Former Pasadena Police Lieutenant Vasken Gourdikian Now a Federal Inmate

Gourdikian surrendered to federal authorities, was taken into custody June 7

Published : Friday, June 21, 2019 | 4:44 AM

Vasken Gourdikian (left) and his attorney, Mark Werksman, in federal court during Gourdikian's sentencing hearing in February, 2019.

Firmly shutting the door on a 26-year career with the Pasadena Police Department, former Lieutenant Vasken Kenneth Gourdikian is now a federal inmate.

Gourdikian, 50, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison and fined $10,000 during a Los Angeles federal court sentencing hearing on February 25, after pleading guilty to illegal gun possession and selling firearms without a license.

Gourdikian “self surrendered” to federal authorities on June 7, Pasadena Now has learned.

He was transferred by U.S. Marshals to a federal penitentiary in the Western United States.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons website lists Gourdikian’s release date as “unknown.” His attorney, Mark Werksman, did not return a call asking for a comment.

Gourdikian’s sentence came as the final chapter of a plea agreement to two federal felony offenses related to the illegal sales of more than 100 firearms over the course of three years. As part of the plea agreement, Gourdikian waived his right to appeal the sentence.

Gourdikian resigned from the Pasadena Police Department in March 2018, after a 26-year career. He was suspended with pay for six months prior to being indicted, earning $191,000 during the suspension. He is still eligible for a Police Department pension.

According to the plea agreement, Gourdikian admitted to selling at least 108 firearms without a license from March 2014 through February 2017, while serving as a Pasadena police officer.

He also acknowledged to Judge Wilson during the 2018 plea agreement hearing that he used his official status as a police officer to purchase firearms that were not available to the general public, and then sold the restricted firearms — known as “off roster” firearms —through third-party transfers to members of the public, via an online gun market, called CalGuns.net.

Gourdikian admitted that he would often “highlight the unique status of off roster firearms in order to solicit a buyer’s interest and to generate higher sale prices,” according to a Justice Department statement.

Gourdikian used numerous waiver letters signed by former Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez, to bypass a state waiting period. Prosecutors point to one such case which occurred on May 23, 2015, when Gourdikian bought eight guns from a gun shop in Brea, and then immediately posted them online. When he picked up the guns from the shop, he signed a form saying that he was the buyer, when in fact, he had already agreed to sell the weapons to online buyers.

The practice of providing waiver letters for Pasadena police offices has since been suspended by Sanchez’s successor, Police Chief John Perez.

Specifically, Gourdikian signed an ATF “re-certification” form when he took possession of a handgun, and admitted in the plea agreement that he “misrepresented that he was the actual buyer of a firearm when, in fact, and as the defendant then well knew, he was purchasing the firearm for another individual.” Gourdikian admitted that he re-sold the gun to another person on the same day he acquired it from the gun dealer.

While police officers were not prohibited from selling “off roster” firearms to members of the general public, Gourdikian “made a business of dealing firearms without a license, in part, by abusing exemptions made available to him under California law as a sworn peace officer,” he admitted in the plea agreement.

Gourdikian further admitted to Judge Wilson that he “capitalized on his peace officer status” that allowed him to circumvent the usual 10-day waiting period and enabled him to purchase more than one handgun in a 30-day period.

“Mr. Gourdikian used his position as a law enforcement officer to purchase firearms generally not available to the public so he could turn around and illegally sell them for profit,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna.

“It is ATF’s duty and obligation to conduct criminal investigations whenever presented with credible evidence of violations of federal firearms laws,” said ATF Los Angeles Field Division (LAFD) Special Agent in Charge Bill McMullan.

“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. 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.”

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