Former Police Chief Indicted in Machine Gun Scheme
Allegedly conspired with two Indiana gun dealers to acquire over 200 fully automatic weapons and re-sell them at a profit
Indianapolis – Acting U.S. Attorney John E. Childress announced today that Dorian LaCourse, 65, of Milford, Ohio, was indicted by a federal grand jury for his role in a scheme to use his position as Chief of Police for the Addyston Police Department in Addyston, Ohio, to help two federally licensed firearms dealers in Indiana acquire hundreds of machine guns. LaCourse was indicted on charges of conspiracy and making false statements to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
Childress also announced today that the two Indiana gun dealers, Johnathan Marcum, 33, of Laurel, Indiana, and Christopher Petty, 57, of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, have been charged with conspiracy for their roles in the machine gun scheme.
“Federal laws regulating the purchase, transfer or possession of firearms exist to promote public safety,” said Childress. “When people violate those laws, they unacceptably threaten the safety of others. This office will vigorously pursue those who commit federal firearms offenses, regardless of who they are. We expect better from our public servants, and when police officers violate the law, they can expect to be investigated and prosecuted like any other citizen. I am confident that LaCourse’s criminal choices do not represent the vast majority of law enforcement in this country.”
According to the Indictment, LaCourse and the two Indiana firearms dealers exploited a law enforcement exception to the general federal ban on fully automatic machine guns. The Village of Addyston, Ohio, has approximately 1,000 residents, and the Addyston Police Department has up to 10 officers, most of whom were part-time. However, according to the Indictment, between 2015 and 2019, LaCourse signed multiple letters and other official documents as Chief of Police falsely claiming to the ATF and others that the Addyston Police Department was interested in purchasing or receiving demonstrations of machine guns.
The Addyston Police Department and Village of Addyston had no intention of purchasing machine guns or receiving demonstrations of machine guns. Instead, these allegedly false statements were a pretense to gain ATF approval for Marcum and Petty to acquire machine guns, which they re-sold to other federally licensed firearms dealers at a profit—of which LaCourse got a portion. According to the Indictment, LaCourse received 11 checks payable to him totaling over $11,500.
In four instances, LaCourse falsely claimed on ATF forms and other documents that the Addyston Police Department was the actual purchaser of machine guns, including two bulk purchases of a total of 18 guns from German manufacturer Heckler & Koch. On one document required by the German government, which pertained to the importation of the machine guns into the United States, LaCourse is alleged to have falsely stated that the Addyston Police Department was the “end-user” of the guns. In reality, according to the Indictment, Marcum purchased the guns for the purpose of re-selling them—Marcum paid for them, picked them up from the Addyston Police Department when they arrived, and promptly re-sold them at a profit of over $8,000 each.
In all, the Indictment alleges that through their scheme, LaCourse’s false statements and representations induced the ATF to approve the purchase or importation of approximately 200 fully automatic machine guns. The types of guns acquired ranged from smaller submachine guns to automatic assault rifles, to belt-fed machine guns for military use. One of those guns was an M2 .50 caliber belt-fed heavy machine gun, which according to the Indictment, is a vehicle- or ship-mounted weapon that is effective against lightly armored vehicles and low-flying aircraft.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
“No matter who you are, it is a crime to make false statements to acquire firearms and allow them into the hands of those who cannot legally possess them,” stated Roland H. Herndon, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division. “LaCourse, Marcum, and Petty all used their positions and knowledge of the system to illegally transfer fully automatic weapons for profit, with no regard for any potential impact that might have on our communities.”
According to Assistant United States Attorneys Nick Linder and William L. McCoskey, who are prosecuting this case for the government, LaCourse faces up to 5 or 10 years in prison on each charge if indicted and convicted. Marcum and Petty each face up to 5 years.
An indictment is merely a charge and not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven otherwise in court.
In November of 2020, Acting United States Attorney John E. Childress renewed a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution demonstrates the Office’s enduring commitment to investigating and prosecuting those who engage in fraud and violate the public trust. See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan Sections 5.1 and 5.3.