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State Opposes Sale of Costa Mesa Gun Maker

Times Staff Writer

The California attorney general’s office has objected in a Florida bankruptcy court to the sale of a controversial Costa Mesa gun maker, saying the prospective buyer has yet to obtain the required licenses to manufacture firearms.

Paul Jimenez of Chino, who was laid off as plant manager of Bryco Arms earlier this year, has petitioned the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Jacksonville, Fla., to buy the company’s assets for $150,000.

Bryco -- one of the last of a group of Southern California companies that stamped out millions of inexpensive handguns known as Saturday night specials -- filed for bankruptcy last year. The action occurred after a jury ordered the company, founder Bruce Jennings and his Nevada-based distributorship to pay $24 million to a Mendocino County teenager who was left a quadriplegic after being accidentally shot with a defectively designed Bryco handgun.

Lawyers for Brandon Maxfield have been trying to raise money on the Internet to outbid Jimenez for Bryco’s assets and prevent the company from reopening. Included in the sale are about 75,000 handgun frames that would be destroyed if Maxfield’s team outbids Jimenez for the company, said attorney Richard Ruggieri. Maxfield’s family cannot use settlement proceeds to buy the company, which can be spent only on the teenager’s care, he said.

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“Whether or not Mr. Jimenez gets his licenses ... I’d like to put together a competing bid for Bryco,” he said.

On June 22, bankruptcy Judge Jerry A. Funk ruled that prior notice of Bryco’s sale to Jimenez was inadequate and delayed it for 20 days to give creditors and “other interested parties” time to make written objections.

Randy Rossi, director of the state attorney general’s firearms division, sent a letter to Funk dated Wednesday objecting to the sale.

“We felt it was important to convey to the court that the buyer cannot legally manufacture firearms,” said attorney general spokeswoman Hallye Jordan.

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Jimenez has said that he has applied for all the necessary state and federal licenses to operate the gun maker under the name Jimenez Arms.

Jimenez didn’t return a phone message Thursday seeking comment. But Ned Nashban, Jennings’ attorney, said Jimenez was to file a letter with the court stating he didn’t intend to take possession of the gun frames until he is licensed.

“It’s much to-do about nothing,” Nashban said of the attorney general’s objection to Bryco’s sale to Jimenez. Ruggieri, he said, is “trying to find an end run to stop the sale.”


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