A woman’s collection of faux firearms she rents out as film props was seized by police after a tip-off. Despite the guns being fake, she was arrested on a slew of charges and faced a possible 25-year prison sentence.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) has received mixed reactions after announcing success in a major bust and seizure. However, the illegal items they confiscated have many citizens insisting that the officers have abused the law to target an innocent woman named Elizaveta Zlatkis
NYPD officers posted a photo on social media, proudly posing behind a table covered with various firearms. While the display provides a menacing visual of an illegal weapons bust, the truth is less ominous. In fact, none of the seized firearms was ever actually a threat to anyone.
According to the Queens Eagle, NYPD officers raided the Forest Hills home of 31-year-old Elizaveta Zlatkis after acting on a tip that she had a cache of illegal firearms. The police confiscated 22 various weapons and arrested Zlatkis. The only problem is that 21 of the guns are fake and 1 was rendered inoperable.
Zlatkis has made a business of renting out replica firearms for music videos and films. The “weapons cache” that police seized is actually made up of airsoft rifles, toy guns, and at least one starter pistol like those used at track meets. Not one of the guns is capable of discharging ammunition, the NYPD’s own laboratory confirmed. In fact, the one real firearm had its trigger, handgrip, and internal components removed, rending it “inoperable.” But that didn’t stop the 112th Precinct from charging the owner.
Zlatkis was charged with first-degree criminal possession of a weapon, which carries a possible 25-year prison sentence, and 8 misdemeanors for possessing ammunition and endangering a child. Despite the NYPD’s firearms analysis confirming the only prop that could even be considered a weapon is completely unusable, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz has refused to drop the charge, which Zlatkis says has ruined her life.
“I look completely crazy,” Zltakis said. “It’s humiliating.”
Zlatkis and her husband, Elvis Semini, loan the props to rappers and producers for music video shoots. Semini was also charged with several misdemeanors.
“We do videos with them as props,” said Rosedale rapper Crucial, who has become friends with Zlatkis and Selimi. “I didn’t know you could actually get in trouble with all that. That’s wild. They’re fake.”
Even the judge acknowledged that the charges against Zlatkis were absurd, according to attorney Joe Murray. Still, the case against her is being pursued by the DA and is set to go before the court.
“Not a single gun was real,” said Murray. “I want to clear her name. She’s not a gangster.”
Unfortunately, according to Bearing Arms, Zlatkis may be considered a gun owner thanks to the obscurity of the law. Since a gun is loosely defined as having a finished frame or receiver for a firearm, it makes no difference if a trigger is attached. In fact, even a starter pistol can be considered a gun since the ATF states they can be “readily converted” into a firearm.
New York has been criticized for arresting and releasing murder suspects in the quest for bail reform. However, citizens like Zlatkis and her husband face the harshest penalties for possessing toy pistols.
As New York faces a gun crime epidemic on its streets, officers are raiding homes for little more than pellet guns. Disturbingly, it would seem that illegally using a real firearm is less of a crime than lending out fake ones as movie props.