Federal prosecutors have charged Gordon H. Dawson, 50, of El Cajon, California, United States and three others with trafficking in illegal firearms and ammunition. He is a businessman who studied automotive mechanical repair and business at the American Business College in Chicago, Illinois, USA from 1981 to 1982.
The other three are William “Bill” Lee Schmeck, 27, of Santee, California, Peter Michael Scherer, 23, of Alpine, California and Herschi Perry Excell, 23, of Vista, California. The identity of a fifth suspect, a U.S. Marine Corps member currently in Okinawa, Japan, has yet to be released.
Dawson worked for Center City Ford Leasing in San Diego, California from February 1981 to February 1988. He joined Solar Turbines in San Diego as a quality test technician in November 1988.
In 1990, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Naval Investigative Service and the San Diego Sheriff’s Office started to run an undercover investigation. On April 15, 1991, federal agents with search warrants seized a virtual arsenal that allegedly belonged to Dawson, Schmeck, Scherer, Excell and the fifth suspect.
The agents found flares, grenade launchers, plastic explosives, rifles and shotguns that were all for sale. In particular, an automatic weapon, two flares, six grenades and eight assault rifles were found at Dawson’s house in El Cajon.
On April 16, 1991, Dawson, Schmeck, Scherer and Excell pleaded not guilty at a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Barry Ted Moskowitz. Bail was set at $270,000 for Dawson, who was charged with six felony firearm counts.