Sheriff Arrests Jonathan Arthur Ciener On Fraud Charges

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Last week the Brevard County, FL Sheriff’s Office raided Jonathan Arthur Ciener, Inc and arrested the owner Jonathan Arthur Ciener on charges of schemes to defraud less than $20,000 (third degree felony). JAC is best known for his .22 LR AR-15 conversion kits.

Ciener has an awful reputation. He has had almost 70 complaints filed against his company with the BBB. A disgruntled customer even developed a website dedicated to warning people not to do business with him.

Ciener’s early M16 belt fed conversion kit.

[ Many thanks to Claes for the tip. ]

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Bob Barker

    Hopefully the people who got ripped off actually get their money and parts back.

    • Randy

      “Hopefully the people who got ripped off actually get their money and parts back.”

      I hope so too, but doubt it. Either he will go out of business and everyone who owed him money will lose it, or he will get a free pass and will continue ripping people off.

      This is where i must respectfully disagree with my fellow gun owners who are
      conservatives – most of you are….

      This kind of ripoff is what happens when we follow the “hands off business” and “no regulation” ideology. Businesses rip people off because they know they can, and the little guy (you and I) can do nothing. What are you going to do, pay $5000 to an attorney to sue Ceiner to get your $100 refund? No, you just suffer in silence, being ripped off and these jerks win.

      • BeeKaaay

        Nobody is for “no regulation” – reasonable regulations like anti-fraud are not the problem. The problem comes when people call for excessive regulation. Ever deal with building and zoning code inspectors? They have so many ways of screwing you over that many just bribe them to get around the tons of regulations (and they’re willing to take the money, they’re corrupt) Other inspectors are pretty much corrupt too.

        Over regulation = inspectors and bureaucrats who use their power to hurt people who refuse to bribe them. But hey, when I object to over regulation, I must be one of those “no regulation” type people, right? Typical of the leftwingwacko mentality. The only choice is either one extreme or the other, nothing in the middle. Reason not included. Rationality not included. Just extremes.

        And who hires a lawyer for a $100 case? Hello? This is a small claims case. Pay a small sum for filing and service, sue for damages plus court costs and you can get your fees back. You can represent yourself and the rules are relaxed. But since we’re dealing with leftwingwackos, again, can’t deal with reality, just have to go to the extreme arguments again, and we must have tons of corrupt bureaucrats who punish people who don’t bribe them or we have anarchy. Again, nothing in the middle. Reason not included. Rationality not included. Just extremes.

  • Komrad

    About time. They should get him on some weapons charges too. Apparently, he tried to get customers to mail him broken kits for pistols (which had serial numbers and were legally firearms) through the USPS without declaring them as firearms in order to get out of paying for quite so much shipping.

    People like this jerk need to be brought up on fraud charges more often.
    Now we just need to take down a few other choice fraudsters. People like Ceiner are a shame to gun owners and businessmen everywhere.

    • Burst

      you mean he was breaking the law to save people money?

      Why, that FIEND!

    • Komrad

      No. He was trying to save money for himself at the expense of his customers. And he wasn’t just breaking the law, he was trying to get others to do so. What he was doing was not some harmless misdemeanor, it was a dangerous felony that could have landed other people in jail.

  • muaddib

    jon ceiner was screwed by midway.

    lower per unit profit but expected higher unit sales that didn’t pan out.

    still contractually obligated to provide the units to midway and his company went into a death spiral using money paid NOW to pay for past orders expecting future orders to pay for current ones.

    • Tmag

      It’s not Midway’s fault. That was just poor negotiating on Ciener’s part. He should have gone into such a business relationship knowing what his manufacturing capacity and costs were. He was obviously a very poor business person, even if he was an ingenious engineer.

      You’re right about how he operated, though. Most of the people that were defrauded were from people that ordered products other than what he was supplying to Midway. He used that money to keep his company afloat, I guess. That, or he was just completely inept at keeping his customer orders straight and planning production. (probably both)

  • Burt Gummer

    Karma

  • http://mcthag.blogspot.com/ McThag

    One cannot become screwed by a contract unless one signs it.

    • Tmag

      That was Ciener’s problem. He had a promised delivery date in his order form. He received funds from people and and was up to a year late (or just never delivered).

  • RobPatton

    He does have the worst customer support, and thats what kept me from buying anything else from him. I went in person since I live “close” to his office, and purchased a platinum cup conversion for my p14-45, they fit it, and test fired, and I’ve had ZERO problems with it in the past 12 or 13 years.
    Its a shame it worked out this way, but even their phone msg was insulting to callers.

    • Domestic Squirrel

      How was their phone message insulting to callers?

      • http://none bill wildberger

        about 15 years ago I bought a 22 conversion for a beretta 92 pistol. It is the best 22 pistol I have ever owned. I guess Jonathan has gotten a little sour over the years. BIILL

  • Flounder

    Okay i’m kinda new to the great world of firearms. Who is this guy? A lil bit of background would be really nice here.

    • Komrad

      Ceiner made mostly .22 LR conversion kits for popular rifles and handguns such as Berettas, Hi-Powers, AK-47s, AR-15s and Mini-14s. The kits were not the greatest quality but they were fairly inexpensive. The problem was that Ceiner could not consistently put out a functioning kit and took a very long time on deliveries.

      He did not hand out refunds no matter what and often kept customers waiting for weeks or months for their kits or for repairs. He dodged phone calls and was confrontational when you could reach him. He also engaged in some actions of dubious legality (besides the fraud mentioned) such as compelling others to illegally ship firearms through the postal service. All in all, he was a sub-par craftsman, a terrible businessman, and an all around jerk to his customers.

      It sounds like he got his just desserts.

  • Cymond

    Yeah, I’ve always heard he was bad, so I’ve never bought anything from him. He was one of the first to offer these conversions on a broad basis, but there are so many others now. Still, I was always a little tempted by his 22 kit for standard AKs.

    Does anyone else still make a 22 kit for the 92FS? Beretta discontinued theirs a while back.

    • LAH

      I have bought from him several times and had nothing but praise for his quick shipping and great conversions.

  • matt

    The boycott site some have some unusual logic. He says that Ciener only takes checks/money orders to prevent charge backs on credit card transactions. And later on says that you should complain to his retails such as MidwayUSA or Brownells. He chooses to ignore the fact that you could always order it from the retailers who have their own satisfaction guarantees, and do take credit cards which you could perform a charge back on.

    • Tmag

      The problem is that not all of his product can be purchased through retailers. That’s how I bought one. His business practices are awful. He’ll only work with checks by mail (which opened him to mail fraud) and we wouldn’t give a refund unless you paid him with another check. If you even asked for status you had to pay him with a check–and he provided a threatening statement to anyone doings that if they rocked the boat that they could be put to the end of the line. In the end, he said he had a long lead time of 4-8 weeks and in reality it would stretch to up to a year. On top of this there were people that never even received their order. That’s mail fraud for you.

      • Randall

        And I would add that Ceiner is an outright liar. He writes on his website that he does not accept credit cards because he would have to increase prices to cover fraud. Pure bunk. My wife runs a business and the credit card companies will not hold a business responsible if fraud took place. They take care of it. He invented that lie. Ceiner has everything set up so he can get your money upfront and deliver if and when he feels like. His rude attitude on the “Order Status” page says it all I think. If he’s so swamped with orders then he should increase prices a bit to cover the cost of hiring some more employees – at least one person to handle order entry.

        Its too bad because the idea behind his products are fantastic, he has no competition and he could literally make millions building a great reputation and turning out high quality products. Ceiner is the worst kind of bonehead because he has a golden opportunity which is is not taking advantage of. If any of you have some investment money and have machinist friends, consider starting a competing business doing what Ceiner does – but do it right.

        • BeeKaaay

          Actually the payment processors charge back first and ask questions later. It is not the credit card companies (like Visa, MasterCard, etc.) that are the problem it is the processors.

    • Ray M.

      MidwayUSA has removed all of JAC’s items….. they no longer reference his company. I don’t know about Brownells though….

      • Disgusted Vet

        Brownells has dropped all business with Ceiner as well.

  • Lance

    Well play with fire and the government will sting you and burn you. Like the GPMG M-16 version but prefer a heavier barrel for it.

  • Scott

    I’ve had several dealings with Ceiner and have never had a problem. He is a nice guy to talk to in person also. The only problems I’ve heard of were unhappy customers that bought parts that wouldn’t fit their guns because they were the wrong model and it was their mistake not his.

    • Randy

      Thank you Mr. Ceiner…ummm…I mean “Scott”. :)

      nobody is fooled.

  • Samopal

    It sure took long enough. The man is a scumbag of the highest degree.

    • Randy

      This goes to show that we all should be careful and read all stated policies on websites before ordering things. If one read’s Ceiner’s “check on an order” link, you can see what kind of a person he is. If it feels wrong, don’t order anything.

      I never order from sites that don’t provide a customer service email and phone number. If they are so small that they have nobody to provide customer service then their business is probably a mess and you’re taking a chance.

  • Dennis Crabtrey

    He only takes in money, NEVER RETURNS MONEY. Even if there is a long waiting period YOU COULD NOT CANCEL AND GET A REFUND ON A KIT NOT EVEN MADE YET! Happend to my son. They didn’t send the kit after 4 weeks. I called and no refund. My son deployed..Yes I did inform JAC during phone call…kit arrived MONTHS LATER.
    The kit did work when received, but JAC deserves the boning! Good riddance.

  • counsel

    This is why Chinese goods are everywhete-everyone wants to pay less for more and then complain when it isn’t as good as more expensive items ;) Buy quality and service rather than the lowest price…

    • Bob Barker

      @counsel: Your statement doesn’t make a whole lot of sense considering the context of the story. This is a situation where you have an American making low quality products and selling them cheaply, precisely your accusation against the Chinese.

      I have no issue with you wanting to buy domestic but American products are not inherently of high quality and Chinese is not inherently low quality.

      • Randy

        I agree that the comment about chinese goods is not at all related to this.
        For my browning hi power, i was only able to find two sources of 22lr conversions, an Argentinian conversion kit which may not be sold anymore, and the Ceiner kit. So Ceiner was the only one available. So the “buy quality” comment makes no sense. There was only one supplier.

    • Komrad

      I’m going to have to agree with Bob. Perhaps it doesn’t apply so much with Chinese, but many amazing products come from Europe, Asia, and even the Middle East and Africa. Denel in South Africa produces some very high-quality weapons (unfortunately, not for import to us), Caracal in the UAE make fine striker fired pistols that have been met with rave reviews by those who have shot them, SIG and Sphinx in Switzerland both make handguns of legendary quality, Rock Island Armory in the Philippines is famous for putting together extremely reliable GI style 1911s, Imbel FALs from Brazil are considered to be some of the better FALs that were produced, the list goes on.
      I personally think that buying exclusively American is both nationalistic and harmful to our economic system. Capitalism is supposed to work because consumers only purchase the best products for the price. By buying subpar American goods (like the ones put out by Ceiner), you support inferior businesses.

      • Randy

        Komrad,

        Interesting handle….I won’t comment on it.

        I will comment on a couple of things you wrote.

        First, I don’t think its nationalistic or bad to want to buy American. I think its patriotic. Second, as far as adhering to the free market/capitalistic system is concerned, I don’t think we have a true system of that type anymore. It is supposed to be based on free and open competition but in American style capitalism, we see many markets dominated by a handful of companies who really don’t compete in what they offer but rather try to use slick marketing to get you (case in point, the satellite and cable companies).
        Finally you criticize people who purchased “subpar” product from Ceiner as if to say they did it deliberately to buy American. The fact is, Ceiner is the only one who produces these conversions, at least when I researched them for my browning hi power. I don’t think people will buy junk that is American if there is an overseas seller of better quality.

        Regards

      • Phil White

        I don’t think it’s a question of quality as far as Ciener is concerned.I must say that I’ve never used his products though. His problem is plain old theft.

    • John Williamson

      But Ceiner’s service and QC SUCK !!!
      So whats next?

  • Slim

    That is intense about the amount of complaints this company had with the BBB. For fun I typed in Taurus, (I had a bad experience and filed a complaint with BBB), just to see how many they may have…. Drumroll please 89 complaints! I just wish there were more sites such as the one created against Ciener, that would warn us of these types of problems. Glad they busted him!

    • Raoul O’Shaughnessy

      Apples to oranges, man. Taurus probably has more customers than Ciener ever did, so for them 89 complaints arent as telling.

      • Slim

        Fair point. After I posted on here, I realized my mistake, and did a couple of quick searches with some companies that came to mind. So let us then compare apples to apples.

        BBB Grade # of Complaints
        Taurus= F 89
        Kahr = B 5
        Century Arms= B 2
        Browning= A+ 3
        Smith and Wesson= A+ 24

        My point is, I just wish facts like these were easier to find through quick search options, this would help all of us make better purchasing decisions in regards to firearms or firearm accessories.

  • http://www.economicrant.com roger mason

    after two years of complaining to everyone possible including
    every postmaster, florida law enforecement, and shitty rag
    Shotgun News i finally got my refund check from ceiner. he is
    charged with “under $20,000″ when he didn’t deliver hundreds of thousands
    of dollars of .22 conversions.
    he won’t do a day in jail. they would rather lock people up for
    recreational drugs to “make us all safe”.
    roger in wilmington, nc

  • David169

    I understand there are a lot of people who never got what they paid for from Ciener. My first contact with Ciener was in 1977. I bought a Ciener converted Ruger Mark 1 from him. I never had any problems with the gun or the silencer. A few years later I bought a conversion unit for my 1928 Thompson that has never failed to work. About 5 years ago I was in Florida and I stopped by his shop to ask about the 22 lr. conversions. Upon returning home I ordered one for a P14-45. It has worked perfectly. An attorney friend bought one for his Taurus 9mm. It works perfectly. My brother bought one for his Browning HP and it works perfectly but he has one tight magazine. We all got our conversions within 4 weeks after sending him the money. I don’t know if we were just lucky or caught him at a time when he was caught up with orders.

  • http://TheFirearmBlog CRW

    Bought a 22cal conversion for my Berettar 9mm, 92FS, of course it does not work. Machined slide wrong… Left a call along time ago with Ciener and no responce, just shelved it and took it as a loss. Recently found the product and was surprised to look online and found fraud case. Maybe a gunsmith might be able to help me, Mr Ciener didn’t.

  • John Schaefer

    Has there been any update on the Ciener case? Has anything happened to him? Their website is still up as if nothing happened.

    Besides his “screw the customer” attitude their QC fell off dramatically. Was given a 1911 conversion and it was full of burrs and rough spots. After some judicious polishing it runs fine now. Same with a friend who inherited an unfired one.

  • steve switkin

    Gee, one would think that since the charges got dropped in Feb, 012. someone would at least have the sense of decency and honor to post that as well as all the torch and pitchfork.

  • John Schaefer

    Re: Steve S’s post.

    The info would have been appreciated but doesn’t/wouldn’t change the fact that he is not an honorable person, and cares about nothing once he has the customer’s money.

    • steve switkin

      I don’t know nuthin’ about the guy. I know I was looking around at .45 conversions and I stumble onto this.

      THE CASE WAS DROPPED. The books got opened and the boohoo’s represent what is aparently LESS THAN 1% of customers.

      Some axe grinder goes on internet jihad and totally ignores the fact that THE CASE WAS FOUND TO BE WITHOUT MERIT.

      What is not without merit and what IS in fact dishonorable behavior is to leave this axe grinding BS posted. That is made even moreso by the lack of any attempt what-so-ever to do the right thing and update all this poison pen pathos.

      It ain’t just here. You can’t even do a simple google search without all this crushing the guy. Which, I would be totally fine with IF HE HAD BEEN FOUND GUILTY.

      But he wasn’t. This is wrong. Somebody needs to man up and own that.

      • Phil White

        If you don’t know anything about him then why defend him so stridently? I’m not sure— why the anger? He’s a dishonest business person who has taken customers money without shipping their order. Theft pure and simple.
        Read the comments and you’ll find those who have dealt with him and it didn’t turn out well.
        Most everyone who is involved with the shooting community knows about his reputation in the past and currently.
        Midway USA to name one company dropped his products from the catalog because of customer complaints about QC issues.

        Whether the charges were dropped or not doesn’t negate all the people who have posted about losing their money with no effort by the company to make it right.

  • Fred Rodgers

    I have been dealing with this firm for over 20 years,multiple times, and while shipping is often slow he has always delivered.

  • Chaz Stipkovic

    I dont know anything about him or his reputation. What I can comment on is I went to his web site to look at ordering his product. From the get go, my first thought was “Is this legit?”. Cant get a phone # to call, need to mail in questions with a $10 fee to “research”, cant order with credit card. I can completely see him being a scamer based on his web page. If he is legit and has been in business since 77′, he should invest $50 a month and develope a web site that doesnt give off the impression a 3 yr old made it and scream “all i want is your money!!!”.

  • Jofe Ferrer

    I purchased the conversion kit for the PT 92/99, the earlier model with the magazine release on the at the bottom of the pistol grip. I made this known when I ordered and was assured the conversion kit would work. It did, but the magazines (I ordered an extra), lacked the catch that worked with my model. Of course there was no response to my many calls, email, or letter. A local gunsmith fixed the problem. I am writing this because I used the kit yesterday and the magazine actually fell apart. It was easily put back together but there is a hardware fault. I will send Mr. Ciener a note and let you know the outcome.

  • R.s. Moffatt

    I have dealt with Ciener’s products since 1981. Super well made, and high praises from my customers who purchased his suppressors. I have a Ciener Platinum 1911 conversion kit for my Series ’70 gold cup. Beautiful. So much of this story sounds like a set-up from vindictive business “partners”. Something is wrong here. This story should have been OFF the internet when he was found NOT GUILTY. This stinks of revenge or take over. Ciener might not have the best in customer relations, but his products are solid.

  • John Williamson

    I have a .22 conversion for my .45 Colt Officers Model. The recoil & magazine springs are weak and do not cycle the slide or feed ammo properly. I have thoroughly cleaned and oiled both slide and mags inside and out without improvement. Ciener doesn’t even have an answering machine where I can order new ones. Who in business in the 21st century doesn’t have an answering machine or “FAQ/ contact us” page on their website ???
    He just wants your money.

  • John Williamson

    I have a .22 conversion for my .45 Colt Officers Model. The recoil & magazine springs are weak and do not cycle the slide or feed ammo properly. I have thoroughly cleaned and oiled both slide and mags inside and out without improvement. Ciener doesn’t even have an answering machine where I can order new ones. Who in business in the 21st century doesn’t have an answering machine or “FAQ/ contact us” page on their website ???
    He doesn’t care about customer service, He just wants your money.