Fort Smith man sentenced to prison on weapons, fraud charges

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 215 views 

Neil Mehta, who attempted to evade federal authorities after a raid on his Fort Smith home in early 2023, has been sentenced on weapons and tax charges to 57 months in federal prison, three years of supervised release and paying $659,825.52 in restitution.

Mehta was captured in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 7, 2023, following a Jan. 31 raid on his home at 6999 Free Ferry Road in Fort Smith.

According to the office of David Fowlkes, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, Mehta was charged with one count of possession of an unregistered firearm that was a destructive device, one count of fraud and false statements related to tax returns, and one count of false declaration Before a Court.

In a separate case, Fort Smith-based Federal Armament LLC, which was owned by Mehta, was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay a fine of $500,000 on one count of unlawful importation and receipt of firearms and one count of filing false or misleading electronic export information. Federal Armament was also ordered to forfeit the illegally imported firearms.

U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes, III, presided over the sentencing hearings, which were held in the U.S. District Court in Fort Smith.

According to Department of Justice filings, on Jan. 31, 2023, federal law enforcement officers executed a search warrant on Mehta’s residence in Fort Smith. Mehta was present at the residence when officers announced their intent to enter the residence but fled from the residence prior to officers making entry into the residence. Mehta was later arrested in Texas after a six-day manhunt.

Neil Mehta

During the execution of the search warrant, officers discovered and seized a destructive device located in the top left corner of the kitchen island of the residence. The destructive device was not registered as required by law and therefore unlawfully possessed by Mehta. Also during the search warrant, officers located and seized 3,185 firearms that Federal Armament unlawfully imported due to excess magazine capacity or because the firearms lacked required engraving marks.

Agencies involved in the Mehta case include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General.