Ex-Manager of Gun Store at L.A. Police Academy Suspected of Grand Theft

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The former manager of a gun store at the Los Angeles Police Academy in Elysian Park has been arrested for allegedly stealing firearms that he sold to law enforcement officers, authorities said today.

Archi Duenas, 33, was arrested March 19 by Los Angeles Police Department detectives and booked on suspicion of felony grand theft, according to the LAPD. He was released on $45,000 bail the following day, according to sheriff's jail records.

Police declined to release any details of the investigation, but the Los Angeles Times reported that Duenas was arrested after nearly 40 firearms disappeared from the gun store. A dozen of the weapons have not been found, while the others were relinquished to detectives by the purchasers, the newspaper reported.

The gun thefts could stretch back several years and involve more than the batch that led to Duenas' arrest, according to two sources familiar with the probe who spoke to The Times.

According to those sources, several police officers and a sheriff's deputy purchased the guns without legally required federal paperwork and probably at steep discounts, which could expose them to criminal charges.

“They knew what they were doing,” a person familiar with the investigation told The Times. “You know when you're buying illegally and well below market value.”

The gun store at the Academy is patronized mostly by law enforcement officials and is run by the nonprofit Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club, whose governing board is made up of LAPD officers, including some command staff.

Duenas, a longtime employee, is well known among officers who buy firearms and ammunition for personal use or to supplement their department- issued equipment.

As the coronavirus pandemic worsened last month, police officers lined up at the LAPRAAC store to stock up, mirroring a run on gun purchases among the public during that time.

The club derives its revenues from the gun store, a gift and uniform shop, a cafe that is open to the public and rentals of its facilities on the Academy's Elysian Park campus, as well as membership dues from active and retired LAPD officers.

The gun store has been closed since Mayor Eric Garcetti's March 23 stay-at-home order classified it as a nonessential business. The swimming pool, weight room, basketball court and other facilities used by LAPRAAC members are also closed, and the cafe is open only for takeout orders.

LAPD Officer Rick Santos, the club's president, said he could not provide details on the “theft problem” because of the ongoing investigation. He said the club had multiple layers of checks and balances in place at the gun store, including nightly inventory audits.

Duenas is no longer employed by LAPRAAC, and the board is looking for ways to improve its oversight of the store.

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