San Joaquin County
District Attorney's Office

District Attorney Concludes Gun Sale Investigation

RE: Request for Independent Investigation
Dear Sheriff Moore:

The San Joaquin County District Attorney's office has conducted an investigation into the sales of firearms by the San Joaquin Co;unty Sheriffs Office between July 2011 and July 2012, inclusive. Our office has concluded the investigation and we have found no violations of California criminal statutes.

Genesis of the Investigation:
Between 2011 and 2012, a former Sheriffs Office employee brought forth his concerns to the District Attorney's Office about improprieties in the firearm sales. The former employee requested an investigation, and this request was declined by the previous administration. In February 2015, the former Sheriffs Office employee renewed his claims to the new District Attorney, who agreed to investigate the sales, and instructed the former Chief of Investigations to proceed accordingly. 1 In a July 26, 2015, newspaper article, a San Joaquin County Sheriffs deputy also complained about the sale of firearms by the Sheriffs Office.

Despite this direction to the former Chief, the District Attorney investigation did not commence until after your meeting with Chief Derksen on July 30, 2015. 2 In the newspaper article, the deputy made three primary allegations: First, firearms were displayed at the range "yard sale-style" for administration to select for future purchase. Second, the Park Ranger revolvers were stripped before being sold to the dealer, fetching a lower price, and allowing deputies to reassemble the revolvers after their purchase. Finally, the four semi-automatic handguns were not eligible for sale, and had to be shipped out of state or destroyed. The former Sheriff employee, who was also quoted in the article, further alleged to the investigator that Sheriff Moore purchased the .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun because it was used by convicted murderer Westley Shermantine to kill a prostitute.

The dealer later sold the firearms for a higher price than that paid to the Sheriff. This is the nature of a wholesaler, and this investigation cannot conclude that the Sheriff, or the County, was denied fair value for the firearms. It was in the best interest of the Sheriffs Office to receive top dollar for the firearms because the credits received were to purchase additional equipment for the Sheriffs Office.

The Uniform Crime Charging standards require prosecutors to critically analyze and evaluate all of the available information to ensure a case has been fully investigated and there is legally sufficient, admissible evidence to establish a crime has been committed. In addition, prosecutors are required to ensure there is legally sufficient, admissible evidence of the identity of the perpetrator. Finally, the prosecutor must be personally satisfied the accused is guilty of the crime and, considering the most plausible and reasonably foreseeable defense(s), whether there is legally sufficient evidence to convince a jury of the accused's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that leaves one with an abiding conviction that the charge is true.

In evaluating the totality of the circumstances, under a reasonable doubt standard, it cannot be said that there were violations of California criminal statutes. There was a lack of credible evidence presented in support of the allegations. Quite often statements were made relying upon rumor and innuendo, which is inadmissible hearsay. Here there was insufficient documentation provided to support the claims, and there were no witnesses who corroborate the alleged misconduct. A witness admitted to the investigator that he was not at the range and did not see the stripped revolvers about which he spoke publicly.

It is of concern that the three semi-automatic handguns, of unknown origin and histories, and the three arguably more desirable collectors handguns sold by the Sheriffs Office, were purchased at a substantial discount. And, it was the range employees, a sergeant and a deputy, who first dissembled and later bought these guns, after being entrusted with their documentation and sale. While not a violation of state law, these practices should not be condoned going forward. It is also disappointing that the District Attorney's Office did not investigate these cases when they were first presented in 2011 or 2012. A timely investigation, although reaching the same conclusion, would have provided transparency in the transactions, squelched rumors, and prevented the disharmony that grew for over five years. Current District Attorney investigatory practices now require that future investigations of this nature not be declined, and that the investigations be conducted thoroughly and expediently for the public wellbeing.

On April 18, 2016, the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office provided our investigation to the Federal Bureau oflnvestigations, working in conjunction with the United States Attorney's Office, for review of possible violations of federal law. As of this writing, neither Agency has informed us of any federal law violations from these allegations.