O.C. Lawyer Arrested, Accused of Illegally Selling Firearms to Undercover ATF Agent

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Federal officials on Monday arrested an Orange County lawyer accused of illegally selling firearms, including to an undercover agent.

Melinda Romines, a 41-year-old Anaheim resident, has been charged with conspiracy to engage in the business of dealing in firearms without a license. She was also charged with possession of an unregistered firearm, as well as two counts of distributing methamphetamine.

Romines has an active attorney’s license as of Monday, state records show. Her website says she owns a Fountain Valley-based boutique law firm that handles criminal defense, business and entertainment, and child custody cases, among others.

According to an indictment filed on Feb. 4, Romines began illegally dealing in firearms in May 2018 and continued through at least November 2018.

On or around May 17, 2018, she allegedly sold a .40-caliber pistol and an AR-type .45-caliber rifle to a source working with the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives at a parking lot in Los Angeles.

In addition to the weapons, none of which had serial numbers, Romines sold the source a silencer that she later said was homemade, according to the indictment. She also sold that person a high-capacity magazine with about 20 rounds of ammunition, officials said.

She received $2,600 in the transaction, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

In October 2018, Romines allegedly met with the same source along with an undercover ATF agent at another parking lot in L.A. She was with a 27-year-old L.A. resident named Seaira “Relli” Benson at the time, court documents said.

Romines sold the agent a .45-caliber pistol and ammunition for $900, authorities said. She later continued to communicate with the undercover official through phone calls and text messages in an effort to sell more weapons, officials alleged.

Romines “acted as a broker between the black market dealers and customers, ultimately buying the firearms from the dealers and then re-selling them to customers,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

The lawyer was also charged, along with Benson, with distributing about 111 grams of methamphetamine, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Authorities said they’re currently searching for Benson.

Romines was scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

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