Charges Against Phoenix Gun Shop Owner Thrown Out

Criminal charges against a Phoenix gun shop owner accused of supplying firearms to Mexican drug cartels were thrown out of court Wednesday.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Gottsfield ruled the prosecution's evidence wasn't sufficient to support conviction based on a technical legal issue.

Gottsfield issued a directed verdict of not guilty for George Iknadosian, who faced a 21-count indictment for fraud, money-laundering and other offenses.

Iknadosian, 47, was accused of selling more than 700 "weapons of choice" to straw buyers, knowing that the firearms like A-K 47s were bought on behalf of Mexican narcotics syndicates.

The straw buyers all pleaded guilty and became cooperative witnesses in the case but signed statements at the time of purchase falsely declaring that they were acquiring the weapons for themselves, according to prosecutors.

Gottsfield concluded that while those documents were falsified, the purchasers all were legally eligible to buy firearms, so the deception did not amount to a "material falsification" under the law.

Gottsfield dismissed jurors and granted acquittal under a Rule 20 motion sought by defense attorney Thomas Baker. Under Arizona law, Rule 20 holds that a case must be thrown out if the state's evidence is inadequate for conviction.

The Arizona Attorney General's Office said it planned to appeal the judge's ruling.