Video: The Great Gibson Guitar Raid … Months later, still no charges

posted at 3:40 pm on February 23, 2012 by Tina Korbe

Last August, the federal government raided a Gibson Guitar factory and confiscated property worth at least $500,000. What had Gibson Guitars done wrong? They had imported wood from India and failed to follow every “jot and tittle” of the regulatory law … not of the United States, but of India.

Apparently, Gibson used an inappropriate tariff code on the wood. According to Reason.tv, “At issue is not whether the wood in question was endangered, but whether the wood was the correct level of thickness and finish before being exported from India.” In other words, Gibson’s violation had nothing to do with forest preservation.

Thanks to a bureaucratic U.S. law called The Lacey Act, Gibson and other importers can be criminally prosecuted by the U.S. government for violations not only of U.S. regulatory law, but also for violations of other countries’ regulatory laws. The Indian government didn’t see a reason to penalize Gibson — but Gibson’s own government did.

The Lacey Act was originally passed in the early 1900s to prevent illegal trafficking of endangered fish and wildlife, but expanded to include plant life and international trade. Over the years, it was repeatedly amended and became increasingly broader and vaguer. In the process, it turned into a perfect example of the way overregulation leads to overcriminalization.

Reason.tv recently checked in with Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz to see how the case has progressed. Turns out, the DOJ has filed no charges. That means Gibson hasn’t had its day in court to defend itself — and the government still has all that confiscated property.

Fortunately, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has introduced legislation to amend The Lacey Act to remove each and every mention of “foreign law” in the Act and to substitute a civil penalty system with The Lacey Act’s current criminal penalties.


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Just like the government to string them along.

Drained Brain on February 23, 2012 at 3:42 PM

It’s all about intimidation with this lawless administration. Hey, they are from Chicago, why would be expect anything different.

Axion on February 23, 2012 at 3:45 PM

To add injury to insult, the taxpayers will be paying the damages when Gibson sues the pants out of DOJ.

Archivarix on February 23, 2012 at 3:46 PM

It was a shakedown to help out a politically-favored competitor.

Wigglesworth on February 23, 2012 at 3:46 PM

If I could afford it I’d buy a Hummingbird right now.

Frantic Freddie on February 23, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Shocked…shocked I tell ya…!

SPGuy on February 23, 2012 at 3:47 PM

“Nice Country you got there…

… It would be a shame if anything happened to it!”

Seven Percent Solution on February 23, 2012 at 3:48 PM

We’re plucked.

fogw on February 23, 2012 at 3:49 PM

There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted—and you create a nation of law-breakers—and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

From “Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand.

In additions to Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” it seems that Atlas Shrugged is a playbook for 0′s gang of thugs.

iurockhead on February 23, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Well of course there aren’t any formal charges. For that to be the case this would have had to be a legally undertaken raid, rather than blatant political retribution. It’s almost as if you don’t remotely understand how such things work with a fascist government… Next you’ll be expecting that those ten boring appendices Mickelson (Mattingly? I dunno.. one of those boring slave-owner founders) added to that Constituter-thingy are important or something.

(And yeah… fascist. Show me somebody who claims that fascism is “right-wing” and I’ll show you somebody who doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to understand the history of political philosophy.)

Gingotts on February 23, 2012 at 3:50 PM

If I was a liberal guitar player working for the DoJ, I’m sure I’d find a way that one of those SWEEEEET confiscated guitars could be added to my personal collection legally or not.

Since I’m only a conservative guitar player, I’m still waiting for my Gibson piggybank to fill.

shick on February 23, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Don’t worry Tina, King Obama will have 5 more years to take care of this.

JPeterman on February 23, 2012 at 3:53 PM

So the Princess assures us the Kingdom will not prosecute individuals, even though they have the right to.

For now.

PattyJ on February 23, 2012 at 3:53 PM

KRS 514.030 Theft by unlawful taking or disposition — Penalties.
(1) Except as otherwise provided in KRS 217.181 or 218A.1418, a person is guilty of theft by unlawful taking or disposition when he unlawfully:
(a) Takes or exercises control over movable property of another with intent to deprive him thereof; or

And yes, I know it’s a federal confiscation of purportedly “illegal” material and Kentucky Statute doesn’t apply, but really, what’s the difference? Property taken 6 months ago, not returned, and no charges filed to justify the confiscation. Sounds like an unlawful taking to me.

Lost in Jersey on February 23, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Due process? “When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due-process violation, which offends against the rule of law.”

Eric Holder… please pickup the white courtesy phone. What’s that you say? You’ve got Darryl Issa on the other line?

VietVet_Dave on February 23, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Just like the government to string them along.

Drained Brain on February 23, 2012 at 3:42 PM

And here I was fretting the coming puns.

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on February 23, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Is the confiscated wood still good? The purpose here is to take out Gibson because they are not union. The wood was probably left laying out where it has rotted.

Quick and speedy? It’s the Department of in-Justice.

TerryW on February 23, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Holder, what a hokey jokey donk.

jake49 on February 23, 2012 at 4:02 PM

We don’t need no stinkin’ charges. After all, the Pubs. have filled the jails with Fast and Furious arrests of ATF criminals. Oh, wait….

they lie on February 23, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Is the TN governor, attorney general or Congressional rep doing anything? If no charges have been filed can Gibson/TN bring a suit against the Feds?

INC on February 23, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Great! The only provenance hub has on his 59 cherry sunburst Les Paul is that he bought it from a reputable dealer about 34 years ago and it had a name plate (nobody famous) on the case that fell off.

Also, I was recently told by a furniture restorer that the way he “lawfully” acquires rosewood in order to make repairs is to cannibalize other antique furniture pieces in his possession for the wood.

jix on February 23, 2012 at 4:03 PM

What difference does it make if charges were filed or not? The damage is done, the goods are impounded, the guitars are not being made, nor sold and economic activity is hindered. That is what a tyrannical government does to its citizens, all that has to be done is that it has to get in your way. Charges or not, the citizen suffers both ways.

ted c on February 23, 2012 at 4:04 PM

OT:Feds oppose green energy project to use water for power. obama is a HYPOCRITE!!!

ConservativePartyNow on February 23, 2012 at 4:06 PM

THINK OF THE TREES!

shick on February 23, 2012 at 4:06 PM

From “Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand.

In additions to Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” it seems that Atlas Shrugged is a playbook for 0′s gang of thugs.

iurockhead on February 23, 2012 at 3:49 PM

thanks for that. enlightening.

ted c on February 23, 2012 at 4:06 PM

The Husband says that he doesn’t think Gibson got their stuff back from that last raid in 2009.

Cindy Munford on February 23, 2012 at 4:08 PM

If a Government agency can decide NOT to enforce a law (such as against private owners taking their instruments our of the country), can’t they just as easily and capriciously decide suddenly in the case of you or me, to enformce the law?

kurtzz3 on February 23, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Competitors big Obama donors, are they?

mojo on February 23, 2012 at 4:14 PM

This is why all of the government agencies need to be put out of business. They serve no purpose but to harrass citizens. All we need is the military to protect our borders – all others need to go. They are useless.

rjulio on February 23, 2012 at 4:16 PM

The Husband says that he doesn’t think Gibson got their stuff back from that last raid in 2009.

Cindy Munford on February 23, 2012 at 4:08 PM

Henry Juszkiewicz needs to have his legal eagles look into a Federal suit under the Tucker Act. TWO SUITS, apparently.

VietVet_Dave on February 23, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Obama – “I am not an ideologue”

Richard Nixon – “I’m not a crook”

Speakup on February 23, 2012 at 4:03 PM

I’ll take Nixon any day over this idiot we now have. Nixon’s only crime was not calling out the Marines to put the Congress under house arrest.

rjulio on February 23, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Bet there are a bunch of Mexican drug cartels with really nice new guitars too!

search4truth on February 23, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Eric Holder… please pickup the white courtesy phone. What’s that you say? You’ve got Darryl Issa on the other line?

VietVet_Dave on February 23, 2012 at 3:57 PM

The WHITE courtesy phone, huh? And now you’re going to claim that’s not a racist dog whistle, right? Summoning Holder to his white slave master!! Outrageously outrageous outrage ensue!!

/sarc

SoRight on February 23, 2012 at 4:20 PM

VietVet_Dave on February 23, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Can you imagine having a half a million of product tied up? And that’s from the most recent raid. The whole thing is very very odd. I wonder if Mr. Juszkiewicz is afraid to rock the boat? Good grief I dislike our president.

Cindy Munford on February 23, 2012 at 4:22 PM

The WHITE courtesy phone, huh? And now you’re going to claim that’s not a racist dog whistle, right? Summoning Holder to his white slave master!! Outrageously outrageous outrage ensue!!

/sarc

SoRight on February 23, 2012 at 4:20 PM

LMAO… correction… a phone that happens to be white.

VietVet_Dave on February 23, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Cindy Munford on February 23, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Makes my blood boil. The DOJ pleads ignorance over F&F and they get a pass… we have over 100 folks in congress calling for his resignation and he’s tone deaf… and he confiscates Gibson’s property, putting people out of work, forcing them to offshore that part of the assembly.

People… please use your vote.

VietVet_Dave on February 23, 2012 at 4:32 PM

NOAA used fishing fines to pay for a yacht for their own entertainment, why wouldn’t I suspect that the wood has been auctioned off to pay for some luxury for another branch of the federal government?

slickwillie2001 on February 23, 2012 at 4:40 PM

In other news,
Michelle Obama just unveiled her brand new, custom-made
Indian hardwood dining room set.

mrt721 on February 23, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Troll-Free Thread so far. Pretty hard to defend this stuff.

Especially since at least 99% of professional American musicians supported O’bama in 2008. Many of whom play Gibson guitars.

Del Dolemonte on February 23, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Just like the government to string them along.

Drained Brain on February 23, 2012 at 3:42 PM

ICWYDT

From the original story, it was also reported that Fender made the same acquisitions of the same Indian hardwood, and should have been subject to the same government intrusion. But of course, one of the two companies strongly supports and donates to left-wing politics. Therefore, Fender had nothing to fret, while Gibson had no fretboards.

Freelancer on February 23, 2012 at 4:48 PM

I’ll take Nixon any day over this idiot we now have. Nixon’s only crime was not calling out the Marines to put the Congress under house arrest.

rjulio on February 23, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Nixon’s establishment of OSHA and the EPA don’t bother you in the least, eh?

gryphon202 on February 23, 2012 at 4:53 PM

I just ordered a Les Paul!!! Saved for 8 months…felt SOOO good! Suck it, barry!

WhatsRight on February 23, 2012 at 5:07 PM

and vicious drug cartels control the border and the whole of mexico and rule even from inside american prisons. such lovely pyramids made out of human heads.

but. must. stop.production. of. gibson. fretboards.

robert johnson. guitar used:gibson L1:
http://youtu.be/O8hqGu-leFc

mittens on February 23, 2012 at 5:08 PM

In other news,
Michelle Obama just unveiled her brand new, custom-made
Indian hardwood dining room set.

mrt721 on February 23, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Uh, thanks for reminding me. Remember the state gift given by Michelle to Carla?

http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Lifestyle/News/Michelle-Obama-French-406/

http://www2.gibson.com/Products/Acoustic-Instruments/Square-Shoulder/Gibson-Acoustic/Hummingbird/Features.aspx

The Gibson Hummingbird is one of the targeted guitars, because it uses an Indian rosewood bridge. Now, if Gibson used illegal wood, then Michelle exported same.

unclesmrgol on February 23, 2012 at 5:16 PM

Just like the government to string them along.

Drained Brain on February 23, 2012 at 3:42 PM

I agree – you might say it hits a sour note, perhaps eve strikes the wrong chord.

But don’t fret…

kjl291 on February 23, 2012 at 5:18 PM

Typical Obama regime – if they can screw a business or sue a State – they will.

And they will do that while apologizing to muslim nutters and anyone else who fancies themselves offended by America. . . .

karra on February 23, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Obama – “I am not an ideologue”

Richard Nixon – “I’m not a crook”

Speakup on February 23, 2012 at 4:03 PM

I’ll take Nixon any day over this idiot we now have. Nixon’s only crime was not calling out the Marines to put the Congress under house arrest.

rjulio on February 23, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Nixon was the most intelligent liberal ever seen.

Speakup on February 23, 2012 at 5:25 PM

I’m going upstairs and wail my ’72 Les Paul right now.
Come and get me, ya bastards !

teacherman on February 23, 2012 at 5:57 PM

“It was a shakedown to help out a politically-favored competitor.” Absolutely true and now we have a tyrannical government no longer accountable to We, the People! This is what “Hope and Change” has wrought! 4 more years of this and the United States of American is no more.

JonR on February 23, 2012 at 5:57 PM

Hey, all you conservative millionaires/billionaires out there who are just chomping at the bit to throw money at the Romney campaign, since he’s already been declared the winner on the Drudge Report, etc. why not set up a fund to help this guy sue the gub’mint?

Knott Buyinit on February 23, 2012 at 6:07 PM

ATF: Always Think Forfeiture

fossten on February 23, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Fortunately, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has introduced legislation to amend The Lacey Act to remove each and every mention of “foreign law” in the Act and to substitute a civil penalty system with The Lacey Act’s current criminal penalties.

Good on Rand Paul. We need more Senators like this. The fact that U.S. citizens are being prosecuted in the U.S. justice system for violating foreign laws constitutes a breach of U.S. sovereignty.

Caiwyn on February 23, 2012 at 7:28 PM

Surprised they didn’t confiscate Lucille at the big blues show.

PortlandJon on February 23, 2012 at 7:40 PM

I remember this story when it happened and that Gibson was the only manufacturer raided even though others firms had imported the very same wood. What set Gibson apart? The Gibson CEO is a GOP donor.

SpiderMike on February 23, 2012 at 9:56 PM

According to a search at opensecrets, Juszkiewicz gave $2000 to Jim Cooper (D) of TN this cycle. Guys like this who support Democrats deserve every bad thing. When they stop supporting our domestic enemies, then I’ll care.

edshepp on February 23, 2012 at 11:30 PM

MSM?

KOOLAID2 on February 23, 2012 at 11:41 PM

Will you wing nuts quit celebrating Gibson’s misery!

MNHawk on February 24, 2012 at 8:31 AM

I guess I’ll take my Fender instead of my Martin on my next posting to Afghanistan…

dahni on February 24, 2012 at 1:15 PM