Tuesday, August 07, 2012
Gibson Guitars Settles With Feds
Gibson Guitars essentially did a plea bargain with the feds that amounted to $600,000 in fines and arbitrary levies in order to end litigation for what amounted to selective prosecution by th Obama Administration.
"We felt compelled to settle as the costs of proving our case at trial would have cost millions of dollars and taken a very long time to resolve," CEO Henry Juszkiewicz said in a statement late Monday night.
"This allows us to get back to the business of making guitars," he said, noting that the settlement would allow them to continue sourcing rosewood and ebony from India as it has for decades.
"We feel that Gibson was inappropriately targeted, and a matter that could have been addressed with a simple contact from a caring human being representing the government," he said in his statement. "Instead, the Government used violent and hostile means with the full force of the US Government and several armed law enforcement agencies costing the tax payer millions of dollars and putting a job creating US manufacture at risk and at a competitive disadvantage."
Gibson agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty, abandon its claims to about $262,000 worth of wood seized by federal agents and to contribute $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to promote the conservation of protected tree species.
George Gruhn, whose shop in Nashville is famous among guitar player had it exactly right:
"Regardless of the merits of the case on either side, it would have cost more than that by far to pursue it," he said. "Even if they thought they conceivably they could win, it would have probably cost more than $1 million to do it."
The law involved was the Lacey Act, which was originally a decent piece of legislation designed to stop the trade in endangered wildlife goods, like ivory. In 2008, lobbying by environmental wack jobs to a Democrat dominated congress added rare woods to the bill.
While Justice and Interior Department officials said in a September letter that those who "unknowingly possess" an instrument made from illegally imported materials don't have a criminal problem, I wouldn't trust them one bit.That 'unknowingly' gives the leeway to go after selected targets. Your prosecution will be based on your political contributions, just like Gibson's was.
If you own a pre-1970's Gibson guitar, all of whom used Brazilian rosewood, ( or a number of other vintage instruments) I'd be very careful. Certainly I'd never take it through customs.