Police Lieutenant In Pasadena Raided For Selling Dozens Of Guns Online On Calguns


A Pasadena police lieutenant, whose Sierra Madre home was raided by federal authorities in February, may have sold dozens of guns online in the last four years, potentially violating state and federal laws barring officers from making a profit from certain firearm sales, according to dozens of posts on the message board Calguns.

An account profile on the Calguns website with the name “vgourdik” posted information indicating the user was a police officer in the San Gabriel Valley. The person behind that account has not logged on since the night before the Feb. 16 raid on Pasadena Police Lt. Vasken Gourdikian’s home.

In May 2015, Gourdikian received a waiver allowing him to bypass the 10-day waiting period to buy a Glock 43 pistol. The waiver, signed by Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez, states the Glock was being purchased for off-duty use, not for resale.

Seven days later, vgourdik sold a gun of the same make and model on Calguns.

Gourdikian did not have a Glock 43 in his possession when agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seized 57 guns from his home, according to an analysis of the list of guns.

On Wednesday, Pasadena officials said they were aware of a “discrepancy” between the seizure list and the routine waivers, but they would not identify what item from the list was missing.

Gourdikian joined the Pasadena Police Department in 1994 and rose to the rank of lieutenant in 2013. He became Sanchez’s assistant and the department’s press information officer last year. As a member of Sanchez’s command staff, Gourdikian made $246,610 in total pay and benefits in 2016, according to Transparent California.

He has not been charged since the raid and remains on paid leave pending an internal investigation. He has declined to speak to the press since the raid in February.

The ATF has refused to provide details about their investigation. An asset forfeiture notice stated the guns were taken for allegedly violating federal firearm laws.

William Boyer, Pasadena’s spokesman, said Thursday that the police department was not aware of any allegations against Gourdikian prior to the ATF’s raid.

“We are very limited in what we can say because of the ongoing federal and local investigations,” Boyer said.

Of the 863 posts made by vgourdik, more than 70 offered to sell firearms and gun parts, including 47 pistols, 15 rifles and three shotguns between 2013 and 2017.

At least 63 of the posts were later marked as “sold” during the four year period. Among the firearms listed as sold was an AK-47.

“I have several of these and it’s time to make some room in safe,” vgourdik wrote in the listing.

At least two of the sales were done on behalf of friends.

“I’m listing for an LEO (law enforcement officer) friend who qualified twice with it and carried it less than six months,” vgourdik wrote in a post offering to sell a Sig Sauer .45 caliber pistol.

Though the exact number of sales could not be confirmed, the user’s listings on the website increased dramatically in the first three years after joining in 2013. The account listed four firearms as sold in 2013, nine in 2014, 27 in 2015 and 22 in 2016. One final firearm was sold in 2017, eight days before the ATF raided Gourdikian’s home.

The last post listed a Mossberg 930 shotgun as for sale for $700. A Mossberg 930 was among the firearms seized from Gourdikian’s home a little more than a week later. The U.S. Department of Justice valued the shotgun at slightly more than half the price, according to an asset forfeiture notice detailing the weapons seized.

Though most of the listings were later edited to remove the price when a buyer was found, a tally of 21 posts in which the asking price remained totaled about $31,000. The most expensive firearm listed was a Colt pistol with a $4,000 price tag.

Sometimes, vgourdik offered discounts when a buyer bought multiple guns at the same time, and one post even advertised a “Palm Sunday” sale on a $2,400 pistol.

Of the 70 listings, 43 offered to sell off-roster pistols.

Off-roster refers to firearms that do not appear on California’s list of approved guns for sale to the general public. California law allows police officers to purchase these hard-to-get pistols, and then later sell them to a private party. But a police officer who sells too many, too quickly can run into trouble.

The law makes it illegal for an officer to buy and then resale an off-roster pistol solely to make a profit.

A former Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy received 18 months in prison and a $7,000 fine for dealing firearms without a license and for conspiracy to make a false statement on a firearms record after he reportedly sold 25 off-roster pistols within a year of their purchase. The gun shop owner who helped him with the transactions between 2008 and 2011 was also prosecuted.

In an interview in May, C.D. Michel, a California attorney whose clients include the National Rifle Association of America and the California Rifle and Pistol Foundation, said the shrinking roster of approved guns creates a high demand for those firearms. Most newer models are hard to come by because of the state’s strict requirements.

“The retailer can only sell an off-roster gun to a law enforcement officer, but the law enforcement officer can sell it to a private party,” Michel said. “It’s not illegal if you buy them for yourself and you go out and shoot it and decide you don’t like it, and you want to sell it. You just can’t have the intention to sell it to someone else when you buy it.”

The seller has to make the transaction through someone with a federal firearms license to avoid breaking the law, but too many sales in a short period might also trigger an investigation.

Of the firearms listed on Calguns, 52 were listed as brand new and never fired.

The head of the ATF in Los Angeles issued an advisory warning to Southland police departments after identifying an “emerging problem” of officers flipping these hard-to-get weapons, some of which later showed up at crime scenes.

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