WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A federal judge threw out on Thursday all charges against a former Bel Aire police officer accused in a scheme to buy and sell discounted firearms by falsely claiming they would be used for law enforcement purposes.
U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren dismissed at the government’s request the mail and wire fraud charges against Nathan Mavia, just weeks before trial.
Jim Cross, the spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas, declined to comment on the prosecution’s reasons for seeking the dismissal. The initial charges against Mavia and another officer were initially filed in December 2014, and the investigation eventually ensnared the department’s police chief along with a third police officer.
Bel Aire, a small suburban community just north of Wichita, at the time had about nine full-time police officers, court documents show.
Prosecutors allege the police officers bought and sold numerous firearms by falsely certifying they were for law enforcement use and not resale - thereby avoiding the collection and payment of taxes on the purchases.
Defense attorney Mark Schoenhofer said that after extended talks with the U.S. attorney’s office, prosecutors came to the conclusion that dismissing the charges against Mavia was the appropriate. “Both sides realized this was a fair thing to do,” he said.
Former Bel Aire Police Chief John Daily and former police officers, Robert McCaslin and Ricky Swanson, face trial on Feb. 16 in U.S. District Court in Wichita. Most of the charges against them involve wire fraud and mail fraud in connection with the alleged scheme.
Schoenhofer said he does not know whether his client is going to testify against the other officers, but said the decision to dismiss the charges against him had nothing to do with an agreement to testify.
“He was a good officer. He is a good person. And it has always been our position that he did not do anything that was criminal,” Schoenhofer said.
Mavia worked in the department from February 2012 until June 2014, and his attorney said Mavia is hoping to one day return to law enforcement.
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