Crime & Courts

2 former Bel Aire cops indicted in alleged gun-sales scheme

Two former Bel Aire police officers were charged Tuesday in a federal indictment involving an alleged scheme to buy and sell guns, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.

The indictment alleges that one of the two men devised “a scheme to buy and sell firearms by falsely claiming the firearms were property of the Bel Aire Police Department and would be used for law enforcement purposes,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in an e-mail statement. The other man is “accused of trying to cover up the crime,” the office said.

Nathan Mavia, 26, of Wichita, faces one count of mail fraud, the office said. Mavia was a Bel Aire officer from February 2012 to June 2014.

Robert McCaslin, 40, of Wichita, is charged with one count of making false statements during a federal investigation, the statement said. McCaslin was a Bel Aire officer from August 2007 to February 2014.

As a way to buy guns at lower prices for personal use or resale, the office said, Mavia allegedly “devised a scheme to falsely certify that the firearms would be owned by the Bel Aire Police Department and would be used for law enforcement purposes.”

The indictment, according to the news release, alleges that Mavia ordered three rifles from the manufacturer Sig Sauer and falsely certified that they were being obtained for official use. On Nov. 15, 2013, one of the rifles was delivered to the Bel Aire Police Department, and two other rifles were delivered to another place.

Three days later, on Nov. 18, 2013, the interim Bel Aire police chief contacted a Sig Sauer representative, who said Mavia had an account with the manufacturer, the indictment said. The gun purchase involved a letter with a Bel Aire police letterhead, a copy of Mavia’s ID card and a cashier’s check. Mavia paid for the three rifles with a cashier’s check for $3,947, the indictment said.

On Jan. 29, the interim chief found an FNH model PS90 rifle in the department armory, but the agency didn’t allow officers to carry such a gun on duty, the indictment said, according to the statement.

The interim chief discovered that two other PS90 guns were bought at the same time. A letter said the weapons were being ordered for official use, the news release said.

A credit card for Officer #1 – another officer, not identified by name in the indictment – was used to pay $2,132.29 for the PS90 rifles on Aug. 17, 2012.

In December 2013, investigators with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office interviewed McCaslin, who said he thought the PS90 rifles were bought for personal use, according to the indictment. McCaslin said that Mavia and another officer each ordered one. He said he did not know who received the third PS90, the release said.

During another interview, McCaslin said the third PS90 might have been sold to one of his friends, the indictment said. Investigators found a man who bought a PS90 from a Bel Aire officer for $699, and no ATF Form 4473 was completed.

The indictment accuses Mavia of paying another officer for one of the PS90 rifles, “knowing that the rifle was being purchased by the officer, and that Mavia did not complete the required ATF form,” the statement said. “Mavia knew at the time of the purchase that police department policy did not allow officers to carry this type of firearm.”

If Mavia is convicted, he would face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the mail-fraud charge, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

McCaslin faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the charge of making a false statement, the office said.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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