Los Angeles

Former Pasadena Police Officer Sentenced for Illegally Selling More Than 100 Guns

Gourdikian used his status as a police officer to buy "off-roster" weapons that were not publicly available, and then quickly sold them at a profit to members of the public through third-party transfers, court papers show.

A former Pasadena police lieutenant was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in federal prison for selling more than 100 firearms without a license and making false statements during a gun purchase.

Vasken Kenneth Gourdikian, who resigned from the Pasadena Police Department in March 2018 after a 22-year career, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson to pay a $10,000 fine and serve a year of supervised release after completing his prison term.

The judge allowed Gourdikian, 48, of Sierra Madre, until June 3 to surrender to begin serving his sentence.

Before a packed courtroom, Gourdikian apologized, telling the judge that he was a dedicated officer who loved his job and was sorry for breaking the law.

Under his plea agreement with prosecutors, Gourdikian had been expected to be sentenced to 2.5 years behind bars, but his attorney successfully argued for leniency. The "year and a day" sentence allows federal prison inmates who pose no problems to receive early release.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elisa Fernandez said outside the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles that Gourdikian acted as an unlicensed gun dealer who was "exploiting a privilege he had" as a law enforcement officer.

Gourdikian -- who previously worked as the police department's spokesman -- used his status as a police officer to buy "off-roster" weapons that were not publicly available, and then quickly sold them at a profit to members of the public through third-party transfers, court papers show.

The ex-officer "made a business of dealing firearms without a license, in part, by abusing exemptions made available to him under California law as a sworn peace officer," according to his plea agreement.

Gourdikian also admitted falsely certifying on an official form that he was the buyer of a firearm when he had already agreed to sell the weapon.

"The public was never in danger at all," Mark Werksman, Gourdikian's attorney, told reporters at a previous hearing. "If he'd paid $25 for a license, he could've sold the firearms lawfully. This was a regulatory crime."

In exchange for Gourdikian's guilty plea and agreement to forfeit 68 weapons, prosecutors had agreed to recommend a prison sentence of 30 months.

The recommendation, however, was not binding on Wilson, who could have imposed a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Werksman said his client deserved a "compassionate" sentence, based on the ex-officer's "exemplary service record."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Chou said that one of the weapons sold by Gourdikian was found at a crime scene but was not used in a crime.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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