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FBI investigating alleged gun resales by L.A. SWAT, SIS officers

The LAPD is also conducting its own probe into whether members of the elite units resold custom-made pistols for profit.

May 24, 2013|By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times

Perez, the SWAT lieutenant, filed his lawsuit earlier this year, alleging that he has endured harassment and threats from other LAPD officers since drawing attention to the gun dealings. Through his attorney, Matthew McNicholas, Perez declined to be interviewed because of an order from police officials not to comment while the LAPD investigation continues.

McNicholas said that there is evidence that shows the LAPD had formal contracts with Kimber to buy a certain number of the custom SWAT and SIS guns but that the gun company sold more weapons directly to officers through informal "gentleman agreements." One or more SWAT officers collected money from others in the unit who wanted to purchase the guns and then contacted Kimber when they had gathered orders from about 20 officers, McNicholas said. In his lawsuit, Perez said an officer working in the Metropolitan Division's armory, James Quinlan, facilitated the sales between Kimber and the SWAT officers but did not provide details of Quinlan's role.

Quinlan, who is now retired, declined to comment, as did Capt. John Incontro, who commands the Metropolitan Division. A spokesperson for Kimber did not return repeated calls.

At times, a private company named Cinema Weaponry would also purchase guns, Perez said in the lawsuit. Cinema Weaponry is owned by Michael Papac, according to the state's business registry, and appears to rent weapons to film productions out of a small, run-down building in Glendale. Papac is not an LAPD officer and did not return calls seeking comment.

Perez also found that a Lucas Ranch Gun Sales, a registered gun dealer not affiliated with the LAPD, was involved in the gun transactions, according to his lawsuit and Bustamante's report. Jim Manhire, who owns Lucas Ranch, said in an interview with The Times in August that Kimber sent guns purchased by SWAT officers to him and that he completed the state and federal registration process that must be done for all weapons. After he had registered the .45-caliber weapons in the officers' names, the officers would pick them up, Manhire said.

Andrea Ordin, president of the L.A. Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD, declined to discuss the specifics of the investigation but said the decision to alert federal authorities was probably made because they would be better qualified than LAPD investigators to assess whether any of the country's often arcane, complicated gun laws had been violated.

Beck echoed Ordin, saying, "In every internal investigation we always consider reaching out to outside entities, such as the district attorney, the United States attorney or the Federal Bureau of Investigation as appropriate."

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