Former gun store executive charged illegal use of criminal background database

Hanover VA Oct 20 2013 – Federal and state investigators are looking into alleged misuse of a highly confidential criminal background database used for gun purchases by a former vice president of Green Top Sporting Goods in Hanover County.

State police also have issued a summons charging the vice president, who was the alleged source of the misuse.Court documents and state police are confirming that Michael J. Lynch is facing a misdemeanor charge under criminal statutes that make it illegal to fraudulently seek or provide access to criminal background check information.

Lynch, whose Hanover Avenue home in Richmond has been sold and is empty, is facing an arraignment this month in Hanover General District Court on the misdemeanor, which carries a six-month jail sentence.

Todd Stone, Lynch’s lawyer, said Wednesday his client would not comment on the pending case. “I think we will be able to show that Mr. Lynch is not guilty of what he is charged with,” Stone said.

Green Top, which has been in business in Hanover County since 1947 and is one of the state’s largest retail weapons outlets, recently moved under new ownership and management to a sprawling location on Lakeridge Parkway west of Interstate 95.

State police said this week that Lynch was charged following a criminal investigation “into an unauthorized third party being granted access to the Virginia State Police V-Check program via an employee” of Green Top Sporting Goods.

Information obtained in the criminal investigation also has been referred by state police to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has jurisdiction over Green Top’s license to sell firearms.

A spokesman for ATF in Washington did not return calls seeking information about the status of Green Top’s license.

Lynch, 57, a former Circuit City executive, was charged Aug. 27 based on a summons obtained by state trooper D.M. Sottile. The summons says the charge stemmed from alleged illegal activity that occurred between Aug. 8 and Aug. 21.

The V-Check system is the database through which state police conduct criminal background checks of potential purchasers of firearms, usually at the point of sale, including licensed firearms dealers.

Lynch, according to a recording on the Green Top telephone system, is no longer with the company. Company president William C. Prout did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

Sources with knowledge of Green Top operations said Lynch allegedly provided privileged information about accessing the V-Check system to a software company that advertises programming that can facilitate storing and submitting documentation that is provided to law enforcement to gain approval for a gun sale.

But the access code is highly confidential and by law cannot be disseminated to any source outside the licensed dealer to which it is assigned. Calls to the software company were not returned Wednesday.

Hanover Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramon C. “Trip” Chalkley III was out of the office this week and unavailable for comment.

Green Top has been repeatedly cited as one of the state’s top retail outlets for firearms and a year ago moved from its longtime site on U.S. 1 north of

Virginia Center Commons to the former Gander Mountain facility on Lakeridge Parkway.

The V-Check system is the foundation of the state’s ability to carry out background checks of gun buyers; the system tracks criminal convictions, outstanding protective orders and individuals who have been diagnosed with severe mental disorders.

That sort of information is not passed along to retailers in the process of selling a weapon to a customer; the retailer merely learns if the potential buyer has been approved or disapproved as a buyer.

The system is closely monitored despite the number of checks that are run through the system annually by weapons retailers. In 2012, a record 432,387 gun transactions were recorded. In December that year, more than 5,000 transactions were recorded, the highest monthly total on record.

Richmond Dispatch

View Source