Crime & Courts

Men who stole guns from Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office vehicle sentenced to prison

Two men who admitted to stealing guns from a Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office vehicle have been sentenced to prison, federal prosecutors said.

Justin W. Winger, 37, was sentenced Monday to 33 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to failure to report a crime, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a release. Winger admitted in his plea that he was with Travis J. Keller, 38, when Keller broke into an undercover cop car and stole guns.

Keller previously pleaded guilty to one count of possessing stolen firearms and was sentenced in October to 57 months in prison.

Investigators wrote in court documents that a sheriff’s detective on April 18 found windows broken out of his unmarked vehicle in northwest Wichita. Three guns owned by the sheriff’s office were missing — a “shotgun, an assault rifle and a handgun,” the affidavit states.

Winger was on parole at the time, Kansas Department of Corrections records show. State records show Winger has been in and out of prison multiple times over the past decade, mostly for drug related convictions.

The investigation led detectives to Keller and Winger, court documents state. Winger told investigators that they had to call his girlfriend to pick them up after stealing the guns because their borrowed pickup broke down. Winger said that Keller sold the guns to Arthur M. Mannie for $400 and an ounce of marijuana.

Mannie is scheduled for trial Jan. 8. He denied buying and selling the guns, but texts on his phone showed otherwise, court documents state. Investigators found other stolen sheriff’s office property at Mannie’s house, but they didn’t find the guns.

The guns had not been recovered when the affidavit was filed on April 26, detectives wrote. They were a Glock 9 mm handgun worth about $400, a 12-gauge Remington shotgun worth about $550 and a 5.56-caliber Bushmaster M4 rifle worth about $650.

The sheriff’s office said Tuesday in a statement that two of the three guns have since been recovered.

In a statement not directly related to the case, Wichita police on Monday said that about 250 guns have been stolen from vehicles in the city so far this year.

“Guns left unsecured in vehicles are a great concern to law enforcement, as they have the potential to be used in a violent crime,” the police statement said. “To illustrate, this year a WPD Officer was shot inside his home by a burglar with a stolen gun, and Sedgwick County Deputy Robert Kunze was shot and killed in the line-of-duty with a stolen gun.”

The police statement encouraged gun owners to securely store their weapons, both in vehicles and in homes.

“A safe community requires the diligence of us all including responsible gun owners,” police said. “Please help us make the Wichita area safe. Lock your guns up.”

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