Two former Richmond Police Department officers were sentenced to probation and time in a halfway house and home detention respectively for illegally supplying minors with firearms.
The judgment, delivered by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken on Tuesday, August 23, followed the conviction of Danny Harris, Jr. and Raymond Thomas, Jr. on charges filed in July 2011 that both men deliberately obstructed justice and tampered with evidence in the investigation of charges that Harris purchased firearms for two underage individuals while he was employed by the Richmond Police Department.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of California, Harris and Thomas operated a private security guard business, Strategic Reliance Group Security, while they worked as Richmond police officers. They did so without the knowledge or consent of the Richmond Police Department. The security business employed several minors who were former members of the Richmond Police Department Explorers, a program aimed at exposing local youth to law enforcement.
“We were concerned about the nature of the allegations and saw the damages this behavior did to our reputation in the community,” said Richmond Police Department Captain Mark Gagan. “In an effort to rebuild the confidence of people suspicious [of our reputation] we wanted to make sure this case was successfully prosecuted.”
Harris and Thomas pled guilty in early March; Harris to charges that he knowingly falsified purchase forms for two Glock pistols with the intention of giving the weapons to two minors employed by Strategic Reliance Group Security. According to the U.S. Attorney’s press release, Harris purchased the pistols from a licensed firearms dealer in San Jose on two separate occasions in 2009.
“In pleading guilty, Harris admitted that he lied and said that he was the true buyer when, in fact, the individuals who paid for the guns, and who were going to use and possess the guns, were two minors,” the press release states.
According to the California Bureau of Firearms, “No person, corporation, or firm shall sell, loan, or transfer a firearm to a minor.”
“For someone who has lived a life of community service and self improvement, [Harris] lost his way and made a series of bad choices,” said Attorney Paul Delano Wolf, who represented Harris in criminal court.
Thomas pled guilty to charges that he and Harris conspired to regain possession of one of the purchased firearms, for fear the weapon would be used as evidence in the charges against Harris. The men were convicted of the “intent to obstruct, influence, or impede a federal grand jury investigation or federal court proceedings,” according to the press release.
Judge Wilken sentenced Harris to five years probation, and six months at a halfway house followed by six months of home detention. Thomas will serve three years probation and six months of home detention. “I don’t think anything bad will happen as a result of [Harris] not going to prison,” Wolf said. “Mortification and destruction of his good purposes were avoided by this sentence. I have tremendous respect for the judge, and the time and thought she put into this.”