Monday, August 5, 2013
Whatever Happened to Lancaster Arms?
It’s been a long time since I updated this blog, but I know some of you out there are wondering whatever happened to Lancaster Arms and Chet Durda. Well, as many of you know, Chet Durda settled his case with the Arizona Attorney General’s office. According to the Arizona AG, Durda was mostly uncooperative during the entire matter, stalling at every possible opportunity. The court even had to issue a “Motion to Compel” because Durda would not provide the requested documentation concerning how he was running his business.
Nonetheless, he eventually agreed to settle with the AG, and to pay the State of Arizona $70,000. Most of that ($67,000) was for restitution to his victims, and $3,000 was to cover court costs.
Apparently not knowing that Chet Durda’s word is meaningless, the Arizona AG agreed to let him make monthly payments until the debt was paid in full. But according to the Arizona AG, Chet Durda never paid even a single penny of the judgment. He immediately defaulted on the judgment, and that judgment was recently sent to a collections agency for further action. Someone speculated in a previous comment thread that Chet Durda “got away with it”, but that is not the case. The judgment against him was personal (i.e., the judgment was against him as a person, not against the business), so Durda still legally owes the entire $70,000. And if anything, the collection agency is likely to be far more aggressive at collecting the money than the AG’s office ever was because…well…because that’s what collection agencies do.
Of course, this judgment from Arizona is just one of Chet Durda’s many, many debts. A cursory look at court and public record filings in Arizona reveals that as of 2012 he owed about $75,000 to a property management company called Estrella Associates, and $31,000 to the IRS in unpaid taxes. As of 2011 he owed $8,000 to a Steven Delbarto. As of 2010 he owed $6,000 to CMRE Financial Services. Also as of last year (although I don’t know if the case is still active), Chet Durda was being sued in Federal Court by a former business partner, who alleged that Durda was guilty of “breach of contract, conversion and fraud”. Durda borrowed $200,000 from Allen Myers and, predictably, never paid him back. Hmm…I think I see a pattern here.
And I could go on and on, because if you look at the Maricopa County Recorder’s office records, you’ll see that over the last two decades ole’ Chester Durda has made something of a hobby out of borrowing money that he never intends to repay. Although I suspect that few of you reading this are even remotely surprised.
As for Lancaster Arms, Chet Durda supposedly sold the business to a new owner. That new owner unwisely decided to keep the Lancaster name (which is worthless given what Durda did to it), calling the new entity “Lancaster Armory”. I don’t know whether this was a straight and legitimate sale of the business, or whether it was a “paper sale” only to get Durda’s name out of it. I don’t wish to speculate too much in this regard, as if it was a legitimate sale than the new owner deserves a chance to rebuild the business.
I do find it curious however that the new owner would choose to keep the name in place, since anyone who did even 10 minutes worth of research on the Internet would – I think – come to the conclusion that they’d want to change the “Lancaster” name as fast as humanly possible. In the firearms world, and with AK-style rifles in particular, the “Lancaster” name has come to be associated with a fraudulent operation run by an incompetent hustler. I can understand buying a business name for the associated brand equity, but in this case, I would say the “Lancaster” name actually has negative brand equity. I suppose it’s theoretically possible to turn that around, but I’m not certain why a new business owner would want to start out in that hole to begin with. Then again, nothing associated with Lancaster Arms ever made any sense, so…C’est la vie.
Welcome to LancasterArmsSucks.blogspot.com
This site exist to help police a firearms manufacturer that has decided to run its business using questionable ethics. Too often, there is not enough complete, accurate information on the Internet about companies engaged in the manufature of firearms. It is my hope that this blog shall serve as a useful tool to help guide potential customers of Lancaster Arms to a fully-informed decision. As of the start date of this blog, many, many people feel as though Lancaster Arms does not run an honest business. We'll let the chips fall where they may...