Temperanceville man acquitted of making a false statement on a firearm purchase

July 9, 2021
 |
Accomack County Courthouse

By Linda Cicoira

A Temperanceville man was acquitted Thursday in Accomack Circuit Court of making a false statement on a firearm purchase form and attempted possession of a firearm by a felon because the judge believed he had no intent to break the law.

Sixty-five-year-old Charles Peter Castelluzzo testified that he thought a 1980 charge of possession of cocaine was a misdemeanor and was dismissed because he was a first-time drug offender who said he did what he was told to do more than 30 years ago. He quit using drugs, did community service, and the police in New Jersey gave him his guns back, which had been confiscated because of the charge. He testified that he only used them for target practice.

When his 20-year-old son wanted to buy a .9 mm in April 2020, Castelluzzo went with him to a gun store. His son wasn’t old enough to make the purchase and Castelluzzo “forgot his reading glasses.” So, the younger man filled out the paperwork and Castelluzzo signed. The store didn’t sell the gun because the form was rejected.

The son didn’t know about the charge. “It occurred before I was born,” he testified. He assumed that he filed out the form correctly. “All my friends had their parents buy their guns for them,” he added.

Castelluzzo signed without reading, but he thought his 1980 charge was a misdemeanor. In New Jersey, charges are listed by degree. The possession charge was a third-degree. The defendant said the gun would have been transferred to his son when he was old enough.

After a brief recess, Judge W. Revell Lewis III said the defendant was convicted of a felony. “New Jersey does have a first offender statute that was not applied in this case,” the judge said. “The problem I have is intent. I believe that Mr. Castelluzzo may have been mistaken about whether or not he” was a felon. “I can understand why you would be confused about this … Now you know sir. Never apply again for a firearm because if you come back again you are going to be found guilty.”

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