Grand Haven pawn shop owner in the spotlight

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 3:02 PM

Brookman didn't strike it rich on a second-hand item and his face won't show up on “Pawn Stars.” Instead, he will be featured on tonight's edition of “The Huckabee Show,” hosted by former Republican Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (8 p.m. on Fox), to discuss the reason banks are suddenly canceling the accounts of some small businesses.

Brookman said he's not making a big deal out of it. He was simply visiting a website trying to find out more information after Chase Bank canceled his business account.

“I wanted to know why they were closing my account for no reason,” he said.

Chase, like many other banks, are refusing to do business with certain types of companies under guidelines issued by the Department of Justice under “Operation Choke Point,” Brookman said.

“This is not a case where my store was singled out,” he said. “There was no investigation, not even an accusation or suspicion of wrong-doing. Chase closed my account and the accounts of hundreds of other businesses solely because of the SIC code the business is registered under.”

The SIC, or standard industrial classification, has been around since 1937 and helps categorize businesses.

Brookman was a firearms dealer until he let his federal firearms license expire in early June because transactions required too much paperwork and were terribly time consuming, he said. He still deals in rare coins.

Firearms and coin dealers are among the types of businesses that the Department of Justice deemed “high-risk” for fraud. In the department's “Operation Choke Point,” the feds will now audit banks that deal with any of the named “high risk” businesses — such as dating services, credit repair services, lottery sales and travel clubs.

Brookman said “Operation Choke Point” hasn't caused him any hardship. He simply opened an account at a new bank. But the principle of the federal guidelines is somewhat disturbing, he said.

Read the complete story in Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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