A Pasadena police officer who allegedly sold more than 100 firearms without a license over a three-year period was released on bail after being arrested on federal charges Friday.
Vasken Kenneth Gourdikian, a 48-year-old lieutenant on administrative leave, turned himself in to federal authorities Friday morning, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The agency said a federal grand jury indicted Gourdikian on Thursday, accusing him of dealing in firearms without a license; making false statements on forms from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and possessing an unregistered short-barreled rifle.
After his arrest, the officer pleaded not guilty in court and was released on a $100,000 bond, the Associated Press reported.
Gourdikian allegedly used his position as a police officer to buy firearms that were not publicly available and selling them to civilians through third-party transfers.
His status as an officer let him purchase more than one handgun in a 30-day period, according to the indictment. He also allegedly obtained authorization from his employer to acquire a firearm before the 10-day waiting period was over.
The Pasadena Police Department gave Gourdikian seven waivers that let him skip the 10-day wait when he bought six pistols and an assault rifle at gun shops in L.A. and Orange counties, the Pasadena Star-News reported.
The indictment also charged Gourdikian with falsely certifying on ATF forms that he was the buyer of a firearm when he had already agreed to sell the weapon to another individual.
ATF agents in February 2017 searched Gourdikian’s home in Sierra Madre, where the U.S. Attorney’s Office said around 62 firearms were seized.
Gourdikian sold more than 100 firearms without a license from March 2014 to February 2017, according to Thursday’s indictment.
He frequently advertised “off roster” firearms on the website Calguns.net, the indictment said.
“In these days of escalating gun violence, it is important to enforce our firearms laws vigorously,” said U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna, the chief federal law enforcement officer for the Central District of California.
A routine analysis of sales and trace reports by ATF’s L.A. Crime Gun Intelligence Center prompted the investigation, said Bill McMullan, the special agent in charge of the agency’s Los Angeles field division.
Gourdikian has been an officer with Pasadena police since 1994, the Los Angeles Times reported. City officials said he would remain on leave but would no longer receive pay, according to the paper.
“Bringing a case against a law enforcement officer is never pleasant, but we hold public safety and a commitment to justice above everything,” McMullan said in a statement. “We are grateful for the Pasadena Police Department’s cooperation in this case.”
Mark Geragos, an attorney representing Gourdikian, said in a statement:
Lt. Gourdikian has had a long, unblemished and distinguished career in Law Enforcement. This Indictment is misguided and truly an abuse of the supposed discretion of the Government. The inflammatory statement today issued by the Government today was better suited for a political rally which probably explains the true motivation and timing of this flawed Indictment. This case will be vigorously contested.
If convicted on all charges, Gourdikian could face up to 35 years in federal prison.