had voted in every
presidential election since 1968. "I even filled out the 4473 forms
to purchase these firearms, and went through background checks," he
told Sierra Times.
- Convicted felons are also prohibited from voting, and
background checks are supposed to catch them. Perhaps he never made it
into the system because he was never convicted of a felony.
- Puckett also stated that he has a Kentucky Concealed
Carry Permit. "And they check it every week to make sure nothing new
comes up on someone's record," he said. Puckett has worked as an automotive
technician for all of his adult life.
- The Take Down
- According to Puckett, the incident began with a call
from the BATF around 9:30 am. "They wanted to meet me in a neutral
location to look at photos concerning the Steve Anderson case." Anderson
was allegedly involved in a gunfight with two police officers in Bell County,
Kentucky on October 14th of this year. Despite a $5,000 reward for capture,
Anderson is still at large.
- Puckett, insisting he has no ties to Anderson, agreed
to meet at a local store to assist the BATF in their ongoing investigation
of Anderson. Upon arrival, he made the mistake of taking federal agents
at their word -- he was served with a federal search warrant instead. "From
there, we got in their car and drove back to my place," said Puckett.
- Reports say that between 35 and 50 federal agents (backed
up by locals) took part in the search. The dress was fed-casual: no ski
masks or helmets, but the body armor (with ATF logo) was on top of the
shirts, sporting Glock .45's and at least two M-16 rifles at the ready.
No snipers were spotted.
- The agents spent about 7 hours in the Puckett home, while
Charlie remained in his garage -- prevented from watching them rifle through
his belongings. He was not harmed, nor was he handcuffed during the search.
"I feel like a woman that has been raped and left to die," he
said after they left. His wife remains emotionally distraught over the
- The Loot
- The mystery about the Puckett search and seizure is not
what was taken, but what was left behind. Puckett reports 5 weapons taken:
Two bolt action (single shot) rifles, two side arms and 1 SKA semi-auto
are now in BATF possession. But for a home that warranted up to 50 tax-supported,
armed agents in body armor, the firearms belonging to Puckett's son were
- The jewel of the Puckett raid seems to have been the
hard drive from his computer. "But they won't find much there. I never
leave sensitive information there. All of my contacts and other important
information is kept off site and in a safe place," said the angry
- The Fallout
- No arrests were made. No charges have been filed. No
court date has been set. "They just left," he said. Still, Puckett
says he's not done with this matter in the least bit. He is throwing down
the gauntlet. "My Questions are for the Assistant U.S. Attorney in
the case: Are you going to prosecute this? Under what grounds? If you took
an oath to follow the Constitution, this cannot be prosecuted due to the
ex-post facto provision!"
- Puckett said that he has found legal counsel and will
be speaking with him on Wednesday. He also stated that he has a network
of close associates who would assist in any legal costs. There is wide
speculation that the raid on the Puckett home was merely a desperate attempt
to glean any information on the whereabouts of Steve Anderson -- hence
the hard drive seizure.
- Puckett said he had plans to run for a seat in Kentucky's
34th congressional district. But after his bout with federal authorities,
he has a different taste about working or associating with any federal
authority. "First thing I'm going to do [Wednesday] morning is call
that FBI contact and tell him we are done. I am never talking to them about
anything again." He included a newly developed unwillingness to disclose
any information about Steve Anderson, if such information ever came his
- Puckett stated that he has worked with law enforcement
before. According to Puckett, he helped local Danville police round-up
28 suspects back in 1997. "We also recovered a stolen police pistol,"
he said. But those days are over now. "I am breaking off all contact
with federal law enforcement. I have lost all faith in this government."
- Puckett also urges friends and associates from around
the country to remain calm, and not to jump to any conclusions. "No
need to do something stupid folks. You could be next."