The damaged relationship between Reno ATF and the US Attorney office has left Reno vulnerable to gun and drug crimes. The Reno Gazette-Journal chronicled three cases the US Attorney’s office refused to prosecute. The District Attorney of Washoe County is now investigating these cases.
Ronald Eugene Jackson of Sparks was convicted on a domestic battery charge in 2010. This means he is not allowed to posses a firearm. However, in September 2011, while investigating robberies, Sparks police and an ATF agent found a cache of weapons at his home. He was arrested and the case was given to the US Attorney’s office. They turned it away. The district attorney could not prosecute him because his prior conviction was not a felony.
“We cannot prosecute firearm possession on the state level for misdemeanor domestic battery convictions,” said Deputy District Attorney Kay Lyon.
Instead, he was convicted for possession of a short-barrel shotgun, “but the judge discharged him two days later.” His ex-wife spoke to the RGJ about this and needless to say she isn’t pleased.
“They just let these guys go and they’re free to hurt people and cause mayhem,” said Juli Jackson.
Joseph Jordan Desjardins, a convicted felon, was arrested after the ATF found him with a firearm. A grand jury indicted him on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, but the US Attorney’s office wouldn’t pick it up. A federal prosecutor filed a motion to dismiss the case.
Another felon, Randall Keith Belford, was also arrested after being found with a firearm. He was indicted on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Like Mr. Desjardins, his case wasn’t picked up and the prosecutor filed a motion to dismiss the case.
The FBI and DEA have stepped in to handle some cases, but they’re not working on firearms sales or trafficking cases. This has caused the ATF data on guns collected to drop. In 2006, 4,533 guns were recovered by law enforcement. Only 2,204 were recovered in 2011 due to the US Attorney’s office not picking up the ATF cases. If they have any leads on guns they send them to Las Vegas.
This rift has left Reno helpless and still no one is giving answers or fixing the problems. How long will the ATF and US Attorney’s office risk public safety before they fix their problems?