Ex-Pasadena Police Lieutenant Set to Accept Plea Deal Today in Federal Gun Dealing Case; 2nd Officer Remains Under Investigation

Published : Thursday, September 20, 2018 | 4:40 AM

A longtime Pasadena police officer who rose to the rank of lieutenant during his 22-year career is scheduled to be in court Thursday to formally plead guilty to federal charges of dealing in guns without a license and lying on a federal form. Meanwhile a second, similar investigation into another officer is ongoing.

Under a plea arrangement announced earlier this month, prosecutors have recommended Vasken Gourdikian receive 30 months in prison. But the judge has the authority to sentence him to up to 15 years.

Gourdikian has agreed to plead guilty to one count of dealing firearms without a license and one count of making a false statement on a firearm purchase form, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. An additional charge of possession of an unregistered short-barreled rifle is being dropped under the plea deal.

U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Los Angeles Field Office Special Agent in Charge Bill McMullan said investigators follow the evidence wherever it leads.

“Through analysis conducted by ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence Center, it was discovered that one of the firearms sold by Gourdikian was recovered at a crime scene two months after its purchase, increasing the risk to the public and law enforcement personnel,” McMullan said. “ATF’s mission is to focus our efforts on firearms traffickers and trigger pullers and we will continue to pursue individuals engaged in this type of illegal activity.”

Authorities allege Gourdikian illegally sold more than 100 guns.

And while Gourdikian’s sentencing effectively closes one chapter of the investigation, authorities are still looking into a second Pasadena police officer in connection with similar allegations.

No charges have been filed against the officer, who has not been formally identified, and few details are available regarding that investigation.

Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson confirmed the department is conducting an internal affairs investigation involving a single officer. The officer is on paid administrative leave.

“As a department, the conduct of or allegations against any employee is concerning and must be thoroughly investigated in order to discover what truly occurred and reach a conclusion,” Clawson said.

The ATF has several ongoing investigations involving police officers, agency spokeswoman Ginger Colbrun said. But no specifics are available.

“As a matter of DOJ policy, since these are ongoing cases, I cannot provide any details nor can I confirm the agencies,” she said.

The second officer has been on leave since February, 2017, a little more than a week after federal agents raided Gourdikian’s Sierra Madre home and seized dozens of guns.

Gourdikian remained on administrative leave for more than a year. He ultimately resigned in March, the same month a grand jury returned an indictment against him. In the interim, he reportedly collected nearly $200,000 in compensation from the city.

The second officer has also been drawing a salary while the internal investigation and possible federal investigation unfold.

Between early March of 2017 to early this month, the officer has received $188,428 in compensation, Pasadena spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.

Gourdikian’s charges stem from alleged off-duty conduct. But federal prosecutors say he used his position as a police officer to get around waiting periods and purchase guns not available to the general public, in order to resell them.

Several waivers for California’s 10-day waiting period were issued by department administrators, including then-chief Phillip Sanchez. Sanchez announced his retirement in March.

Interim Police Chief John Perez “has suspended the practice of issuing gun waivers indefinitely,” Clawson said.

 

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