Smith & Wesson VP Charged In Bribery Case

Gunmaker's vice president of sales is among 22 people accused of trying to bribe an African government to get part of a multimillion-dollar deal to outfit its presidential guard.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- A top Smith & Wesson executive is among 22 people accused of trying to bribe an African government to get part of a multimillion-dollar deal to outfit its presidential guard.

Amaro Goncalves, 49, vice president of sales for the Springfield-based gunmaker, and the other defendants were arrested Monday in Las Vegas while attending a trade show.

Goncalves and the other executives from various arms and military suppliers are charged with violating the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and conspiracy to launder money. Federal prosecutors say the charges came after an undercover sting lasting more than two years.

The defendants allegedly agreed to pay an illegal 20 percent "commission" to a sales agent they believed represented the defense minister for an unnamed African country. The sales agent was actually an undercover FBI agent, and no defense minister was involved at all.

According to the indictment, the 22 defendants created two price quotations: one with the actual price of the products, and one with illegal "commissions" added as bribes for the country's defense minister and the sales agent.

The indictment alleges Goncalves arranged an initial sale of 25 handguns for $12,495 and paid the "commission."

Then, the indictment says, he met four months later with someone he believed was a sales agent for the African country and struck another deal for 1,800 more pistols that also included the 20 percent extra.

Also charged are executives and employees at companies in Arkansas, Virginia, Florida, California, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky as well as companies in the United Kingdom and Israel.

In Las Vegas, word of the arrests came as a surprise to organizers of the 2010 Shooting, Hunting & Outdoor Trade Show, which the defendants were in town to attend.

Mark Thomas, marketing and communications manager for the show host, the National Shooting Sports Foundation of Newtown, Conn., referred questions about the arrests to the FBI and Justice Department.

Smith & Wesson was not named in the indictment and Goncalves' status with the company was unclear Thursday. Messages were left Thursday for Goncalves' attorney, Robert Draskovich Jr., and for Smith & Wesson.

Smith & Wesson announced Goncalves' appointment in January 2008 to the newly created position of vice president of law enforcement, international and U.S. government sales, making him responsible for all aspects of Smith & Wesson's international and domestic law enforcement sales. He also manages the company's global military and government contract negotiations and purchasing procedures.

Goncalves previously was director of international sales and marketing for Colt's Manufacturing Co. Inc., based in West Hartford, Conn.

More in Operations