State agents Tuesday arrested the owner of a gun shop and security school, charging him with fraudulently certifying he witnessed an armed security guard applicant pass a firearms proficiency test when, the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services alleges, he did not instruct the applicant.
Frank Abay, 43, is one of about 20 state-licensed firearms instructors the Team6 Investigators has confirmed are under investigation for providing fraudulent firearms proficiency certificates to about 2,400 armed security guards.
He is charged with four felonies: scheme to defraud, forgery, uttering a fraudulent firearms training certificate and witness tampering.
Abay was a subject in a Team6 Investigation last week that traced one apparently fraudulent certificate to an armed guard who killed a barber shop owner in the Little Haiti mall he was patrolling, and was then shot to death by a Miami police officer.
Abay had no connection to that guard, Ruben Pupo.
When Team 6 tried to verify Pupo’s certification, the owner and manager of the gun range where the license state he got his training said Pupo had never been on their range.
Asked why the instructor whose name appears on Pupo’s certificate remains in good standing, allowed to continue certifying other armed security guard applicants, department press secretary Erin Gillespie said, “Unfortunately specific cases that are under investigation we’re not able to give detailed information on, but this is a matter we take very seriously and our investigation is continuing.”
Abay saw that first hand around 3:30 this afternoon, when state agents entered his SOS Security and Services offices adjacent to his Miami Guns gun shop and range and walked him out in handcuffs.
Both weeks ago, when first questioned by Team 6, and today after his arrest, Abay denied doing anything wrong.
But the state said an undercover employee it sent into Abay’s office undercover last month was able to walk out with a firearms proficiency certificate signed by Abay after paying him $92 and firing a few rounds on the range outside Abay’s presence. New applicants are required by law to undergo 28 hours of training, including proving firearms proficiency by having an instructor witness the firing of 144 rounds at targets on a gun range.
“Abay at no time ever went on to the gun range and taught the class as required,” the department said in statement to Team 6. Yet, it continued, Abay signed a certificate claiming the undercover employee completed 28 hours of training, including a range score of 190 and a score of 100 on the written exam.