SHIRLEY -- Sixty-two-year-old Jeffrey Dusti remains held without bail as he faces charges he beat and kicked and elderly acquaintance who owed him money, and charges he had an arsenal of rifles, shotguns, silencers and ammunition that he was not licensed to have.
A judge has ruled that Dusti is too dangerous to be released pending trial on those charges.
But Dusti's attorney, Michael Gerace, has spoken out to say that his client is being prosecuted and vilified for little more than living with a woman who has a large and properly licensed collection of firearms.
Gerace has said in court that Dusti has no criminal record as an adult.
"The DA likes to use the term 'arsenal,' but it is a collection," Gerace said. "Charging Jeff with this is like charging cop's wife for possession of firearms because she has no license and the cop stores the firearms in his home."
Prosecutors have said Dusti's wife, Colleen McNamara Dusti, had a license to possess firearms, but that she legally registered only 11 of them. Prosecutors say her license was immediately revoked when police found unsecured firearms inside the couple's home when it was searched on Oct. 30. McNamara Dusti has not been charged, but prosecutors have said that may change.
State and Shirley police searched the couple's home and found 58 firearms, 44 silencers, and about 35,000 rounds of rounds of ammunition. Dusti is facing nearly 100 criminal firearms charges.
A police report has even suggested that Dusti may have ties to a motorcycle gang, a suggestion Gerace called "absurd on its face."
"The fact is, he has been a lifelong business man in the town of Shirley," Gerace wrote in an email. "He owned an auto body shop for many years and sold it over 10 years ago. Since, he has managed real estate that he and his wife have accumulated over the years."
It appears the couple did not attempt to hide the guns in their home. Large signs on their home and garage contain an image of a gun along with a warning that nothing inside is worth dying for.
Gerace said prosecutors have suggested McNamara Dusti purchased guns for Dusti, but in reality McNamara Dusti was a collector herself.
"The day of the search, when she came home to find police at her home, she was carrying (with her license in her possession)," Gerace wrote in an email. "She has a long history of going to the Shirley gun club to target shoot and she is an avid collector."
Gerace said McNamara Dusti has both a Class A firearms license and a collector's license, both of which legally covered all of the guns in the home.
Prosecutors and state police disagree, and say McNamara Dusti has legally registered only 11 of the firearms found in the home.
Gerace also said the silencers Dusti is accused of possessing were not actually silencers.
"The alleged silencers are non-functioning," Gerace said. "They are empty cans that do not have the ability to muffle or silence a firearm. They also lack 'through hole,' so no projectile could exit from one of them."
The search of Dusti's home was conducted as police also had a warrant for his arrest on domestic charges connected to allegations he beat and kicked and acquaintance over a $7,000 debt the alleged victim said he owed Dusti because he got robbed in Leominster while trying to buy pills for Dusti. He was arrested on that warrant as police arrived at his home with a search warrant as well.
Dusti is due back in Ayer District Court for a hearing.
"Your honor, please," Dusti said softly when Judge Tejal Mehta ordered him held without bail following a hearing earlier this month.
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