Trusting people with your weapon

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- A Valley woman is faced with a unique problem. A high powered and rather expensive machine gun that she says she legally owned has been sold out from underneath her, leaving her without the gun and out tens of thousands of dollars.

Candace Havermale said she and her late fiancé enjoyed collecting guns and wanted to turn their hobby into a business.

“He wanted to open a class 3 shop with a range that you could fire weapons at,” said Havermale.

They wanted to make sure their shop included a variety of high powered weapons like this machine gun; an H5 MP-5 that had two stocks. It had an original stock and a collapsible stock.

Havermale's fiancé, Rod, had purchased the gun for $22,000. Before taking possession of this type of weapon Rod had to apply for a special permit from ATF and have a licensed gun dealer hold the weapon until that permit came through.

That dealer was a gun shop called Arizona Tactical Firearms. A man named Ronald Uthe ran the store. Havermale said the tag came through just fine, but unfortunately before Rod could get his weapon, he unexpectedly died.

Havermale said the weapon was left to her in a trust. She said Uthe was supposed to be transferring the gun into her name so she could legally have it, but instead, Havermale said Uthe sold it to someone else.

“He had sold the weapon illegally. He totally stole the weapon from me,” said Havermale.

Havermale said she's tried everything she could to get the weapon from Uthe, and even filed a complaint with the ATF and eventually filed a suit against Uthe and Arizona Tactical Firearms. She won the case, but said it's been years now and that judgment hasn't done her any good.

“I still have no result. I mean I have an empty judgment, a piece of paper that cost me over $5,000,” said Havermale.

3 On Your Side went to Arizona Tactical Firearms in Tempe. The shop was shut down and probably for good reason. 3 On Your Side has learned Uthe is locked up after being indicted by the Feds, and The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

The ATF has charged Uthe with multiple counts of weapon violations. He's accused of doing what he did to Havermale to several others.

Havermale hopes to finally get some resolution and hopes this is the first step of the closure she's been looking for.

If convicted on all these charges, Uthe can potentially face up to 20 years in prison. During this on-going investigation, ATF said they will do what they can to locate Havermale's gun.