Gibson CEO Stands by Justice Department Criticism

Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz speaks to reporters after federal raids in August of 2011.

Gibson Guitar still feels victimized by federal agents but the Nashville-based company says it is “gratified” to avoid criminal charges. The company will pay penalties totaling $350,000 to settle illegal logging claims.

Gibson says in a written statement the settlement will help the guitar manufacturer get back to business and avoid millions of dollars in legal fees had a case gone to trial. But CEO Henry Juszkiewicz says he doesn’t “retreat” from anything he said over the last year, such as accusing federal authorities of treating him like a drug dealer.

He still thinks U.S. Fish and Wildlife went overboard when agents entered Gibson’s factories with weapons to confiscate exotic hardwoods. The company was “inappropriately targeted,” according to Juszkiewicz, who says he still wants to work toward changing the century-old conservation law known as the Lacey Act.

The government says Gibson “has acknowledged that it failed to act on information” that ebony it was getting from Madagascar might have violated laws intended to limit overharvesting. Here’s how Gibson puts it: “we can always do better.”

Gibson is forfeiting $260,000-worth of ebony. But as part of the deal the company says it will get to keep the Indian rosewood that was seized last year.

EARLIER: Gibson Settles Lacey Act Dispute

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