Vasken Gourdikian’s fate is now in the hands of a federal judge.
The former Pasadena police lieutenant pleaded guilty to illegally dealing more than 100 guns across California and making a false statement on government paperwork during a gun sale.
He returns to court on Feb. 4 for sentencing and at that time US District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson can either agree to sentence him to 30 months under a plea deal or ignore that deal and send him to jail for up to 15 years.
On Sept. 20, Wilson informed Gourdikian that he was “not obliged” to follow the plea deal, but said he will consider it as he deliberates.
As part of the deal, Gourdikian cannot appeal Wilson’s sentence.
The false statement offense relates to an ATF “re-certification” form Gourdikian signed in 2014. Gourdikian admitted in the plea agreement that he “misrepresented that he was the actual buyer of a firearm when, in fact, and as 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.
“His actions clearly violated federal law and introduced unauthorized firearms into the community,” said US Attorney Nick Hanna. “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 veteran police officer used the website Calguns.net to sell dozens of off-roster weapons — guns which only police officers can purchase — without a federal firearms license.
Federal prosecutors claim Gourdikian did not have the necessary license to operate as a dealer.
In February 2017, agents with the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) 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.
— André Coleman