Hotchkiss Man Pleads Guilty To Theft Of Detective's Assault Rifle
DENVER – Keaton Bell, age 24, of Hotchkiss, Colorado, pled guilty late last week before Senior U.S. District Court Judge John L. Kane to one count of possession of stolen firearms and ammunition, and to one count of possession of machine gun the United States Attorney’s Office, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced. Judge Kane is scheduled to sentence Bell on August 22, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
According to court documents, including the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, in October 2012, an Eagle County Sheriff’s Office detective and SWAT team member was in Denver undergoing cancer treatment. He lived in Gypsum, Colorado, with his girlfriend, who visited him periodically in Denver during his cancer treatment. The detective’s girlfriend gave her girlfriend permission to stay at the detective’s Gypsum home while the two were in Denver for the cancer treatment. The person staying at the home invited her boyfriend, Keaton Bell, to stay with her in Gypsum.
While Bell and his girlfriend were at the home between October 5 through October 7, 2012, they got into a fight. Bell eventually left, taking the detective’s SWAT equipment, including a machine gun, a hand gun, ammunition and tactical gear, which had been stored in the basement of the home. Some of the equipment and weapons were owned by Eagle County.
At the time the crime was reported, Bell was reportedly in Alberta, Canada, working for a mining company. Officers went to Bell’s home in Hotchkiss, Colorado on November 2, 2012, and were unable to reach anyone. Investigators continued to locate Bell when he responded via text about his location. He then called the officers when he became available. Officers asked for permission to search Bell’s pickup. He granted them permission as along as a family member was present. During the search officers found, among other things, a leg holster for a taser that the Special Operations Unit of the Sheriff’s Office, to which Hall was assigned, uses. Hall confirmed the leg holster was his. Officers then issued a state warrant for Bell’s arrest.
On November 20, 2012, Bell was reported as a suspicious person at a Wal-Mart in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and police were called. The Glenwood Springs Police Department arrested Bell on the Eagle County arrest warrant. Investigators confirmed that Bell stole from Hall a Colt rifle, a Glock, a .380 pistol, magazines, and a suppressor for the rifle. They also found out that once Bell returned from Canada that put the stolen items into his truck.
The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office obtained a state search warrant for the truck, and found a camouflage-colored rifle case under the driver’s side rear wheel well which contained the following items stolen from Hall’s home: a Colt M4 Commando .223 Fully Automatic Rifle, an EOTech Sight System, a Surefire Light System, a GemTech Halo Suppressor, a Glock 9mm model 26 semi-automatic pistol, and two .223 magazines. They also found the Bersa .380 with holster under the hood and in the engine compartment of the vehicle.
The Colt rifle is imprinted with information that the weapon is fully automatic. Further, the firearm was clean when it was stolen and dirty when recovered, evidencing that it had been fired.
Bell faces up to ten years imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine for each of the counts that he has pled guilty to.
This case has been investigated by the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The defendant is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer.