LOS ANGELES – Two Southern California police officers are accused of purchasing so-called off-roster firearms that are not available to the general public and illegally reselling the weapons, federal prosecutors said Monday.
A federal grand jury indictment alleges Gardena Police Department officers Carlos Miguel Fernandez, 42, and Edward Yasushiro Arao, 47, conspired with each other and engaged in dealing firearms without a license, the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's Office announced.
Collectively, the officers are accused of illegally selling approximately 100 firearms — mostly Colt .38-caliber pistols — without a license.
Off-roster' handguns are not available to the general public, but can be legally purchased by law enforcement officers.
The officers have been ordered to appear for arraignment on April 3. Information on their attorneys was not immediately available and the union that represents officers in Gardena did not immediately respond to an email message seeking comment.
Gardena police Chief Edward Medrano said the officers have been placed on administrative leave, and the department has cooperated with investigators.
"We are deeply concerned about the case," Medrano said in a statement. "This type of conduct is inconsistent with our organizational values and the ethics of our profession and will not be tolerated by the Gardena Police Department."
The indictment also names other people who allegedly were involved in "straw purchaser" transactions.
Prosecutors allege Fernandez advertised guns offered by himself, Arao and others on his Instagram account. Arao, who was the CEO of Ronin Tactical Group, a federal firearms licensee, similarly advertised guns on his company's account, according to the indictment.
Both officers also allegedly marketed firearms at gun shows without proper licenses.
If convicted of all charges, Fernandez would face up to 15 years and Arao could be sentenced to as much as 10 years behind bars, prosecutors said.
Gardena is a city of about 58,000 residents in southwestern Los Angeles County and has about 90 police officers.
Earlier this month a police lieutenant in the Los Angeles County city of Pasadena was arrested on similar charges. Lt. Vasken Gourdikian was charged with illegally selling more than 100 firearms between March 2014 and February 2017.
Gourdikian is accused of using his status as a police officer to buy guns that weren't available to the general public and then reselling the weapons. He's also accused of possessing an unregistered gun and making false statements on federal firearms forms.