The state auditor is investigating a southwest Iowa sheriff’s office on an allegation involving the potentially-illegal sale of more than 100 confiscated guns to a firearms dealer. Fremont County Sheriff Kevin Aistrope says his office was contacted by a company in south-central Iowa which made an offer that sounded like a win-win.
“They sent us some literature and then called us saying, ‘Hey, we take firearms in trade for equipment you need and we will we take your firearms and we will buy what equipment you want and give to you,'” Sheriff Aistrope says.
“My chief deputy talked to them and said, ‘Hey, do you have any references of people you’ve dealt with in Iowa?’ and they gave five Iowa sheriff’s offices’ names.” The company in question is called High Velocity Limited and is based in New Virginia, Iowa.
Aistrope says Chief Deputy Steve Owen followed up on the references by calling three of them. “They said, ‘Yep, we’ve done this exact deal and we’ve dealt with them,’ so we thought, ‘Okay, it must be all right,’ and this High Velocity sent us a form that we take to the judge and get signed off, giving us possession of the guns. We took it to our county attorney. She looked at it and she got the document signed by the judge for us.”
The case reportedly involves 114 firearms — pistols, rifles and shotguns, all that had been confiscated from crime scenes. Aistrope says the weapons had been collected over a period of several years and they were stored in an interview room at the Fremont County Jail. The sheriff says he was concerned about having the weapons stored in that way.
Aistrope says the deal sounded solid. “We’ve got three sheriff’s offices saying, ‘Yep, this is the way we’ve done this,’ and we’ve got the paperwork signed out by district court,” Aistrope says.
“Ignorance is no excuse but that’s what led us down this path.” State law stipulates guns seized by local law enforcement agencies during criminal investigations cannot be sold, traded or given away.
Aistrope says he was wrong to not turn the guns over to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation as required by state code. He says he takes full responsibility for the error. Aistrope says he expects the state audit report to be completed within a few days.
By Mike Peterson, KMA, Shenandoah