LOS ANGELES – A lieutenant in the Pasadena Police Department was taken into custody this morning on federal charges related to the illegal sale of approximately 100 firearms.
Vasken Kenneth Gourdikian, 48, of Sierra Madre, who is currently on administrative leave, self-surrendered this morning to federal authorities.
Gourdikian was named by a federal grand jury yesterday in a four-count indictment that accuses him of engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license, making false statements on ATF Forms, and possessing an unregistered short-barreled rifle.
The federal indictment charges that, from March 2014 through February 2017, Gourdikian sold over 100 firearms without a license. Gourdikian allegedly used his official status as a police officer to purchase firearms that were not available to the general public, and then sold the “off-roster” firearms through third-party transfers to members of the public, according to the indictment.
Gourdikian's status as a police officer also enabled him to purchase more than one handgun in a 30-day period. Moreover, upon obtaining the requisite authorizations from his employer, Gourdikian's status as a police officer allowed him to take possession of a firearm before the otherwise applicable ten-day waiting period lapsed.
“In these days of escalating gun violence, it is important to enforce our firearms laws vigorously,” said United States Attorney Nicola T. Hanna. “Those who sell guns illegally need to be held accountable, especially those who abuse a position of public trust.”
Gourdikian is also charged with twice having falsely certified on ATF forms that he was the actual buyer of a firearm, when at the time of the certification he had already agreed to sell the firearm to another person.
Special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives executed a federal search warrant at Gourdikian's residence in Sierra Madre in 2017 and seized approximately 62 firearms, including an unregistered short-barreled rifle. The indictment further charges Gourdikian with illegally possessing this unregistered weapon.
“This investigation started through routine analysis of multiple sales and trace reports by ATF's LA Crime Gun Intelligence Center,” said Bill McMullan, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Los Angeles Field Division. “As alleged in the indictment, Mr. Gourdikian used his position as a law enforcement officer to buy firearms from gun dealers that the general public could not. He then repeatedly sold those firearms at a profit. Bringing a case against a law enforcement officer is never pleasant, but we hold public safety and a commitment to justice above everything. We are grateful for the Pasadena Police Department's cooperation in this case.”
Gourdikian is expected to be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
If convicted of the charge of dealing firearms without a license, Gourdikian would face a statutory maximum sentence of five years. Convictions of making a false statement and possessing an unlicensed firearm each carry a maximum sentence of ten years. If convicted on all four counts, Gourdikian would face a statutory maximum sentence of thirty-five years in federal prison.
This matter is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer Chou of the Violent & Organized Crime Section and Elisa Fernandez of the Public Corruption & Civil Rights Section.
Component(s): USAO – California, Central
Contact: Thom Mrozek Spokesperson/Public Affairs Officer United States Attorney's Office Central District of California (Los Angeles) 213-894-6947
Press Release Number: 18-033Updated March 2, 2018
Central District of California DOJ / 18-033 / March 2, 2018