A Colorado police officer was convicted Thursday for stealing and selling guns from his departments evidence room.
Lake County Deputy William Berry was found guilty of embezzlement and official misconduct, after prosecutors determined he swiped three rifles – two Norinco SKS semi-automatic rifles and a Marlin .22 rifle – and one handgun last year.
Of the three rifles, prosecutors say Berry kept two for himself and made a gift of the other to a fellow officer.
In April 2014, Berry was found to have sold the handgun, .38 Colt semi-automatic, when a citizen complained that he had paid for, but not received, the weapon.
The report triggered an investigation and Berry’s ultimate arrest.
The handgun had been seized as evidence during a domestic violence investigation Berry initiated as the responding officer, prosecutors say.
In a release, prosecutors said:
“Berry later removed the seized firearms from the evidence room and duped the wife of the accused in the domestic violence incident into transferring ownership to him for $500 cash. Testimony by the domestic violence victim during the trial established that Berry, when asked whether the transfer ‘was legal,’ said ‘of course, I’m a representative of the law, if I come to you with this offer it is legal.’ “
Officer Jeffrey Hartman also face charges of “complicity with embezzlement of public property” and misconduct, prosecutors say. He has pleaded not guilty and is next due in court on June 12.
Hartman worked in the evidence room and allegedly helped Berry acquire the guns, even getting one as a “thank you” gift for his assistance.
All four weapons have been recovered and returned to authorities.
Berry faces up to three years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 10.