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Concern about cut-short concealed-carry course leads to charges

Fraud is often associated with high-dollar financial schemes. There are of course a host of variations, involving such things as Ponzi schemes, real estate fraud and insurance fraud.

It is unusual, however, to encounter fraud charges relating to allegedly flawed training courses. But that is what the charges are in a current St. Louis case. A 52-year-old man who taught training courses in St. Louis County on concealed-carry of guns is accused of failing to provide adequate training - and then falsifying certificates that participants got for completing the training.

Missouri law requires an eight-hour safety training period in order to apply for a concealed-carry permit. The safety course taught by the gun instructor in this case was therefore supposed to at least eight hours long.

But a police investigation found that the instructor was repeatedly cutting the course short. Authorities became suspicious when someone applied for a concealed-carry permit in the early afternoon, using a training certificate for an 8-hour course conducted that day.

Undercover investigators looked into the instructor's work further. They found that cutting corners on the class was a common practice. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that at least 1,770 received concealed-carry permits after attending training sessions that were apparently cut short.

Prosecutors have brought numerous charges following completion of the undercover investigation. These include issuing a false certificate (four counts) and false information furnished by an instructor in a concealed-carry training program (three counts).

Both of these offenses are misdemeanors. Issuing a false certificate is a Class A misdemeanor. An instructor's submission of false information in a safety course for concealed weapons is a Class C misdemeanor.

Source: "St. Louis County Gun Instructor Accused of Fraud, Inadequate Concealed-Carry Trainings," Riverfront Times, Sam Levin, 4-15-13

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