A former Pasadena police lieutenant could face 30 months or six times that amount in federal prison for illegally selling weapons over an internet website.
It all depends on whether US District Judge Stephen V. Wilson accepts a deal struck between federal prosecutors and Vasken Gourdikian, who admits to illegally selling more than 100 weapons over the Calguns.net website.
Gourdikian has agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of illegally selling weapons and one count of lying to federal agents in exchange for 30 months in prison, according to court documents released Friday. He is scheduled to appear before Wilson on Thursday, Sept. 20.
If Wilson rejects the deal, Gourdikian could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
“Mr. Gourdikian used his positon 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 US Attorney Nick Hanna. “His actions clearly violated federal law and introduced unauthorized firearms into the community. By his participating in these illegal acts, Gourdikian compromised public safety and violated the public’s trust.”
In June 2017, the Pasadena Weekly broke the story that the 48-year-old Gourdikian used the website to sell dozens of off-roster weapons — guns which only police officers can purchase — without a federal firearms license.
According to state law, private transactions of weapons are allowed, but if the seller is operating as a dealer, or regularly selling weapons to make a profit, then the seller must have a federal license, which federal prosecutors claim Gourdikian, a 24-year veteran of the department, did not have.
In February 2017, agents with the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives obtained a warrant to search Gourdikian’s Sierra Madre home, seizing 57 weapons.
Gourdikian was placed on paid administrative leave, collecting more than $191,000 until he resigned following his indictment in March. One week later, Police Chief Phillip Sanchez left the department. In several instances, Sanchez signed waivers that allowed Gourdikian to purchase weapons without waiting 10 days for gun stores to complete a background check.
More than a year after Gourdikian was suspended city officials acknowledged that a second officer had been placed on administrative leave as part of the city’s own investigation. City officials have not identified that officer.