Culver City Edition West Edition

Leimert Park gun dealer faces charges in gun sale

LOS ANGELES — City Attorney Mike Feuer announced criminal charges have been filed against a Leimert Park gun dealer and a civilian security officer accused of improperly taking part in the sale of more than one firearm within a 30-day period.

Civilians who are not sworn members of law enforcement are prohibited from buying more than one firearm within a month.

Feuer alleges West Los Angeles College security officer Amelia Suarez — a civilian employed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department — illegally sought an exemption meant for sworn police officers that allowed her to purchase two 9-millimeter pistols.

Suarez purchased the guns on Oct. 14, 2014, according to Feuer. Both guns were delivered to her two weeks later, and in early 2015, Suarez sold one to a friend who used the gun in a homicide in Riverside County earlier this year, prosecutors allege.

City prosecutors allege Suarez lied on her firearms purchase application and served as a straw purchaser for the “longtime family friend,” whose name was withheld, as were the details of the murder that person allegedly committed.

Multiple misdemeanor charges were filed against both Suarez and Barkochba Botach, owner of Botach Tactical, the company that sold the guns to her.

Botach is also charged with illegally selling Suarez six ammunition magazines each holding 17 rounds, city attorneys said.

City officials noted that under a city law set to go into effect in a month, possession of magazines with more than 10 rounds also will be prohibited.

If convicted of the charges, Botach could face as much as a year and a half in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Suarez could face similar penalties if convicted.

City Council President Herb Wesson, who represents Leimert Park where Botach Tactical is located, said there have been many complaints over the years about the store, which is located in an “area that is in the beginning stages of a new facelift.”

The store sells most of its wares online and caters only to active law enforcement or members of the military.

Wesson said that with the enforcement of the gun laws, “it might help us negotiate with these business folk to move this to a more appropriate location.”

Councilman Paul Krekorian, who authored the law banning the possession of high-capacity gun magazines within Los Angeles, joined Feuer to highlight the city’s enforcement efforts.

He said this case is an example that “yes, we do need more gun laws.”

Feuer said his role as a prosecutor is “reactive,” but by highlighting this case, he is hoping to “prevent other incidences from occurring in the first place.”

“If we can send the message that we’re going to be on the case, I think it’s likely to have that effect,” he said.

Feuer said as a Los Angeles City Council member, he authored a city law prohibiting the general public from buying more than one gun within 30 days, with the state later adopting a similar law.