RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Authorities on Long Island made a huge gun bust on Thursday.
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota announced the seizure of more than 300 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition from a home in Centereach.
“We see weapons all over the place,” Spota said. “More than 85 illegal handguns and 250 rifles, shotguns and what you will see is a machine gun. This fellow had more firepower than the detectives when they went to search the house. And those weapons, his room overlooks that high school.”
Jay Steiner allegedly ran an illegal gunsmithing business out of his home within 300 feet of Centereach High School property.
But in an exclusive interview with CBS 2, Steiner contended that he did nothing wrong.
“They were locked up and unloaded. I taught firearms safety. As an instructor, I know what to do to safeguard firearms,” Steiner told CBS 2. ”What they said I’m doing isn’t illegal, not as I did it, not as I understand the law.”
But Spota said the loaded weapons were found in open drawers and elsewhere around the house.
Prosecutors charged Steiner with criminal possession of a weapon.
Steiner’s attorney said the 66-year old used to be a federally licensed gun dealer.
Spota said they are still investigating what Steiner was doing with all the weapons. According to the DA, authorities also found metal parts in the house that can change rifles into machine guns.
“Just possession of this piece of metal is considered to be possession of a machine gun,” Spota said.
Neighbors said they knew Steiner was repairing guns but didn’t know his license expired almost a decade ago.
“With kids all around. We have the school in the back and it’s scary,” neighbor Eileen Radzisky told CBS 2′s Carolyn Gusoff.
Prosecutors said scarier still is the fact that Steiner’s Tree Street house is in the middle of a pattern of 25 recent burglaries.
“Had a person, a kid, a professional burglar, whatever, gone into that house,” Spota said, “in no time flat, 85 handguns would be on the street today.
Spota said most of the guns were not under lock and key.
Steiner is free on $25,000 bail.
At a news conference Thursday, Spota played video footage of a demonstration of the use of a device, two of which were unsecured and found by DA detectives in Steiner’s basement, used to convert an AR-15 rifle into a fully automatic machine gun.
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