Former Ohio Police Chief and Two Indiana Gun Dealers Plead Guilty in Conspiracy to Illegally Traffic 200 Fully Automatic Machine Guns
Dorian LaCourse, 66, of Milford, Ohio, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy and making false statements. LaCourse is the former Chief of Police in the Village of Addyston, Ohio. LaCourse was indicted by a federal grand jury for using his law enforcement position to illegally help two federally licensed firearms dealers in Indiana acquire and resell approximately 200 fully automatic machine guns using false documents. The firearms dealers, Johnathan Marcum, 34, of Laurel, Indiana, and Christopher Petty, 58, of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, previously pled guilty in separate cases to participating in the same conspiracy.
According to court documents, LaCourse, Marcum, and Petty, illegally exploited a law enforcement exception to the federal ban on the possession or transfer of fully automatic machine guns. As Chief of Police, LaCourse signed multiple “demonstration letters” falsely stating that the Village of Addyston Police Department was interested in purchasing various types of machine guns, including military-grade weapons, and asking that Marcum and or Petty give the demonstration. Marcum and Petty then sent the letters to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) in order to obtain the weapons. Addyston is a village in southwestern Ohio of approximately 1,000 residents. LaCourse was the village’s only full-time police officer.
LaCourse also placed direct orders for German-made machine guns that were purported to be paid for by the Police Department. In fact, the purchases were fully funded by Marcum and Petty and intended to bypass restrictions on the importation of such weapons by anyone other than the police or the military.
The Addyston Police Department was never authorized to purchase any of the machine guns, and the Indiana gun dealers never provided any demonstrations of machine guns to the police department. Instead, the gun dealers resold the machine guns at a significant profit. In some instances, a gun dealer resold illegally acquired machine guns for five or six times the purchase price. The conspirators purchased or caused the importation of approximately 200 fully automatic machine guns. LaCourse received over $11,500 from the gun dealers for his role in the scheme.
LaCourse pleaded guilty to conspiracy, making false statements in records maintained by a federal firearms licensee, and making false statements to the ATF. He faces up to 15 years in federal prison. Marcum and Petty have both pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and each faces up to 5 years in federal prison. Actual sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors and are typically less than the maximum penalties. Each of the three men will be sentenced at a later date.
Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, and Travis S. Riddle, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Columbus Field Division made the announcement.
The ATF investigated the case.
U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys James M. Warden and William L. McCoskey, who are prosecuting this case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Chicago Gun Trafficking Strike Force and has prioritized investigation and prosecution of gun trafficking crimes. On July 22, 2021, the Department of Justice launched five cross-jurisdictional strike forces to help reduce gun violence by disrupting illegal firearms trafficking in key regions across the country. These gun trafficking strike forces are designed to ensure coordination across jurisdictions and help stem the supply of illegally trafficked firearms from source cities, through other communities, and into five key market regions: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area/Sacramento Region and Washington, D.C.