- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 3, 2018

Vasken Gourdikian, a lieutenant in the Pasadena Police Department who formerly served as its official spokesman, risks spending decades in federal prison if convicted on federal firearms charges announced Friday.

Lt. Gourdikian, 48, allegedly acquired and illegally re-sold more than 100 guns between March 2013 and February 2017, according to a four-count indictment brought against him in Los Angeles federal court this week.

Using his status as a police officer, Lt. Gourdikian purchased dozens of “off-roster” pistols and semiautomatic rifles otherwise unavailable to the general public and subsequently listed them for sale on Calguns.net, an online forum frequented by California firearms enthusiasts, the indictment alleges.

The lieutenant allegedly used a city email address to set up an account on Calguns, “vgourdik,” and penned over 70 posts advertising firearms and gun parts for sale, including 63 later marked as sold, according to the indictment.

Additionally he twice lied on purchasing forms filed with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and a search of his residence last February recovered an unregistered short-barreled rifle, the indictment alleges.

“In these days of escalating gun violence, it is important to enforce our firearms laws vigorously,” said U.S Attorney Nicola T. Hanna. “Those who sell guns illegally need to be held accountable, especially those who abuse a position of public trust.”

Lt. Gourdikian surrendered himself to authorities Friday morning and was released on a $100,000 bond after pleading not guilty to charges including selling firearms without a license, making false statements on federal forms and possessing an unregistered short-barreled rifle. His next court date has been set for April 24.

“He’s committed to fighting the charges against him,” defense attorney Robert Kalunian said during Friday’s arraignment, Pasadena Star News reported.

Lt. Gourdikian joined the Pasadena Police Department in 1994, according to a LinkedIn profile in his name. He was acting as the department’s spokesman in February 2017 when the AFT executed a search warrant at his home in San Gabriel Valley and seized roughly 62 firearms, including the unregistered rifle.

The Pasadena Police Depart placed Lt. Gourdikian on paid leave the same day as the raid. Over a year later, Pasadena police Chief Phillip Sanchez said Friday that the city has suspended the lieutenant’s salary in response to the indictment.

“The allegations, if true, are concerning,” he said in a statement. “We continue to cooperate with federal authorities and are continuing our Internal Affairs investigation into this matter.”

“Trust in our law enforcement is critical to effective policing and our officers must be beyond reproach,” said City Manager Steve Mermell. “I support Chief Sanchez’s employment action against Lieutenant Gourdikian and the resumption of the internal investigation.”

Lt. Gourdikian received more than $191,000 during his year of paid administrative leave, the Pasadena Star News reported.

He faces a maximum of 35 years imprisonment if convicted on all counts, according to the Justice Department.

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