Skip to comments.Carlton chief, sergeant face firearms charges (BATF now persecuting local police)
Posted on 10/19/2003 12:41:47 AM PDT by fire_eye
CARLTON - Federal firearms charges have been brought against Police Chief Lee Whalon and Sgt. Rick Noble, who make up two-thirds of the Carlton Police Department.
They were arraigned Wednesday before a federal magistrate in Medford, then released from custody on their own recognizance pending an April 29 trial. Each pleaded not guilty to all counts of the indictments brought against them, and each remains on the job in Carlton.
Whalon and Noble each stands charged with possession of an unregistered silencer, an unregistered sawed-off shotgun and unregistered semiautomatic rifles classified as machine guns under federal law. Each also was charged with transferring ownership of the rifles without first obtaining authorization through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The criminal indictment was handed up by a federal grand jury Feb. 14, following a three-year investigation. It also charges Noble, the department's second-in-comand, with possession of a sawed-off rifle.
"It's a lot to have over your head," said Whalon, who has been a police officer for 12 years. "When you've gone all your life being the good guy, and all of a sudden you're the suspect, that can be draining,"
The charges are based on activities that took place shortly after the two left the force serving the small Southern Oregon town of Merrill and moved to Carlton.
Another longtime police officer, David Rott of Klamath Falls, was the first to be charged in connection with the case. Rott, who succeeded Whalon as police chief in Merrill, entered a guilty plea last year under terms of an agreement negotiated with federal prosecutors.
Whalon, who has long been aware he was the focus of a federal firearms investigation, said he has no intention of following suit.
"I truly believe, and have from the start, that we really didn't do anything wrong," he said. "I'm not going to back down and say I did."
Whalon is represented by Eugene attorney Richard Fredricks, who was appointed on his behalf by the court.
"I worry about my family," he said. "It's hard on them.
"But I'm not going to throw my career away. I have to do what's right."
Whalon started his law enforcement career as an unpaid reserve in McMinnville. He was serving as chief in Merlin when the Carlton chief job opened up in 1998.
Noble had been working for Whalon in Merrill. He joined Whalon in Carlton the following year.
The investigation began three years ago with a probe into restricted weapons owned by the Merrill Police Department. More than a year ago Whalon and Noble came under investigation individually by agents of the Department of Justice and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Rott pleaded guilty to a single count of official misconduct in January 2002 for his role in the arms transaction. He was sentenced to 20 days in the Klamath County Jail and three years probation.
As part of a negotiated agreement, Rott agreed to give up his police certification. By then, he already had switched to a different line of work.
"I'm sorry Carlton gets a black eye from this just by association," Whalon said. "I think in the end it's gong to work out.
"We have reasonable explanations, and we have a lot of support from the city and the community. We're banking on the truth here."
According to Whalon, buying and trading equipment from one another is common practice among small police departments. Sometimes it's the only way they can get what they need.
He said he and Noble entered into such weapons bartering with Rott in an effort to acquire needed equipment. "It's a public safety courtesy," he said.
He said the federal firearms investigation grew out of political infighting that erupted in Merrill after the mayor and several city councilors were replaced. He said Rott came under criticism from the new city leadership and was eventually fired.
Rott's dismissal came at a time when Whalon was trying to complete a transaction involving seven semiautomatic rifles being used by the Merrill department. A qualified rifle instructor, he said he thought Carlton's three full-time officers and seven reserves could make good use of them.
He said the rifles had been declared surplus by the British military and dumped on the market at bargain-basement prices. He said they were never fitted for fully automatic use, but were built on the same frame as the fully automatic version, so were classified as machine guns under ATF regulations.
Whalon said he did complete the required paperwork, but it wasn't until October 1999, by which time some of the weapons had already been shipped to Carlton. He said that's his only impropriety, as far as he can see.
"I tried to do the best for my police agency that I could," he said. "I wouldn't go back and change what I've done, but I could've done a better job with the paperwork."
Whalon said the silencer and the rest of the guns weren't sent to Carlton until Merrill received notice from the ATF that the trade had been approved under the National Firearms Act.
Not long after that, Whalon said, city officials conducted an inventory and discovered the firearms were gone. Rott, who had been the city's only police employee, was unable to explain the transaction to their satisfaction, triggering an investigation.
When the ATF first contacted him, Whalon said, he gathered up all of the firearms in question and voluntarily turned them over to investigators.
I think you are letting 70 years of liberal propaganda get to you. Silencers were legal for about 20 years, and we had no problems with them. The only reason that we can find that was given for their inclusion in the 1934 federal firearms act was that Roosevelt administration officials were worried about them being used for poaching, but that no one had ever been caught poaching with one.
The effective ban on silencers because of the required $200 tax has been one of the worst government health policy disasters in history. Litterally millions of people have suffered hearing loss for lack of a $5 gun muffler.
I think the real reason for the ban was to insure that people could not conduct pistol practice in their back yard without annoying the neighbors. Silencers were treated as a social necessity for decades in europe. People were not allowed to obtain a pistol permit unless they showed that they were also obtaining a silencer, so that the neighbors would not be annoyed. Silencers were very common on hunting rifles in Britain up to a decade ago for this very reason.
In Finland today, anyone may own, purchase, make, or trade a silencer without a permit, and they don't have any problems because of this freedom. We should have the same freedom here.
Yup, it's a tough decision. But maybe if more of the really good guy locals get enough heat from the FedGovThugs, they will become a more vocal advocate for the civilians who finds themselves in the same spot. It's getting time to chose up sides, it would be nice to see the local police on the side of freedom, and if this it what it takes to convince them...
"my guess is their radio signals are going to be too weak to be heard by any police radio in this county..."
You say that like it's a bad thing. During Prohibition 'revenuers' used to go missing in the woods all the time. It wasn't a bad thing then, and it wouldn't be a bad thing for a few of these BATF goons to go missing now.
What we have here is tyrannical laws, tyrannically enforced. The charges amount to failure to do proper paperwork. I don't know about others here, but it seems to me that people should not be put in jail and have their lives destroyed for failure to do paperwork. If that is the case I think just about everyone in America could be put in jail.
For criminal purposes, firearms are easy to silence with a pillow, blanket, or plastic liter bottle.
Nope, not exactly. If the receiver was originally designed for use with select fire it remains a machine gun in eyes of the BATF, even if you remove the auto sear and other parts required for automatic fire. When the prohibition of manufacture of new machine guns for civilian use was enacted in 1986, it basically refered to receivers. The auto sear and other parts are basically useless without it.
- The question is this:
"Have you ever, in your life met SOMEONE you thought should not own such weapons either because they were:
a) not mature enough. IOW, they couldn't be trusted to exercise proper 'fire control. Age related to some degree, sure, but also related to 'development' in life - have they developed proper discipline to be trusted with devices that can take human life.
b) incapable of handling said weapon (weren't simply big enough, too small a frame for the large bore rifles, etc)
c) mentally incapacitated beyond the point where they could be trusted to control their 'fire' (mentally incompetent - can't judge proper from improper use of weaponry that can potentially kill)
d) deemed to be a risk because of their 'criminal bent'"