For Immediate Release
Former Ohio Police Chief Sentenced for Illegally Trafficking 200 Fully Automatic Machine Guns
INDIANAPOLIS – Dorian LaCourse, 66, of Milford, Ohio, was sentenced today to 3 years’ probation, including 6 months home detention for conspiracy and making false statements. LaCourse is the former Chief of Police in the Village of Addyston, Ohio. Two federally licensed firearms dealers in Indiana were his coconspirators, Johnathan Marcum, 34, of Laurel, Indiana, and Christopher Petty, 58, of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, previously pleaded guilty in separate cases to participating in the same conspiracy and will be sentenced later this year.
According to court documents, LaCourse, Marcum, and Petty, illegally exploited a law enforcement exception to the federal ban on the possession or transfer of fully automatic machine guns. As Chief of Police, LaCourse signed multiple “demonstration letters” falsely stating that the Village of Addyston Police Department was interested in purchasing various types of machine guns, including military-grade weapons, and asking that Marcum and or Petty give the demonstration. Marcum and Petty then sent the letters to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to obtain the weapons. Addyston is a village in southwestern Ohio of approximately 1,000 residents. LaCourse was the village’s only full-time police officer.
LaCourse also placed direct orders for German-made machine guns that were purported to be paid for by the Police Department. In fact, the purchases were fully funded by Marcum and Petty and intended to bypass restrictions on the importation of such weapons by anyone other than the police or the military.
The Addyston Police Department was never authorized to purchase any of the machine guns, and the Indiana gun dealers never provided any demonstrations of machine guns to the police department. Instead, the gun dealers resold the machine guns at a significant profit. In some instances, a gun dealer resold illegally acquired machine guns for five or six times the purchase price. The conspirators purchased or caused the importation of approximately 200 fully automatic machine guns. LaCourse received over $11,500 from the gun dealers for his role in the scheme.
“Law enforcement officers are sworn to protect our communities and uphold the law, and the public has a right to expect police powers are used for the public good,” stated Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “Instead, the defendant sold his badge to facilitate a criminal machine gun trafficking conspiracy. With heartbreaking regularity, we see the carnage that criminals can inflict on our communities with weapons of war. Today’s sentence demonstrates that officers who violate the public’s trust with utter disregard for the public’s safety will be held accountable.”
“LaCourse committed an egregious betrayal of the public’s trust by engaging in this machine gun trafficking scheme,” stated Travis S. Riddle, Acting Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division. “I hope that this sentence serves as an example to anyone else out there who might be tempted to betray their oath of office and their responsibility to their community.”
The ATF investigated the case. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker. As part of the sentence, Judge Barker ordered that the defendant pay a $11,800 fine. Over 100 illegally obtained machine guns, 52,500 rounds of ammunition, and over $6,000 in proceeds of the crime seized from LaCourse’s office desk will be forfeited to the United States.
U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys James M. Warden, William L. McCoskey, and Nicholas J. Linder who prosecuted this case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Chicago Gun Trafficking Strike Force and has prioritized investigation and prosecution of gun trafficking crimes. On July 22, 2021, the Department of Justice launched five cross-jurisdictional strike forces to help reduce gun violence by disrupting illegal firearms trafficking in key regions across the country. These gun trafficking strike forces are designed to ensure coordination across jurisdictions and help stem the supply of illegally trafficked firearms from source cities, through other communities, and into five key market regions: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area/Sacramento Region and Washington, D.C.