"Federal firearms licensees hold a position of trust. Violating the sale of firearms laws puts all of us in danger. Thank you to the federal and state agents who investigated this case." - CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
SACRAMENTO - On August 5, 2021, Joseph John Deaser IV, 51, of Arizona, was sentenced to four years in prison for aggravated identity theft and the illegal sale of firearms by a federally licensed dealer in violation of state law.
Under state law, California has an approved roster of firearms that may be sold to the public. A Federal Firearms Licensee is required to make sure any handgun sold is on the approved roster. There is an exemption, however, that permits licensed dealers to sell “off-roster” firearms, or firearms that do not appear on the approved roster, to sworn peace officers. Peace officers who own non-roster firearms may generally sell them to the public in a private sale, as long as the sale is brokered by a Federal Firearms Licensee.
According to court documents, Deaser was a federally licensed firearm dealer who owned and operated Capital Gun Club, a members-only gun club in Roseville, California. Between December 2014 and April 2018, Deaser circumvented California’s law by conducting at least 50 straw purchases of new off‑roster firearms using the names and personal identifying information of six peace officers that he had obtained through legitimate firearm transactions. By falsely reporting sales to peace officers, Deaser obtained new “off-roster” firearms registered to peace officers that he then sold to members of his private gun club, who could not have otherwise purchased the firearms.
In order to complete many of the transactions, Deaser completed and signed federal and state firearm transaction forms that the purchaser was required to complete using an officer’s identity as the purchaser. Deaser also placed his fingerprint — almost always his middle finger — on the state firearm transaction forms in the box designated for the “Purchaser’s Right Thumb Print.”
Publicly, Deaser was an advocate for gun safety and universal background checks, who testified on several occasions before federal and state legislatures.
“Circumventing California law to illegally sell firearms by using the identities of peace officers in order to make a profit is a crime that violates the public’s trust and puts the safety of Californians at risk,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Successful cooperation with our law enforcement partners has put an end to this scheme and brought resolution to this case.”
Deaser was charged and pleaded guilty in May 2019.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with assistance from the California Depart of Justice’s Bureau of Firearms. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael D. Anderson and Shelley D. Weger are prosecuting the case.