87 guns seized in Lake Forest raid

May 9, 2008 4:02:15 PM PDT
Investigators say 87 guns have been seized in a raid on a multi-million dollar home in Lake Forest.A Lake Forest man was in custody Friday night in connection with an arsenal of weapons seized from his multi-million dollar home.

Benjamin Stevens, 49, is charged with 90 felony counts of possessing weapons without a valid firearms owner identification card.

Stevens will have to come up with 10 percent of the bond, or $70,000, to get out of jail. His attorney told the bond hearing that the Chicago options trader was a gun collector who had amassed his safely stored cache over many years.

Law enforcement sources say that among the weapons found were two .50 caliber M-2 machine guns that were typical of the vehicle mounted firepower US troops are using in the Iraq war. Capable of shredding cars, authorities say they're being tested to see if they were fully automatic, making them restricted weapons.

Law enforcement officials also say 50,000 rounds of ammunition were found in the basement of this mansion in Lake Forest. Some of it will be sent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fierarms' crime lab in Maryland to determine if its armor piercing -- also illegal and likely to result in federal charges against Stevens if it is.

"I'm really shocked. I never would have guessed it," said Judy Goldberg, who lives across the street from Stevens.

Illinois State police referred questions to the Lake County state's attorney, who declined to comment. Police sources say Stevens' FOID county card was revoked in 2002 after he was charged but not convicted in a domestic battery case.

The options trader, who public records list as the owner of Stevens and Jerold Inc., a trading firm located in a Loop office building, was also charged in March with misdemeanor domestic battery in which he allegedly pushed his 19-year-old son and struck both his wife and 17-year-old daughter. He was out on bond of $5,000 on those charges, which will be heard in court later this month.

Firearms owners' identification - or a FOID card - can only be revoked for one of three reasons -- criminal conviction, order of protection or mental instability charges brought against the owner of that card. Law enforcement officials said it is the third reason that Stevens' FOID card was revoked in 2002. The maximum time in jail that can be served for the state charges that are being faced right now by Stevens is five years.

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