A California police officer 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 and 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. His attorney, Mark Geragos, said the charges were “misguided and truly an abuse of the supposed discretion of the government.”
He has been placed on unpaid leave, the Star-News reported.
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.
Pasadena’s Police Department issued seven waivers to the officer, allowing him to bypass 10-day waiting periods on purchases of six pistols and an assault rifle at gun shops in Los Angeles and Orange counties, the Star-News reported.
Gourdikian posted on online gun message boards that he had weapons that were brand new and still in the box, court documents said. The indictment alleges Gourdikian sometimes sold weapons in bulk across Southern California and advertised on the website Calguns.net, the Star-News reported.
The investigation against Gourdikian began during a routine analysis of sales and trace reports by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to Bill McMullan, special agent in charge of the ATF field office in Los Angeles.
ATF agents raided 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, who had been on paid leave for about a year, will no longer be paid by the police department, officials said. An internal review is now “on hold pending the outcome of the criminal investigation,” police said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.