Attorney General clears Madawaska police of wrongdoing in gun sale
MADAWASKA, Maine — (Updated at 5:30 p.m., 12/14/16) The state attorney general’s office has cleared the Madawaska Police Department of any wrongdoing for unknowingly selling confiscated guns to a person who was legally prohibited from possessing firearms, according to Madawaska Town Manager Ryan D. Pelletier.
The police department obtained the guns “by virtue of a court forfeiture order for the police department’s assistance in a 2012 federal drug investigation in Madawaska,” according to a statement Pelletier issued on Tuesday, Dec. 13.
Pelletier said that after he became aware in October 2016 of the gun sale, he and the Madawaska Board of Selectmen requested the investigation.
The attorney general’s office reported to the town manager on Tuesday, Dec. 13 that there “is no credible evidence that anyone in the department knew or could have known that the individual was in fact a prohibited person,” according to Pelletier’s statement.
In the statement, Pelletier leaves the buyer of the guns unnamed, withholds the number and model of the guns the police sold, and leaves unsaid whether the prohibited individual has been charged with a crime.
It also was unclear whether the police department conducted a criminal background check on the person who bought the guns. There is no law requiring law enforcement to run background checks prior to disposing of surplus or seized firearms.
Local police referred questions to Pelletier, who said he would not name the person or provide any further information about the case. Tim Feeley, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said Wednesday, Dec. 14, that he had “no public records that I can provide to you” concerning the case.
Aroostook County District Attorney Todd Collins said in an email Wednesday that his office does “not have an open case on this matter. I am awaiting more information, though, from the AG’s office.”
Federal law prohibits certain persons from purchasing or possessing firearms, such as felons, certain domestic abusers, and certain people with a history of mental illness.
As a result of this case, Pelletier said that the town in the future will destroy confiscated or forfeited weapons rather than sell them. The town also has “instituted a policy that any and all donations offered to the Town by individuals or organizations or to any town department will first be brought forward to the Board of Selectmen in a public meeting. ”
It is unclear how the new policy regarding donations relates to the firearms sale investigation.
Pelletier ended the statement by declaring that he and the selectmen “consider this matter closed.”