Documents obtained by the Pasadena Weekly indicate a Pasadena police lieutenant under federal investigation for possible illegal gun sales submitted a request for a password change on a gun website just hours after federal agents seized dozens of illegal weapons from his Sierra Madre home.
Meanwhile, the 42 pages of documents obtained by the newspaper through the state’s Public Records Act (PRA) also reveal two other police officers, Detectives Cuong Dinh Pham and Nick Cheung, are also registered to Calguns.net under their city email addresses, along with Lt. Vasken Gourdikian, the officer under investigation by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Gourdikian is currently on paid administrative leave.
According to postings on Calguns, Cheung listed at least five weapons for sale, and other emails revealed that he recommended weapons to other people.
The information came as a result of PW’s June 5 request under state law for all correspondence to and from Calguns.net from all city employee emails.
The 42 pages of emails were vetted by officials with the Pasadena Police Department, the City Attorney’s Office and the City Manager’s Office before being turned over to the Pasadena Weekly.
As reported previously by PW, the 47-year-old Gourdikian — under the username vgourdik — sold dozens of weapons on the website, many of them off-roster, before ATF agents served him with a search warrant at his Sierra Madre home on Feb. 16 and seized 57 weapons.
But at 11:43 a.m. that day, soon after federal agents left the scene, Gourdikian logged onto the Calguns website and sent a request to have his password changed on the website.
“You have requested to reset your password on Calguns.net because you have forgotten your password. If you did not request this, please ignore it. It will expire and become useless in 24-hours time,” the email states. The email also contains a link to complete the process. It is not known if Gourdikian changed his password or if any postings were deleted from the website.
Gourdikian’s actions “could be construed as consciousness of guilt,” said local attorney Pamela Dansby Darden.
Consciousness of guilt is an incriminating inference that a judge or jury could draw from statements or conduct of a defendant after a crime has occurred that suggests that the defendant knows he is guilty of a crime, Darden explained.
Other emails sent to Gourdikian from the site include birthday wishes and friend requests from other users. The documents do not contain any specific details regarding Gourdikian’s business dealings in guns for sale.
Calguns is a gun advocacy website that allows police officers and others to buy and sell weapons, including off-roster weapons that the state has not included on its list, or roster, of firearms that can be legally obtained without law enforcement credentials.
According to his profile on the site, Gourdikian made no effort to hide his work as a police officer but never spoke specifically about his department. Gourdikian, who has been with the department for 26 years, joined the site in 2013.
All told, Gourdikian listed weapons for sale on the site 19 times in 2016, sometimes just days apart. In 2015, he posted at least 25 weapons for sale.
It is against the law to act as a firearms dealer in California without a federal firearms license (FFL), and firearms cannot be purchased for resale. Many of the guns that Gourdikian sold had never been opened and were described as brand new in the box on the Calguns website.
Several listings were posted during business hours, but it was not immediately known if any of the listings were created from the Pasadena Police Department or if he was working on the days in question. In one instance, he posted a listing for a Glock 43 pistol one week after Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez signed a waiver recommending that a gun store owner waive the 10-day waiting period for the same type of weapon.
In all, Sanchez signed seven waivers for Gourdikian for different weapons. The waivers only request gun store owners waive the waiting period. An officer could still purchase guns without the letters.
According to the ATF, Gourdikian has not been charged with a crime and federal officials are still investigating the matter.
“There has been no change in the status of the investigation,” said ATF Spokesperson Ginger Colbrun when contacted by email.
Law enforcement officers can obtain those weapons, and can sell them to civilians, but they cannot obtain them to sell them, and they cannot go into the business of selling weapons as a side business without an FFL to sell.
But Gourdikian was not the only person selling guns on the site.
Under the username 1G75, Cheung posted six weapons for sale between August 2015 and December 2016. In those listings he appeared to be following the law by seeking out someone with a federal firearms license to complete the private party transfers at local dealers like Turner’s Outdoorsman and Crown City Jewelry in Pasadena.
In a posting for a Glock G21, he wrote: “Good to excellent condition Glock 21 with box/ original owner/ bought around 99 … price is firm for now/please do not post on thread/respond by PM [private message] PPT [private party transfer] in Pasadena at Turner’s or Crown City Pawn.”
An employee at Crown City Jewelry said the shop can legally complete a gun sale because they carry a valid FFL.
“We are a gun broker, we can do it here,” said an employee at the pawn shop who did not wish to be named. “We enforce the 10-day wait and a Department of Justice background check.”
Cheung was not just selling weapons, but made at least one purchase.
In that transaction, Cheung purchased a Ruger SR22 for $350 that included three ammunition magazines and a laser sight. Moments after buying it, he sent a message to Pham through the website.
“Wow. I really got a deal for [$350],” Cheung wrote.
There were no accounts of Pham selling weapons, but he attempted to buy an off roster Sig Sauer automatic SWAT weapon through the site on Sept. 3, 2013.
There is no account of that sale ever being completed and the seller continued to advertise the post three days later.
Neither Pham nor Cheung ever contacted Gourdikian through the site, according to the emails.