Man made machine gun
Feds say Crawford County gunsmith manufactured illegal weapon
By JOHN BARTLETT
and JIM MARTIN
MEADVILLE: Darrell Sivik has protested taxes, burned the United Nations
flag in public and taunted the Federal Communications Commission with
his low-power radio station.
But it was his work as a gunsmith that got the West Mead Township man
Sivik, 55, illegally manufactured a machine gun, according to the
charges filed against him Thursday by federal law-enforcement officials.
Pennsylvania state police and agents of the FBI and Federal Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives raided his Williamson Road
home and adjacent business Thursday morning, taking Sivik into custody.
Sivik was charged with one count of unlawfully receiving, possessing
and/or transferring an unregistered firearm; one count of conspiracy to
unlawfully receive, possess and/or transfer an unregistered firearm; and
one count of unlawfully manufacturing a firearm, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth
The manufacturing count specifically refers to a section of federal law
that relates to machine guns, she said.
Sivik could face up to 25 years on the combined charges, she said.
Although well-known as a local gunsmith, Sivik earned a national
reputation for what he calls Braveheart Radio, "home of the Pennsylvania
American Patriot Radio Network."
The low-power FM station rebroadcasts programs heavy in fundamentalism,
conspiracy theories, "new world order" warnings and so-called patriot
movement commentary, along with his own local broadcasts.
Clint Dare, who describes himself as commander of the Michigan Militia
Corps of Wolverines, claims Sivik's operation of that station is what
made him a target of federal authorities.
"Mr. Sivik was targeted last year," said Dare, who is working to rally
nationwide support for Sivik. "Basically, they are trying to shut down
his First Amendment rights because he's doing more damage to them by
educating people than he ever would by pulling a gun."
Although his arrest prompted cries of concern from militia members
across the country, there's little to suggest that Sivik is a member of
any active militia group.
In past interviews, Sivik has described himself as a patriotic Christian
American, a member of the Patriot Movement and a member of the
Pennsylvania Militia, which he described as an unorganized group.
Sivik's own efforts, including his participation three years ago in a
countywide tax protest, have been organized and peaceful, if not always
"People are hot. People are mad," Sivik said in a 2001 interview,
explaining how he and fellow organizers were able to secure 5,000 names
on petitions presented to county commissioners.
As a township supervisor in West Mead Township, Bill Rosenberger has had
a front-row seat to some of Sivik's interactions with local government.
"He came to township meetings from time to time," Rosenberger said. "He
dominated some of the meetings, but he wasn't unruly or discourteous."
Sivik believes in a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and
expects local government to adhere to it, Rosenberger said.
"He was pretty far to the right," Rosenberger said. "Every once in a
while, the stuff he said made some sense. But a lot of times he was
overcautious about the powers of the government."
The raid on Sivik's home, conducted by more than two dozen federal
agents and state troopers, some carrying fully automatic weapons, had
some asking their own questions Friday about the government and its show
"Poor Darrell could hardly walk across the yard. I don't know what kind
of a threat he could be to anyone," said Robert Hockenberry, who
participated with Sivik in anti-U.N. demonstrations in Meadville's
Diamond Park two years ago. "I don't know what the ATF had on their
minds. They had a whole hell of a lot of people."
Hockenberry said he was not a close friend of Sivik's, although he
respected his views on the United Nations and other subjects while
differing with him on a number of issues.
"I probably haven't spoken to him more than a couple of times in the
last couple of years," Hockenberry said. "We've both been outspoken
about the government."
Sivik remained in the custody of federal marshals Friday, but U.S.
Attorney Buchanan said she could not divulge where he was being held.
A detention hearing is set for 11 a.m. Monday before Federal Magistrate
Susan Paradise Baxter in Erie.
The affidavit of probable cause and accompanying criminal complaint that
detail the charges and allegations were sealed. They are expected to be
unsealed Monday, Buchanan said.
"Unfortunately, we are very limited in what we can say because it
remains sealed," she said.
JOHN BARTLETT, can be reached at (814) 724-6979, 870-1723 or by e-mail.
JIM MARTIN, can be reached at (814) 724-6397 or by e-mail.
Last changed: March 27. 2004 6:12AM
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