TULSA, Okla. — A Tulsa police officer pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally buying a gun.
According to court documents, Officer Latoya Lisa Dythe, 26, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make a false statement to a firearms dealer and making a false statement to a firearms dealer. She is free on bond until sentencing in July.
Dythe will face a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a fine not to exceed $250,000.
Investigators said Dythe lied on the required Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473, specifically where the form asks the buyer if they are purchasing the firearm for themselves. The form said: “Warning: You are not the actual transferee/buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person. If you are not the actual transferee/buyer, the licensee cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you.”
Dythe marked she was purchasing the gun for herself, but investigators said she instead purchased the firearm for Devon Jamyll Jones, 27. Jones is also currently in custody facing state charges.
In December of 2020, U.S. Attorney Trent Shores, Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Melissa Godbold of the Oklahoma City Field Office announced the charges at a press conference at Tulsa Police Department Headquarters.
“Police officers are entrusted with enforcing the law to make our city safer. When a police officer breaks the law, however, it does great damage to the public’s trust. This prosecution involves an allegation that an officer, Latoya Dythe, engaged in criminal conduct by facilitating a “lie and buy” transaction as a straw purchaser,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “In October, Chief Franklin and I launched the 2150 initiative, making a public pledge to investigate and prosecute these types of gun cases because they often lead to violent acts. In this case, Chief Franklin and his Department brought this case to federal agents and prosecutors and worked in partnership with my office as this investigation moved forward.”
“Our system of justice is based on the cornerstones of trust and accountability,” said Melissa Godbold, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Oklahoma City Field Office. “It’s the trust that the community has in law enforcement – to do the right thing, in the right way, all day, every day. Without that trust, we have nothing.”
“Investigators within the Tulsa Police Department Crime Gun Unit received this case and immediately began working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms," Godbold said. "We have worked in partnership with the United States Attorney’s Office throughout the duration of this investigation and will continue to do so as this process moves forward. When the actions of an employee of the Tulsa Police Department bring ill repute to the Department, it tarnishes the good work done by the hundreds of other officers who wear the badge with honor.”
As part of the conspiracy, Dythe, and Jones allegedly made false statements and representations to an employee of the Bass Pro Shop, a federally licensed firearms dealer, when Dythe allegedly lied on the ATF Form 4473.
They said on April 11, 2020; the defendants approached a Bass Pro Shop employee. Dythe asked to handle a handgun. The employee asked Dythe if she was purchasing the gun for herself rather than for Jones. They said she replied she was a Tulsa police officer and knew the law.
They said Dythe filled out and signed the required form, indicating the firearm was being purchased for her. She then paid for the gun using cash provided by Jones. Dythe gave Jones the gun once the two were in the parking lot.
The ATF Form 4473 questions potential firearms purchasers about their criminal history. The form also asks if the purchaser is buying the gun for him or herself. The firearms dealer cannot transfer the gun to the purchaser if they are acquiring it on behalf of another individual.
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