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CNN/Money: Smith & Wesson chief quits over crime

Chairman of the nation's No. 2 gun maker resigns over past armed robbery, a newspaper report says.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money)—James Joseph Minder, chairman of handgun maker Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., resigned after a published report revealed he'd spent as much as 15 years in prison decades ago for armed robberies and a bank heist.

The Republican, a daily newspaper in Springfield, Mass., reported Thursday that Minder confirmed his resignation without realizing that the company had not made an official announcement.

Smith & Wesson (SWB: up $0.04 to $1.58, Research, Estimates), the nation's second-largest gun manufacturer after Sturm, Ruger (RGR: Research, Estimates), told CNN/Money that it plans to release a statement later Friday but did not wish to comment on the newspaper report or confirm Minder's resignation at this time.

Minder's convictions were unknown to Smith & Wesson until the Arizona Republic newspaper chronicled Minder's criminal past earlier this month. Smith & Wesson is based in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Republic article reported that Minder maintains he had never tried to cover up his past, and that the reason he failed to disclose his criminal past to Smith & Wesson earlier was because nobody had asked the question.

Minder, 74, had spent time in prison in the 1950s and 1960s for a string of armed robberies and an attempted prison escape, according to the Republic. During that time, the Detroit News said he was known for carrying a 16-gauge, sawed-off shotgun.

Minder was sentenced to 3-1/2 to 10 years in state prison for robbing a store while attending University of Michigan as a journalism student, he told the Republic.

Guy's got balls. He didn't tell anyone about his criminal past because no one asked the question? Damn—whatever happened to full disclosure? Every job application I've ever filled out has included a section wherein I'm to list any felony convictions. Granted, the applications I've filled out weren't for executive-level positions, so perhaps that's the difference.

Now then. When I first saw this headline on CNN's home page, where the link was titled "Smith & Wesson chief quits over robbery," I assumed the story involved Minder's resignation because he had been robbed—some sort of embarrassment at the CEO of a gun co. unsuccessfully defending himself against a robbery.