PASADENA, Calif. – A California police lieutenant and spokesman used his job to bypass the state’s strict gun laws in order to resell dozens of weapons without a license, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Pasadena police Lt. Vasken Gourdikian was arrested Friday morning. He has been charged with illegally selling more than 100 firearms between 2014 and 2017.
The weapons included some that are outlawed in California, the Pasadena Star-News reported.
Gourdikian, 48, was released on a $100,000 bond after pleading not guilty Friday in federal court in Los Angeles.
“He’s committed to fighting the charges against him,” attorney Robert Kalunian said during the hearing. He later declined to answer reporters’ questions about the indictment unsealed this week.
Due to his status as a police officer, Gourdikian was able to purchase so-called “off-roster” handguns, which aren’t available to the public and aren’t listed in a catalog of certified handguns maintained by the state, authorities said.
Over a year ago, the ATF raided the Sierra Madre home of Pasadena police Lt. Vasken Gourdikian and found 32 pistols, 19 rifles, 5 rifle parts, 3 shotguns and 2 revolvers.
Today, he was arrested. https://t.co/MWBmYZy7bb
— Pasadena Star News (@PasStarNews) March 2, 2018
Pasadena Police Department issued seven waivers to the lieutenant, allowing him to bypass 10-day waiting periods on purchases of six handguns and an assault rifle at gun shops in Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to the Star-News.
Court document indicate Gourdikian posted to online gun message boards that he had weapons that were brand new and still in the box. The indictment alleges Gourdikian sometimes sold weapons in bulk across Southern California and advertised on the website Calguns.net, the Star-News reported.
“This investigation started through routine analysis of multiple sales and trace reports by ATF’s L.A. Crime Gun Intelligence Center,” Bill McMullan, special agent in charge of the ATF Los Angeles Field Division, said in a statement. “As alleged in the indictment, Mr. Gourdikian used his position as a law enforcement officer to buy firearms from gun dealers that the general public could not. He then repeatedly sold those firearms at a profit.
“Bringing a case against a law enforcement officer is never pleasant, but we hold public safety and a commitment to justice above everything. We are grateful for the Pasadena Police Department’s cooperation in this case.”
ATF agents searched Gourdikian’s home last year and seized 62 firearms, including an unregistered short-barreled rifle, officials said.
He was also charged with possessing an unregistered gun and falsely claiming on federal firearms forms that he was buying a gun for himself, even though he had already agreed to sell the weapon to someone else, prosecutors said.
Gourdikian has been on paid leave for about a year. However, Pasadena police Chief Phillip Sanchez placed Gourdikian on unpaid leave in response to Friday’s indictment.
“The allegations, if true, are concerning,” Sanchez said in a statement. “We continue to cooperate with federal authorities and are continuing our Internal Affairs investigation into this matter.”
An internal review is now “on hold pending the outcome of the criminal investigation,” police said in a statement.
If convicted on all counts, Gourdikian would face a maximum sentence of 35 years in federal prison.
Gourdikian is scheduled to appear in court again April 24.