Ex-Gardena Officer Found Guilty for Second Time of Firearms Sales

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - After an earlier conviction was overturned, a former Gardena police officer was found guilty again of scheming to purchase “off-roster'' firearms not available to the general public and then illegally reselling the weapons for profit, prosecutors announced today.

A federal jury on Thursday convicted Edward Yasushiro Arao, 51, of Eastvale, of conspiracy to engage in the business of dealing firearms without a license and engaging in an unlicensed firearms business, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors said Arao and his co-conspirator, former Gardena police Officer Carlos Fernandez, 46, of Norwalk, exploited their positions as police officers to operate an illegal gun-selling business.

As part of the scheme, Arao purchased the firearms -- all Colt .38 Super-caliber handguns that were not available to the general public, but which could be legally purchased by law enforcement officers -- through Ronin Tactical Group, a federal firearms licensee that Arao owned and operated.

Arao then transferred the guns to himself individually from the inventory of Ronin Tactical and re-sold 41 of them to non-law enforcement officers. Similarly, Fernandez obtained multiple off-roster weapons, which he re-sold to the general public through Ronin Tactical. Through messages on Instagram and via other means, Arao and Fernandez negotiated the prices and terms of firearm sales, and then delivered the guns and accepted payment, often in cash.

In a previous trial in November 2019, a federal jury found Arao guilty of the same two felony charges and found Fernandez guilty of conspiracy, selling firearms to a convicted felon, engaging in an unlicensed firearms business, and making false statements in federal firearms licensing paperwork.

In March 2020, Fernandez was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison. At the same time, a new trial was ordered for Arao after the judge determined the two defendants should not have been tried together.

At sentencing on Jan. 21 in Los Angeles federal court, Arao will face up to 10 years in federal prison.

Previously in the case, six other defendants who illegally purchased firearms from Arao and Fernandez pleaded guilty and were sentenced, with two of those defendants being ordered to serve time in federal prison.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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