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Former Oakland pharmacist convicted of firearm charges

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 11:22 a.m.

A federal jury on Tuesday convicted a former Oakland pharmacist on two firearm charges stemming from an April 2009 drug bust in Homestead that led to a search of his home.

Raymond J. Zareck, 56, who has a prior felony conviction, claimed that the shotgun police found in his home belonged to his brother, Ronald, who had inadvertently left it there a decade earlier.

Prosecutors argued that ownership of a firearm isn't a prerequisite to possessing one under the two laws that prohibit drug abusers and convicted felons from possessing firearms. A 12-member jury agreed.

U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti scheduled Zareck's sentencing for March 15.

Zareck was arrested during a drug bust at The Waterfront in Homestead. During the bust, police noticed a fuse coming from the center console of Zareck's car and discovered it was connected to a homemade explosive.

Homestead police filed state charges, which are pending, against Zareck in connection with the explosives and drug paraphernalia.

Zareck filed a federal lawsuit against Homestead police Officers Matthew Fusco and James Wintruba, claiming that they arrested him without cause and beat him at the police station when he refused to become an informant.

Conti ruled before the trial that the arrest and subsequent search warrant were valid.

Fusco and Wintruba admit there was a fight at the station, but they say it started when Zareck tried to swallow eight oxycodone pills, two rocks of crack and seven stamp bags of heroin confiscated during his arrest.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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