Former Pasadena Police Lieutenant Sentenced to 1 Year for Federal Gun Trafficking Scheme
A 50-year-old man was sentenced on Monday to one year in federal prison for abusing his position as a Pasadena police lieutenant to illegally sell more than 100 firearms and lying on his own gun registration forms, prosecutors said.
Vasken Kenneth Gourdikian, who was a 22-year veteran of the Police Department, pleaded guilty last September to dealing firearms without a license and making a false statement while buying a gun.
Gourdikian had originally been charged with another count, possession of an unregistered short-barreled rifle, but did not agree to plea guilty to that crime.
In addition to serving his federal prison term, Gourdikian was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Federal officials reported seizing nearly 60 guns from his Sierra Madre home in February 2017. Prosecutors say Gourdikian ultimately sold 108 firearms without a license, including “off-roster” guns he acquired by exploiting his law enforcement status, since March 2014.
In handing down his sentence, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson said he didn’t think Gourdikian’s claim he was “a hobbyist who got out of control” were credible.
“This was a way for him to make money,” Wilson said.
Federal prosecutors said Gourdikian advertised guns he was selling online and described them as “off roster,” “never fired” and “BNIB” or brand new in box to increase their value and desirability.
The former lieutenant admitted that roughly 75 percent of the “off roster” firearms he dealt went to individuals not in law enforcement, officials said. In California, guns that are “off roster” are not available to the general public — so those sales would have been illegal even if Gourdikian did have a federal firearms license.
In 2016, a gun Gourdikian had purchased was even recovered by local police at the scene of a narcotics investigation, according to court filings.
Gourdikian also admitted to abusing his law enforcement status to circumvent state laws including the 10-day waiting period for firearms purchases and a rule prohibiting the purchase of multiple guns within 30 days. Eighty of his guns were resold within six days from when he acquired them, prosecutors said.
Finally, Gourdikian admitted to lying when he said he was buying a gun for himself on a 2014 re-certification form for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He actually sold the gun to someone else that same day he bought it from a dealer, court documents state.
Gourdikian had remained in his position as a police lieutenant for more than a year after his home was raided by federal agents and collected nearly $200,000 in pay while on paid leave, the Pasadena Star-News reported.