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Press Release

Former Commander Of The Pacific Grove Police Department Pleaded Guilty To Possession Of Stolen Firearms

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN JOSE – John Nyunt pleaded guilty in federal court today, to possession of stolen firearms, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson.

Nyunt was a commander at the Pacific Grove Police Department (PGPD) and an instructor at the former police academy at the Monterey Peninsula College (MPC). In pleading guilty, Nyunt admitted to stealing assault rifles, shotguns, and semi-automatic pistols that the MPC was seeking to divest after its decision to close the police academy. The MPC asked Nyunt if the PGPD would accept them as a donation. Knowing that the PGPD did not want the firearms, Nyunt signed a memorandum of understanding with the MPC that falsely stated he was accepting the firearms on PGPD’s behalf, even though he was not authorized to execute such an agreement nor accept the firearms.

After the MPC relinquished possession of the firearms to Nyunt in or about August of 2009, he consigned most of them, including 27 Glock semi-automatic pistols and 5 Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistols, to a firearms dealer, who over time sold them on Nyunt’s behalf, paying Nyunt the proceeds from those sales minus his commission. Nyunt took back five of the Glocks and personally sold or gave them to other people. In this manner Nyunt maintained possession and control of some or all of the firearms he stole from the MPC until in or about November of 2012, when he had disposed of the last of the guns.

Nyunt, 52, was charged by information on Dec. 11, 2014 with a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(j). This is Nyunt’s second pending federal case. Earlier this year, on May 13, 2014, Nyunt pleaded guilty in case no. CR-14-00235-BLF to extortion and wire fraud charges that, like the charges to which he pleaded guilty today, were based on his conduct while commander at the PGPD.

Nyunt’s consolidated sentencing hearing for both cases is scheduled for April 7, 2015, at 9:00 a.m., before the Honorable Beth L. Freeman, United States District Court Judge, in San Jose. The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(j) is ten years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution. Pursuant to the binding plea agreement, if accepted by the court, the parties have agreed that the defendant should be sentenced to thirty months’ imprisonment, to run concurrent with his sentence in case no. CR-00235-BLF. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Philip A. Guentert is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Elise Etter. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.

Updated December 16, 2014