An undercover investigation into the sale of assault weapons at gun shops throughout Nassau County resulted in the arrests of five store owners and four of their employees.  Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced the results of the 10-month probe Thursday afternoon.

Under New York State law, only police officers, peace officers, and duly authorized members of the military are legally permitted to possess assault weapons. One category of an assault weapon is defined as a semi-automatic rifle with the ability to accept a magazine carrying more than five rounds of ammunition and that must also have at least two additional characteristics. These additional characteristics can include a folding or telescoping stock, a protruding pistol grip, a bayonette mount, a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor, or a grenade launcher.

Rice said that shop owners were breaking the law by temporarily modifying the weapons to appear as though they lacked the required characteristics of an assault weapon. However, the temporary modification was easily reversible, thereby making them full-fledged assault weapons. For example, a pin was placed in the stock of a weapon in an attempt to prevent its collapse. However, the pins were designed to be easily removable making the stock collapsible.

Rice said that one defendant, Martin Tretola, 55, of Bellmore, and the owner of T&T Tactical in New Hyde Park and T&T Gunnery in Seaford, went so far as to demonstrate to undercover officers how to remove the temporary pin from the fixed stock making it collapsible. Both T&T Gunnery and Hunter Sports were on notice that civilians who purchased these weapons from their stores had been arrested and charged with illegal possession of an assault weapon in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, but they continued to sell these weapons.

"The nine men arrested today were openly breaking the law, making a practice of putting profits before the safety of our citizens, and flooding our streets with dangerous assault weapons," Rice said. "Make no mistake, these are combat-specific weapons and not intended for hunting. They have no place on our streets or in the hands of civilians."

Tretola, the owner of two gun shops in Nassau County, is charged with Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Second Degree, Unlawfully Disposing of an Assault Weapon, and a misdemeanor violation of the Firearms Licensing Provisions. T&T Tactical was charged with Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the First and Second Degrees. Tretola faces up to15 years in prison. His Seaford business, T&T Gunnery, has been charged with Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the First and Second Degrees. His New Hyde Park business, T&T Tactical, along with the following defendants and businesses are charged with Unlawfully Disposing of an Assault Weapon and a misdemeanor violation of the Firearms Licensing Provision. Each individual defendant faces up to seven years in prison and each business faces up to a $10,000 fine per felony or double the company's gain from the criminal conduct.

- Mark Wroobel, 40, of Smithtown. Wroobel and his business, Hunter Sports in Massapequa, are both charged with two counts of Manufacture, Transport, Disposition, Defacement of Weapons and Dangerous Instruments and Appliances and two misdemeanor violations of Firearms Licensing provisions. Wroobel is due back in court February 25 and is represented by Michael Villeck, Esq.

- Andrew Chernoff, 50, of Malverne. Chernoff and his business, Coliseum Gun Traders, LTD in Uniondale, are both charged with Manufacture, Transport, Disposition, Defacement of Weapons and Dangerous Instruments and Appliances and a misdemeanor violation of Firearms Licensing provisions. Chernoff is due back in court March 2 and is represented by Stephen Wade LaMagna, Esq.

- Carmine Rotondo, 68, of Garden City. Rotondo, an employee of Coliseum Gun Traders, LTD, is charged with Manufacture, Transport, Disposition, Defacement of Weapons and Dangerous Instruments and Appliances and a misdemeanor violation of Firearms Licensing provisions.

- Michael Marinello, 41, of East Meadow. Marinello and his business, South Shore Sportsman in Merrick, are both charged with two counts of Manufacture, Transport, Disposition, Defacement of Weapons and Dangerous Instruments and Appliances and two misdemeanor violations of Firearms Licensing provisions. Marinello is due back in court February 22 and is represented by the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County.

Four of Martin Tretola's employees were also charged as follows:

- Thomas Tretola, 24, of Bellmore. Thomas Tretola, an employee of T&T Gunnery in Seaford and Martin Tretola's son, is charged with two counts of Manufacture, Transport, Disposition, Defacement of Weapons and Dangerous Instruments and Appliances and a misdemeanor violation of Firearms Licensing provisions. T&T Gunnery is also charged and is owned by Martin Tretola. Tretola is due back in court February 22 and is represented by Charles Horn, Esq.

- Stuart Sansevino, 59, of North Babylon. Sansevino, an employee of T&T Gunnery, is charged with three counts of Manufacture, Transport, Disposition, Defacement of Weapons and Dangerous Instruments and Appliances and 12 misdemeanor violations of Firearms Licensing provisions. Sansevino is due back in court February 22 and is represented by Dave Gallison, Esq.

- Hank Greenberg, 32, of Oceanside. Greenberg, an employee of T&T Gunnery, is charged with three counts of Manufacture, Transport, Disposition, Defacement of Weapons and Dangerous Instruments and Appliances and three misdemeanor violations of Firearms Licensing provisions.

- Morgan Owens, 22, of West Islip. Owens, an employee of T&T Tactical, is charged with one count of Manufacture, Transport, Disposition, Defacement of Weapons and Dangerous Instruments and Appliances and a misdemeanor violation of Firearms Licensing provisions. Owens is due back in court February 22 and is represented by Dave Gallison, Esq.