Outrageous Craft or Crime? Agents Raid Gibson in Search for… Wood?!
Making guitars is a craft, and sometimes, it apparently becomes a crime.
Gibson, which has been in business for more than a century, has three domestic factories. The Memphis, Tenn., factory holds daily tours so visitors can see guitars practically made from scratch.
But in November 2009, an unexpected visitor showed up at Gibson’s door. Armed agents from Homeland Security raided its Nashville headquarters and nearby factory.
So what brought them there? Not bombs, not terrorists, but wood.
Homeland Security and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service claimed that the wood, which came from Madagascar, violated the Lacey Act, a conservation law.
Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz said the company had affidavits from Madagascar and its officials which said that Gibson complied with all the laws.
Nearly two years later, as Gibson awaited formal charges, agents showed up again. This time, they said there was a problem with the way that wood from India was classified for import.
House Speaker John Boehner took note of Gibson’s problems with Homeland Security, blaming an overreaching federal government.
“Gibson is a well-respected American company that employs thousands of people […] Excessive regulations are making it harder for our economy to create jobs.”
In 2012, Gibson settled with the government, paying a $300,000 fine, a $50,000 community service payment and admitting to violating a law.
Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, of Tennessee, who has received donations from Juszkiewicz, claims the government had political motivations for its actions.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied that politics played a role.
Watch the full report above.
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