HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (AP) – Two men arrested this week after investigators uncovered an arsenal of weapons at their homes – ranging from handguns to a grenade launcher – are likely to face upgraded charges when a Suffolk County grand jury convenes, District Attorney Thomas Spota said Thursday.

John Acompora, 46, of West Islip, and Gregory Brozski, 57, of Queens, were initially charged with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon following searches of their homes earlier this week.

The pair, who were charged with the same crime a decade ago, were arrested after a three-month investigation, Spota said.

“Simply put, there is absolutely no legitimate purpose to possess any of these weapons, no legitimate purpose at all,” he said during a news conference announcing the arrests.

Acting on a tip from an informant, investigators searched Acompora’s home Sunday, finding weapons in his van, his basement and two unlocked sheds in his backyard, prosecutors said.

In all, authorities seized about 50 weapons, among them 16 assault rifles, including six AK-47s, and two .44 Magnum pistols with the serial numbers defaced, they said.

Spota noted that Acompora lived at the home with his wife and two teenage children.

Brozski, who lives with his mother, consented to a search of his apartment on Tuesday. There, investigators seized approximately 50 more weapons, including assault rifles, four Uzi submachine guns, a grenade launcher, shotguns, 10 handguns and a silencer, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said they were shocked by the total number of weapons, which had a street value of at least $100,000.

“We had no idea it was that much,” Assistant District Attorney Hector LaSalle said.

About one-third of the arsenal was displayed on a huge conference table in front of Spota as he spoke to reporters.

“What you see before you today is a police officer’s worst nightmare,” Spota said. “The fact that they were able to amass this arsenal of weapons and firepower … is truly disturbing to all of us.”

It was unclear how the weapons were acquired; Spota declined to comment on whether the men were suspected of being gun collectors or dealers, saying the investigation was ongoing. Many of the weapons seized had their serial numbers scratched off. Spota said both men were “accomplished machinists” capable of defacing the weapons.

Acompora pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday in First District Court in Central Islip and was released on $5,000 bail. He was due back in court on Friday. Brozski, who also pleaded not guilty, was released on his own recognizance after his arraignment Wednesday and was due back in court Aug. 9.

Acompora’s attorney, Frank Panetta, declined to comment on the charges but said his client has cooperated with investigators and did not believe he was doing anything wrong.

“He’s been a gentleman throughout,” Panetta said.

Prosecutors said Brozski did not have an attorney at his arraignment. Spota said because the weapons were seized at Brozski’s home in Bayside, the Queens district attorney’s office would prosecute him there.

However, Spota said he has evidence that Brozski committed crimes in his jurisdiction, which is why he also faces prosecution in Suffolk County. He did not elaborate.

Both men, whom Spota described as friends, were previously arrested in 1996 in Farmingdale following reports to police that they were shooting weapons near an abandoned sand pit. Acompora pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years probation; Brozski received 45 days in jail and three years probation following his guilty plea.

Spota said because of their prior convictions, neither man was permitted to own any weapon. He declined to comment on when the grand jury would convene.

In Acompora’s neighborhood, where dozens of children were playing in the street Thursday afternoon, reaction to his arrest was mixed.

“I can’t imagine him doing anything,” said Thomas Meehan, who lives next door. “He would never hurt a flea. They are great neighbors, and everybody here will tell you the same thing.”

Annmarie Kossof, however, said she was “horrified” about the arrest.

“I mean, God forbid anything happened,” she said. “It’s a horrible thing.”

AP-ES-07-27-06 1635EDT

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