Sheriff surprised at amount of guns
12:53 AM PDT on Wednesday, May 12, 2004
By SHARON McNARY / The Press-Enterprise
San Bernardino County Sheriff Gary Penrod said Tuesday that he believes former Sheriff Floyd Tidwell did not profit from selling any of the 523 guns he admits taking from the department's property locker.
"I know Floyd. He would never do that, Penrod said. "I believe that 100 percent."
In his first public statements since the former sheriff pleaded guilty Monday to four counts of concealing stolen property, Penrod recalled his friendship with Tidwell and said he had not known that the man was taking guns when he was the sheriff. Evidence and property are now carefully monitored, Penrod added.
Former San Bernardino County Sheriff Floyd Tidwell pleaded guilty Monday to four counts of concealing stolen property.
Tidwell received no special treatment from the sheriff's deputies or prosecutors handling the case, Penrod said. "Floyd's going to have to pay his dues and get on down the road," he added.
Tidwell must pay a $10,000 fine and help investigators find nearly 500 still-missing guns. If his cooperation is sufficient, the four felonies may be reduced to misdemeanors.
Assistant District Attorney Mike Risley said that though investigators have not yet questioned Tidwell in detail about the guns' whereabouts, they are confident that Tidwell did not sell them for profit.
Tidwell's weapons habit was known to deputies working in the property room and to higher-ranking officials, according to a district attorney's memo. However, Penrod said he was unaware of it.
"I was out of the loop in those days," said Penrod, who had been assigned to desert posts during Tidwell's years as sheriff, 1983 to 1991.
"I don't recall any rumors about that back in those days," he said.
The two men became friends after Tidwell retired.
After Tidwell left office in 1991, his successor, Dick Williams, sent letters seeking the return of Tidwell-distributed guns.
San Bernardino County Sheriff Gary Penrod doesn't believe former Sheriff Floyd Tidwell profited from the guns Tidwell admitted having. "Floyd's going to have to pay his dues and get on down the road," Penrod said.
People "who had been given guns by Floyd were sent letters requesting that they turn them in," Penrod said.
He did not know how many guns were returned.
Penrod said he had been surprised when he learned of the number of weapons that Tidwell had taken.
"I knew that he had guns that he had taken to the range," Penrod said, but he was not aware that Tidwell had a large personal gun collection.
Penrod, sheriff since 1995, said computerized and bar-coded scan tags have replaced file boxes of 3-by-5 index cards that held the sheriff's property inventory.
A court order signed by a judge is required before a weapon can be taken out. Weapons are not sold, he said.
"We don't auction off guns; we just melt them all down," so that they don't return to public circulation, Penrod said.
"I got a little heat from people" for not selling sporting rifles and other legal weapons to raise money for sheriffs' programs.
Tidwell, as part of his plea agreement, will work with the Sheriff's Department to track the weapons.
Part of Tidwell's plea agreement obligates the district attorney to refrain from prosecuting the people who cooperate with Tidwell and the sheriff's gun-recovery investigation.
Already been posted twice in fact.
I'm torn by this.
On one hand, I hate seeing guns melted down and would rather see them in the hands of law abiding citizens than destroyed.
On the other hand, if this guy was a civvy, he would have been persecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There would be none of this "he's a really nice guy, he'd never make a profit off of them" BS.
BS! If it was a civilian he probably would have 500 charges against him. 4 felonies (that will probably be bumped down to misdemeanors) for 500 guns? That math just doesn't add up.
Also, where did the guns come from? If they are from criminals, than I don't care too much. But if they have owners (stolen property, or confiscated for stupid reasons, etc.) they should be returned.
Floyd is a damn good man!...
I never heard a bad word about him from anyone, I hear the guys on the Posse really liked him. I know that he is very pro-gun and I hope they get this overwith soon. I think that they will not look too deep into this, because Im sure that a lot of those guns just may show up in some very high ranking colsets.
It is good I am not a LEO, because I would be very tempted to keep any guns I had seized too.
A Chicago police officer I met once told me a story about a time he got to dump a bunch of guns in Lake Michigan under the watcheful eyes of some feds. Most of the guns were junk but he did see a very nive Colt SAA he would have kept if the Feds weren't there.