A manager of a gun store at the Los Angeles Police Academy was caught last year stealing firearms and reselling them under the table, and the ensuing investigation has implicated other officers in the Los Angeles Police Department.
In a lengthy exposé published this week, the Los Angeles Times described a scheme perpetrated for years by Archi Duenas. Duenas managed the gun store at the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club, which sells a variety of firearms from major manufacturers to LAPD officers.
Duenas didn’t miss a day of work for years so he could always be the one to close the shop and hand-count the inventory, prosecutors claim. But once he had accrued the “maximum allowable leave hours” and was forced to take time off, another manager discovered empty boxes that should have had guns in them.
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Duenas stole a total of 44 firearms, 34 of which have been accounted for. Some of his buyers, prosecutors allege, were other members of the LAPD.
The LAPD was allegedly aware for years of “prior negligence and mismanagement issues related to the sale, tracking, and documentation of firearms and firearm transactions” by gun store personnel. The not-so-subtle implication made by the LA Times and prosecutors is that this negligence was intentional.
Five officers were found in possession of Duenas’s stolen weapons: Capt. Jonathan Tom, Capt. Steve Embrich, Sgt. Marlon Marrache, Sgt. Gus Murra, and Det. Victor Brown.
However, none have so far been prosecuted. All five strenuously deny knowing about the stolen firearms, and investigators haven’t been able to prove they knew the guns were stolen.
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“In sum, the reasonable inference to be drawn from a totality of the evidence, in this case, is that the officers thought they were purchasing legal firearms at a cash discount, and not acquiring stolen guns,” prosecutors wrote.
As of this week, Tom, Embrich, Marrache, and Murra were all active members of the LAPD. Brown retired in February.
Duenas initially faced 25 criminal counts and more than a dozen years in prison, but he ultimately received probation after pleading no contest to felony grand theft of a firearm and a single misdemeanor count of illegally transferring a firearm.
It’s unclear whether the Times’ report will result in an additional investigation. The FBI and the ATF have not said whether they have opened an investigation, and neither has the LAPD inspector general.