Former family members set sights on 'Sons of Guns' star in lawsuit
As if its reality show on Discovery Channel weren't enough, Red Jacket Firearms is the subject of another drama unfolding in Baton Rouge federal court involving federal agents and an ex-wife. In a civil case itself filled with intrigue worthy of an episode or two, Sons of Guns star Will Hayden and the company he founded are being accused by former family members of securities fraud for allegedly issuing worthless stock certificates.
The suit concerns 17 shares that Hayden and then-wife Trudy Lee issued in 2002, just as the firearms business was getting off the ground. Using generic stock forms they downloaded from the Internet, they gave 10 shares in Red Jacket Firearms to Joseph Radford in return for carpentry work on their retail store; two shares to Lee's son, Joshua Currey, for his birthday; and two shares to Earl Lee, Trudy Lee's father.
The problem came eight years later, when Hayden had to forfeit his federal firearms license issued to Red Jacket Inc. after running into trouble with the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms over "record-keeping discrepancies," according to court documents. He transferred an inventory of automatic firearms to a new company, Red Jacket Firearms LLC. The three shareholders allege they were never informed of the transfer, and subsequently learned their shares are now worthless.
"William Hayden's sole intention in transferring the firearms was to comply with the ATF and federal regulations regarding automatic firearms," Hayden's attorney, Michael Reese Davis, writes in a memo. "Mr. Hayden did not intend to defraud or deceive anyone in connection with the stock certificates or in connection with the transfer of the firearms."
In one of the most recent developments in the case, ex-wife Trudy Lee voluntarily came forward with an affidavit supporting not her own son and father, but rather her ex-husband. In a memo to the judge, attorneys for the three plaintiffs cried foul, alleging Hayden had begun dating Lee shortly after she was named as a potential witness in the case, then had her arrested for simple burglary two days after the affidavit favorable to him was made official. Attorneys for Red Jacket have asked U.S. District Judge James Brady to dismiss the case. Meanwhile, Discovery Channel plans to begin airing the fourth season of Sons of Guns on April 19.
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