Trial begins for Oakland pharmacist accused of illegally having firearms

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An Oakland pharmacist accused of possession of a shotgun and ammunition despite being a felon and a drug addict went on trial today in U.S. District Court, and his attorney told jurors that he will show that the weapon wasn't the defendant's.

In 2009, Homestead police stopped Raymond J. Zareck, 56, believing he was on his way to see a drug dealer.

Today, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Johnston said that Zareck swallowed the narcotics with which he was caught. Then when police searched his home, they found the weapons and drug paraphernalia, she said.

Zareck's attorney, G. William Bills, held the shotgun -- a Remington Model 870 -- over his head for the jury.

"It was not Raymond Zareck's," he said. "It was his brother's."

The brother, said Mr. Bills, bought the gun, made in 1954, from their aunt. But he accidentally left it in the Oakland house when he returned to his own South Carolina home, Mr. Bills said.

Zareck was never seen to touch it, Mr. Bills said.

U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti is overseeing the trial, for which 14 jurors were chosen.

Zareck is charged with two counts: possessing a gun while being a felon and also while being a drug addict. He pleaded no contest to felony drug charges in 1989 and pleaded guilty to felony drug charges in 1990.

Mr. Bills said he takes prescription narcotics for injuries suffered in a car crash.

Zareck has filed a civil suit against Homestead police alleging that he was beaten during the 2009 arrest and his glasses were stomped.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord.


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