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    Valrico man figures up losses from case

    Given probation for carrying a gun on a plane, he lost clients and can no longer carry a weapon.

    By RON MATUS
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published June 16, 2002


    TAMPA -- After nearly six months as a sideshow in the country's war on terrorism, Barry Brunstein's life can go back to normal.

    Almost.

    Brunstein is the Valrico man who made national headlines in December for carrying a loaded .380-caliber handgun aboard a Delta Air Lines flight.

    On Friday, a federal judge in Memphis handed him two years of probation for a crime that could have netted him 10 years in prison.

    On Saturday, he was back home, shopping for Father's Day presents and puttering around the house.

    "I wouldn't call it a sigh of relief," Brunstein said of the case. "But it's better knowing than not knowing."

    What the former Boy Scout leader now knows is that he is a felon.

    He must pay a $5,000 fine.

    He probably won't be able to vote

    "Not good," Brunstein said.

    Until Dec. 28, he had never been arrested.

    The self-employed truck crash investigator said he left the gun in his briefcase inadvertently after a business trip to Orlando two weeks before the flight. Then he forgot about it.

    His lapse just happened to come as the nation was still recoiling in horror from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    What Brunstein still doesn't know is what conditions his probation may carry. Or how much his business will suffer.

    Brunstein said he lost two clients who were concerned about his credibility as an expert witness in court trials. He said he'll never know how many potential clients didn't call.

    "It was all over the media -- CNN, everywhere," he said.

    Brunstein said he got a concealed-weapons permit and a gun because his work sometimes takes him to rough neighborhoods.

    Now he'll have to take friends with him instead.

    Has anything positive come out of his time in the spotlight?

    No, Brunstein said.

    A lesson here for the rest of us?

    Not really, he said.

    Bitter?

    No, again.

    "Bitterness doesn't do any good," he said. "It's just one of those things. Everybody was doing their jobs."

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