Of course LEOs, as civilians, are under the same laws as all of us are .... but is this how the law was intended to be used? A rare live news conference was held to announce these indictments ... why? Because they were potential terrorist? .... or a contribution to the “illusion of due diligence”.
This is what "well meaning" gun laws can do for/to you.
(the orginal ariticle is here: http://www.belleville.com/mld/belleville/13651161.htm)
Three troopers accused of having machine gunsFormer Glen Carbon man also chargedFrom staff and wire reportsFAIRVIEW HEIGHTS - Three Illinois State Police troopers from the metro-east have been suspended from their jobs after they and a Springfield doctor were accused of illegally possessing machine guns, authorities said Tuesday.
Troopers Greg Mugge, John Yard and James Vest each were charged last week with one count of illegally possessing a machine gun last year, as was former Glen Carbon resident Dr. Harold Griffiths, 69, of Spaulding. The U.S. attorney's office here unsealed the charges Tuesday.
Mugge, 51, of Jerseyville, is a senior master trooper with the state police in Litchfield. Vest, 39, of O'Fallon, is a sergeant in Collinsville. Yard, 36, of Collinsville, is a state police special agent in Collinsville who once worked for the FBI's public corruption task force in Fairview Heights, authorities said. Griffiths now practices medicine in Springfield, prosecutors said.
None of the affidavits accompanying the criminal complaints revealed Griffiths' connection to any of the police officers, other than he allegedly loaned one of the guns to Yard in October. Interim U.S. Attorney Edward McNally refused to discuss details of the cases beyond the criminal complaints.
The troopers have been suspended with pay until formal charges are filed with the state police's merit review board, after which time their leave would become unpaid, according to Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent.
The four were arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis and released on their own recognizance, McNally said. None of the accused entered any pleas, pending preliminary hearings set for Feb. 10 or the case being presented to a grand jury, McNally's office said.
Each charge carries a possible 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, prosecutors said.
"While I'm very disappointed and deeply regret the judgment used by three of our officers, they are not above the law," Trent said during a news conference with McNally and other law enforcement officials.
Trent said the three accused troopers could have lawfully possessed the machine guns if they were assigned to them as part of their work duties, but they could not have them as private citizens.
John O'Gara, a Belleville attorney for Griffiths, said his client -- a Vietnam veteran and former part-time California police officer -- "has been an upstanding citizen his entire life and was obviously upstanding throughout this investigation."
"My client is a tremendous man and is at all times a gentleman," O'Gara said, deferring comment about the specific charges.
On Dec. 22, when Illinois State Police agents searched the residence where Griffiths now lives in Spaulding, they found the machine gun, which had been converted illegally to a fully automatic firearm.
The complaint charges that Griffith admitted to having fired the weapon on at least two occasions, He also admitted to having loaned the weapon to Yard in October. Agents seized some other firearms from the Spaulding residence.
A record check revealed that Griffiths had not registered the guns, the complaint said.
Mugge and Griffiths both are accused of owning Colt AR-15 SP1 models, with Mugge's able to fire as an automatic weapon when a piece of metal was inserted and Griffiths' illegally converted to fire automatically.
Authorities said Vest owned a Colt M4-M16 A2E designed to operate as a machine gun. The gun was purchased in 1998 from a California dealer.
Vest, a 16-year veteran trooper, told police that he maintained the weapon at his home and occasionally at Illinois State Police District 11 headquarters in Collinsville.
Mugge, a 21-year veteran trooper, reported he got his weapon from a now-deceased federal firearms licensee in the Harrisburg area sometime between 1978 and the early 1980s.
None of the home telephone numbers for the accused troopers were listed. A U.S. District Court clerk said Tuesday she had no immediate information on whether any of them had attorneys.
Calls on Tuesday to the state police post in Collinsville seeking to leave messages for Vest and Yard were directed to Sgt. Rick Hector, a Springfield spokesman for the agency. Hector said he could not divulge the officers' home telephone numbers.
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