Skip to comments.Feds to Gibson: Hand over more wood
Posted on 09/30/2011 7:36:58 AM PDT by Red Badger
Federal authorities are pressuring Nashville-based Gibson Guitar to hand over an additional 25 bundles of Indian wood that the company allegedly planned to use in its famous guitars.
The complaint was filed today in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee and mirrors a 2010 action that sought official forfeiture of wood obtained in a 2009 raid of Gibson facilities. The latter of those cases has been stayed, pending the outcome of the most recent suit.
As has been the case in previous allegations, at issue is the classification of certain wood imported to the United States from India. Namely, a June shipment of 1,250 sawn logs was classified as "finished parts of musical instruments," which is allowed under Indian law. In reality, according to the sworn affidavit of Fish and Wildlife Service agent Kevin Seiler, the wood was unfinished a violation of the Lacey Act.
The Lacey Act, originally passed by Congress in 1900, was amended in 2008 as part of that years Farm Bill to include protection for certain wood and endangered animal species. At its core, the Lacey Act makes it illegal to import plants or wildlife into the U.S. if those goods are harvested in a way that violates the laws of another country.
In other words, because Indian workers didnt create the final product, its not legally eligible to be exported.
The affidavit also outlines allegations that Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz understands the violations, as evidenced by the staunch defense of his company in a press conference and subsequent political fights around the Lacey Act.
It is clear that Gibson understands the purpose of the Lacey Act, and understands that
fingerboard blanks are not finished fingerboards and thus Gibson is aware that its order for fingerboard blanks was an order for contraband ebony wood or ebony wood which is illegal to possess," Seiler wrote.
The CEO needs to send a check to the DNC or Obama re-election campaign and the heat will, unexpectedly, turn off. If they were raiding other guitar entities, it wouldn’t look so obvious, but, this administration doesn’t care how obvious they look; they know they will get away with it.
Where does the wood come from for a Martin guitar?
Seems to me the only one with standing to file a complaint would be India.
I have wood the feds can have!
Probable ratio of payoffs to the DNC:
Gibson’s competitors 2 DNC
-———————————— >>>> 1
Gibson 2 DNC
I think Gibson may have been getting bad workmanship and decided that the way to correct the problem under this “international labor law” was to change the specs for the thickness of the fingerboards so that they would have enough there to finish them correctly here. Acting as if this is anything but Gibson trying to keep the quality, even though it meant paying for the labor twice, is just horseshit. No regulations or laws on the “harvesting” were broken. It’s just a labor law that Gibson had to find a way around.
heh heh heh...
so glad those boys are coming back...
Back on Gibson’s case. These prople are despicable. I have heard some slight groaning from the industry over this, but we need a roar. Where are all the guitar players???
After which the Fed will probably burn them just to ensure they never get back to Gibson.
“In other words, because Indian workers didnt create the final product...”
Only G-d can make a tree.
When do the Feds send out a mandatory recall of all Gibsons within a certain serial number range?
I wonder how they’re defining “finished” here? I’d guess these Indian fingerboard blanks are probably pretty rough, probably not much more than rough-cut rectangular slabs. So there probably is an argument to be made that they’re not finished fingerboards.
But didn’t the Indian government approve these for export? My understanding is that it was the US government interpreting “finished” more strictly than the Indians themselves.
The Unification Board has determined that the wood should be used for the bigger public good and, once confiscated, will be used to create a wood finish to the interior of Obama’s golf cart.
“I have wood the feds can have!”
They can bend over and I’ll find some wood. Blood sucking vampires....forget the stake through the heart, there are more appropriate places for a stake with all this B.S.
They’re having some kind of concert in support of Gibson this weekend in Nashville. I also heard a blurb on the radio this morning that BB King has come out in support of Gibson.
Of course, most musicians are big libs and therefore incapable of criticizing this administration.
More undeniable proof that Ayn Rand wasn't just an author... she was a modern day profit!
C’mon, a “blank” IS a finished product. Heck, back in my sawmill days, we used to export whole logs (peeled, but whole).
That staff is going to get tired of that ~ there are so many federales and so few of them.
A competitor? Well, once we find out we can take care of that problem on behalf of Gibson.
It is clear that Gibson understands the purpose of the Lacey Act, and understands that
fingerboard blanks are not finished fingerboards and thus Gibson is aware that its order for fingerboard blanks was an order for contraband ebony wood or ebony wood which is illegal to possess,” Seiler wrote.
This is the sentence that bothers me the most. Apparently, a strong defense is PROOF OF GUILT!!!
I wish we would tackle illegal immigration with the same zeal as pursuing Lacey Act violations. Dispatching a SWAT team to Gibson to enforce this purely bureaucratic fiat is just plain nuts. No wonder US businesses are scared of new regulations as at any minute a federal goon squad could break down the door and shut down your business for having the wrong light bulbs, a high flow toilet or violation of some obscure foreign law that the foreign country itself doesn’t enforce.
A long read, but if the allegations are true, why ain't the Feds bangin' down the doors...?
Indians cut down the tree.
Indians cut the tree into logs.
Indians transported the logs to the sawmill.
Indians cut the logs into smaller logs.
Indians cut the smaller logs into flat blanks.
If you cut a log into small pieces, it’s finished, raw stock................
I’m guessing that the First Lady wanted Gibson to give her a guitar to give to France’s First Lady and that they didn’t. This is pure speculation. Or maybe when the First Lady gave a Gibson guitar to Mrs. Sarkozy, a competitor complained that the FLOTUS should have given blah brand because blah supports Democrats. or something similar
Nah, the only reason they are doing this is because the wood is black.....................
Agreed, Ayn Rand was very prophetic. Maybe she was somewhat of a prophet. Her books certainly earned her a sizeable profit.
Martin. Big dem donor and main Gibson competitor.
That seems to be at the heart of the gov claims.
We can import veneer up to 6 mm. thick, slightly less than 1/4" thick. The complaint filed by the gov. stated that the blanks were around 11 mm thick, I seem to recall. As a previous post notes, this may have stemmed from Gibson's desire to improve quality. The reason fingerboards need to be made thicker is that the surface is milled to a radius to make playing easier. The radius differs between models and is determined by player preference.
The upshot: it is difficult, if not impossible for a company to specify scale length (for frets) and curvature when purchasing fingerboards. Also, the vendors are probably do not have the equipment to provide the degree of precision needed.
The best argument Gibson has is to point out that fingerboard blanks are milled to specific sizes and that these would be extremely difficult to economically use to any other.
The larger issue with Cites treaty and the Lacy act enforcement regime is that smaller entities cannot offer their products on the international market, but must submit to government limits on the scope of their market, which will also stipulate the price.
Cites is impoverishing people.
Here is an example of an iron-clad principal: whenever a law or ruling is created, imagine the most preposterous, exploitative and corrupt purpose to which it can be distorted to serve. Within two years time some bureaucrat will surpass your wildest imagining.
Nah - I don't think Ayn was a prophet. She understood human nature, man's constant quest for power and control over the masses, and the fact that history always repeats itself for a people who forget.
This is why upon reading the Founders and some of their warnings - one might assume THEY were prophets. It doesn't take a prophet or a genius to see how easily men are beguiled into accepting their own slavery by the hand of those they loft into power over them. There is nothing new under the sun.
Is this REALLY the most importnt thing our federal government has to do?? Destroy ANOTHER great American business??
(God, give me strength . . . )
No one is safe from this communist junta in DC.
I am going to buy some Gibson shirts or hats to wear in solidarity w this company.
Screw obama and his supporters.
I would tell the Feds what they could do with my wood.............
Martin is a competitor of Gibson. Fender is Gibson's main Competitor.
Gibson makes solid-body electrics, arch-top electrics, acoustics (with or without elctronics), and bluegrass (banjo, mandolin, and resonator guitars (dobro, although Gibson owns the name "Dobro"). Fender is considered the larger company (they're privately owned so exact figures aren't available), but Fender makes solid-body electrics, arch-top electrics (through its affiliate, Gretsch), acoustics (with or without electronics), and bluegrass (banjo, mandolin, and resonator guitars (dobro, although they're not remotely the quality of Gibson bluegrass).
Martin makes acoustic guitars (with or without electronics).
Martin competes with Gibson's factory in Bozeman, Montana, which has not been raided.
Fender's much larger than Martin.
But it is Martin who has been named throughout this story from the beginning...not Fender. It is Martin who has received these very same blanks in the very same way, but only Gibson has been rousted for it. The CEO of Martin is a heavy dem supporter.
A blogger named Martin as Gibson's competitor early on, which was easy, because Chris Martin IV is an unabashed Democrat. The blogger new enough about guitars to have heard of Martin. Try tracking down the owner and relatively new CEO of Fender.
That blog also said that Martin "used" the same wood, not that Martin got it in the same way. As of course, the 'use' of the wood was never at issue.
That blog mentioned Gibson CEO's Henry Juszkiewicz's few Republican contributions and those he made to an industry group; the blog didn't mention that Juszkiewicz also contributed to Democrats. In fact, the blogger mentioned that he used opensecrets.org, but he didn't mention that the most recent contribution shown on opensecrets.org for Juszkiewicz is one to Democrat Congressman Cooper of Tennessee.
The blogger also didn't mention how involved Juszkiewicz and Gibson are in liberal causes, nor the close relationship between Juszkiewicz/Gibson and Bill Clinton.
From that point, it was like the kindergarten game of 'telephone.' It just got repeated.
And yes, Chris Martin IV is a very heavy Democratic supporter. Other than that, he's pretty quiet. Juszkiewicz is sort of like Ted Turner. He's loud, he's brash, he's everywhere. He's involved in all kinds of liberal causes (Poetry slams for diversity and tolerance? United Nations day of diversity and tolerance? Rainforest alliance? John Lennon touring museum bus? MTV Rock the Vote? Clinton Global Initiative? - that's all Juszkiewicz, not Chris Martin).
First, no new wood is involved. This is the wood that was seized in the August 24, 2011, raid.
The new lawsuit is United States vs. 25 Bundles of Indian Ebony Wood, Case No. 3-11-CV-00913 (U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee). Earlier this week, a U.S District Judge denied all of Gibson's motions in the ongoing civil case (United States v. Ebony Wood in Assorted Forms, 3-10-cv-00747) and stayed that civil suit after reviewing evidence that continuing to allow civil discovery, at this time, would likely adversely affect the investigation and the prosecution of a related criminal investigation. The evidence came from the Environmental Crimes Section, Environment and Natural Resources Division of the United States Department of Justice, not the Civil Forfeiture Division that was prosecuting the civil forfeiture action.
The court had originally heard the evidence in June and was asked to stay the action then but, after a status conference hearing on July 29, Gibson indicated that it would fully cooperate with the government in answering interrogatories that had been served on Gibson in November 10. The government (not the court) had given Gibson multiple extensions to answer, but Gibson had not fully answered them. Gibson failed to answer the interrogatories, the government renewed its motion for a stay on September 21, and the District Court denied all of Gibsons motions and stayed the case on September 28.
There are 68 filings in the stayed action - some 178 pages long, with exhibits of internal Gibson emails about dealing with Roger Thunam, a convicted smuggler whose wood was under current seizure by the Malagasy government (a Gibson employee, named Gene Nix spent 2-1/2 weeks in Madagascar and reported back that there was no legal source for the wood)- but they suggest that the target(s) of the criminal investigation may be Theodor Nagel GmbH, a Germany company whose exclusive source for Madagascar ebony and rosewood was Thunam. The owners of Nagel also own a company in California called Luthiers Mercantile International.
Nagel and LMI come into play in the August 2011 raids.
What I know about the facts keep changing because the filings in the civil forfeiture action contains more information than the original affidavit for the search warrant.
On June 10, 2011, Atheena Exports of India, documented the export of finished parts of musical instruments to the final consignee, Theodor Nagel GmbH (the German company) in the U.S. The customs paper described the product as a finished part for musical instrument under the international Harmonized Schedule for customs and tariffs (9209 Ill leave off the sub categories).
On June 27, 2011, a shipment of Indian ebony is stopped by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents at the Dallas, Texas Port of Entry (the DFW airport). Theres no Lacey Act declaration. The shipment is marked as 4408 (WOOD VENEER <6MM THICKNESS). Its not marked 9209, which would have required payment of a tariff. The paperwork says to notify Luthiers Mercantile International of California upon arrival and to ship interstate to the address of a Red Arrow Delivery Service Warehouse in Nashville. Nothing on the paperwork says theres a final consignee in Nashville other than Nagel. Gibsons name doesnt appear anywhere on any paperwork.
Veneer (4408) makes sense. A guitar maker uses it on the headstock of guitars and bends it to make the back and sides of acoustic guitars. Indias HS specifically says that 4408 products may be exported without tariff.
Customs agents inspect the container. It doesnt contain veneer. It contains rough pieces of cut wood about 10mm thick theyre fretboard blanks. Since 1993, customs rules have said that guitar fretboard blanks are a 4407 item (cut, split, or chipped wood over 6mm thick). Guitar makers (luthiers) had sought that HS classification because it kept them from paying a tariff on a 9209 finished item.
Unfortunately, Indian law prohibits the export of 4407 items (Indias HS is online; Ill post it for those who doubt it).
Natalie Swango, the General Manager for LMI shows up and produces a Lacey Act declaration that was signed back on June 17, before the shipment arrived. It was never filed. The Lacey Act declaration shows Gibson Guitars as the final consignee with a note, Attention: Herb Jenkins. Herb Jenkins orders wood for Gibson.
According to the Wildlife Inspector (and confirmed by Swango, because she later says she was mistaken in telling the WI), she says that Gibson is the final consignee and the import paperwork is wrong.
The feds track the shipment to the Red Arrow Delivery Service Warehouse.
There, they find another shipment of fretboard blanks from India. This shipment came in through Canada on paperwork listing LMI as the final consignee. The WI speaks with a manager at the warehouse (her names in the documents) who says that the wood belongs to Gibson and is delivered to Gibson as Gibson asks for it. The manager also gives the WI an email from LMI stating that LMI is not the final consignee, despite whats shown on the import and customs papers. Gibson Guitars is the final consignee.
The feds raid Gibson and the Red Arrow warehouse and seize wood, computers and a thumb drive.
Contrary to everything that was written in the press and reported on blogs for a month, the feds seized Indian ebony, not rosewood. That doesnt make much of a difference, but it does show that you cant believe all the details you read.
LMI has now submitted revised paperwork stating that the correct import code should have been 9209.
So . . . U.S. law says that fretboard blanks are a 4407 item and arent subject to tariff. U.S. law has said that since at least 1993. Indian law prohibits the export of 4407 items.
U.S. law says that finished products for musical instruments are 9209. Indian law permits their export.
In this case, LMI and Theodor Nagel tried three different HS codes, avoided paying tariffs, changed the HS code and description to a product that Indian law permitted to be exported without tariff, engaged in some kind of strange clusterdance regarding who happened to be the true final consignee depending on the time of day.
LMI and Nagel are probably the targets of an ongoing criminal investigation, based on whats happened in the other civil forfeiture action.
So . . . as I said. Its not nearly as simple as it seems.
Ive read all of the documents in the Madagascar case that was just stayed. Ive been following it since it was filed. Ive read the Gibson emails and other statements as well as some of Gibsons admissions in discovery.
In the case of the August 2011 raid, I think the government is technically correct on the law but has taken a position that isnt practical. However, Gibson imported fretboard blanks from India eleven other times in the last thirteen months and the government didnt confiscate any of those shipments, nor raid Gibson any of those times. The involvement of LMI and Nagel, the repeated changing of the HS code, the use of ghost final consignees, and misleading descriptions (that, of itself, a Lacey Act violation), could be the problem here. That could make the wood contraband when LMI/Nagel imported it and before Gibson touched it.
I think Gibson should get its wood back from the 2011 raid unless there are damning documents in Gibsons computers, like the motherlode of damning emails in Gibsons computers regarding Gibsons knowing purchase of Madagascar wood, our from under government seizure, from a convicted wood trafficker just released from custody, after noting that there was no legal or legitimate source for the wood. As for the Madagascar ebony? If you read those documents, when you almost certainly agree that Gibson knew it was taking a risk (or knew it was doing something illegal) and it got caught.
The 2011 raids? Whats the government going to do? Ask the Indian producers to run a router along one side of the fretboard blank?
Economics won’t be a factor in the defense. They will argue that it is finished the way it is imported. I hope they win.
It is morally indefensible that they were raided by SWAT teams. In what way is an established iconic guitar manufacturer a threat to the police serving a warrant? A couple of men in suits and some people with side arms with would have sufficed. The “show of force” is a real problem for me and I hope it becomes an issue in the campaign.
When Democrats are in power, they seem to love using these heavily armed divisions to raid American people - Ruby Ridge, Waco, Elian Gonzales, Gibson Guitar... the list goes on. Now it could be a case of selective memory, but I truly don’t recall similar types of raids under GHWB.
“The CEO needs to send a check to the DNC or Obama re-election campaign and the heat will, unexpectedly, turn off. If they were raiding other guitar entities, it wouldnt look so obvious, but, this administration doesnt care how obvious they look; they know they will get away with it.”
All these Federales get their paychecks no matter what and no Fed is ever ever ever fired for stupidity or incompetence. They are making it so that Gibson workers will not get their paychecks. Feds are heartless cruel bassturds and anti-business. Do they ever suffer for their evil actions against American companies that provide good jobs to American workers?
Obama always talks about jobs...the stunning hypocrisy here. At the most the Feds should give Gibson a stern warning and tell them not to do this again