KANSAS CITY, KAN. – Two Linn County men pleaded guilty Monday to federal firearms violations, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.
Barry Walker, 70, Mound City, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of allowing a convicted felon to possess firearms and ammunition. Jeffrey Nicholas, 47, Pleasanton, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of possessing firearms and ammunition after a felony conviction.
In their pleas, they admitted that Nicholas, who had been convicted of a felony drug charge in Clark County, Nevada, worked selling firearms at Big Bear’s Gifts & Pawn Shop in Pleasanton, which was owned by Walker. Walker is the former Linn County Sheriff.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives first became aware Walker was allowing Nicholas to handle firearms during a compliance inspection at Big Bear’s Gifts & Pawn Shop on Nov. 10, 2011. Walker was counseled about the violation and agreed to prevent Nicholas from having any further access to firearms.
During another compliance inspection at Big Bear’s in November 2012, Walker told investigators that Nicholas had not handled any firearms transactions and that Walker conducted all transactions related to firearms. Investigators obtained evidence, however, that Nicholas had conducted transactions involving firearms. They learned that Nicholas would handle firearms transactions and then leave the forms for Walker to sign.
At various times from May 11, 2013, to Aug. 14, 2013, undercover ATF officers purchased firearms from Nicholas at Big Bear’s.
Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date. The defendants face a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Grissom commended the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheri McCracken for their work on the case.