Police chief pleads guilty in machine gun scheme

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The former police chief in the tiny town of Addyson, Ohio has pleaded guilty to some pretty big federal charges; namely, that he lied to federal authorities about the Addyson Police Department’s desire to obtain firearms that are off-limits to the general public.

In reality, say prosecutors, Dorian LaCourse was helping two Indiana firearm retailers purchase several hundred Class III items, mostly machine guns, that they were able to resell at a significant profit, with the chief getting a cut of the proceeds. Those gun sellers entered their own guilty pleas last year, and this week LaCourse, who resigned from his position as Addyson’s chief after being suspended while an internal investigation into the crimes was conducted, followed suit.

According to the indictment, LaCourse and the two Indiana firearms dealers exploited a law enforcement exception to the general federal ban on fully automatic machine guns.

The Village of Addyston has approximately 1,000 residents, and the Addyston Police Department has up to 10 officers, most of whom were part-time.

However, according to the indictment, between 2015 and 2019, LaCourse signed multiple letters and other official documents as police chief falsely claiming to the ATF and others that the Addyston Police Department was interested in purchasing or receiving demonstrations of machine guns.

The Addyston Police Department and Village of Addyston had no intention of purchasing machine guns or receiving demonstrations of machine guns. Instead, these allegedly false statements were a pretense to gain ATF approval for Marcum and Petty to acquire machine guns, which they re-sold to other federally licensed firearms dealers at a profit—of which LaCourse got a portion.

According to the indictment, LaCourse received 11 checks payable to him totaling over $11,500.

In all, the indictment alleges that through their scheme, LaCourse’s false statements and representations induced the ATF to approve the purchase or importation of approximately 200 fully automatic machine guns. The types of guns acquired ranged from smaller submachine guns to automatic assault rifles, to belt-fed machine guns for military use.

One of those guns was an M2 .50 caliber belt-fed heavy machine gun, which according to the indictment, is a vehicle- or ship-mounted weapon that is effective against lightly armored vehicles and low-flying aircraft.

According to details of the plea agreement, LaCourse isn’t in line to get a slap on the wrist. Prosecutors are recommending a 70-month sentence, which is slightly longer than what he would have been required to serve if he’d been convicted and had his sentences on the separate charges run concurrently. He’ll also be giving up his right to keep and bear arms, as well as what sounds like a pretty extensive collection.

Under the plea agreement, LaCourse is giving up claims to more than 100 guns; accessories and $6,094 in cash and coins seized from him as part of the case, according to his plea agreement.

He also acknowledges the evidence to prove his guilt would include, among other things, records and information from him and “his co-conspirators” and records from the following:

  • The ATF
  • Heckler & Koch and other manufacturers and dealers of machine guns
  • An online marketplace for firearms
  • Email and text messages involving LaCourse “and/or his coconspirators”
  • All of their financial records
  • The Village of Addyston and its employees
  • Firearms and ammunition that was seized from LaCourse “and his co-conspirators”
  • In exchange, federal authorities are asking the court to dismiss his remaining 14 criminal charges.

Marcum and Petty have yet to be sentenced for their role in the scam, which authorities say resulted in the pair selling about 100 of the 200 NFA items that came into their possession.

Now, I’m all in favor of repealing the NFA in its entirety, but as long as it’s the law shouldn’t we expect law enforcement to follow it? $15,000 over the course of almost four years doesn’t sound like nearly enough money to risk several years in a federal prison to me, but maybe LaCourse is more of a risk-taker than I am. Whatever his motivations, I can’t imagine he’s pleased with the ultimate outcome, though there’s always a chance that the judge overseeing his sentence will depart from prosecutors’ recommendations and cut the chief a sweeter deal than the nearly six-year prison term the Department of Justice is seeking. Either way, we’ll keep our eyes out for LaCourse’s actual sentencing and let you know if the longtime law enforcement officer is given another break by the judge after cutting a deal with prosecutors.