11.13.2008

TS - Trinidad PD recommends theft charges against Gundersen

☛ TS Trinidad PD recommends theft charges against Gundersen

Trinidad Police Chief Ken Thrailkill said his department turned its investigative report into its former chief, David Ray Gundersen, over to the District Attorney's Office Wednesday, recommending that Gundersen be charged with theft, embezzlement and evidence tampering.

Gundersen is accused of taking firearms from the Trinidad Police Department's evidence locker while acting as police chief between 1997 and 1999, then allegedly trading them and other guns to Southern California's Cinema Weaponry in exchange for a Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun and a silencer -- the same weapons Gundersen was just convicted in September of illegally possessing, according to Thrailkill.

”Basically, he took the weapons without authorization from the city or the Police Department of Trinidad,” Thrailkill said. “Nobody had authorized him to, first of all, have those in his possession and, secondly, to trade Trinidad evidence for illegal firearms.”

Now that his department has finished its report and charging recommendations, Thrailkill said the case is in the court of the District Attorney's Office.

”My understanding is that they're moving forward with it,” Thrailkill said. “Any final determination is in their hands.”
District Attorney Paul Gallegos was not available for comment by deadline.

Gundersen's attorney, Russell Clanton, also could not be reached by deadline.

In total, Thrailkill said his department is recommending Gundersen be charged with one count of embezzlement, four counts of felony grand theft by a public official, four counts of evidence tampering and one count of violating a court order.

In addition to being in touch with the DA's Office throughout the investigation, Thrailkill said his department also worked with the United States Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms on the case.

Thrailkill said the department began investigating the case after the DA's Office turned up Trinidad Police Department evidence in the Blue Lake evidence storage facility while serving a search warrant on the property in February.

Gundersen was acquitted in September of 24 counts of spousal rape with the use of an intoxicant, but convicted of 11 lesser charges of battery and charges of illegally possessing both a submachine gun and a pistol with a silencer. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 21.

There's also the chance Gundersen might see federal charges related to the cache of nearly 30 submachine guns found at the Blue Lake Police Department after his arrest.

ATF special agent Nina Delgadillo told the Times-Standard in a previous interview that she participated in an investigation into Gundersen, the findings of which were turned over to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Josh Eaton declined to comment on the matter, and the office has yet to officially file any charges.

Thadeus Greenson can be reached at 441-0509 or tgreenson@times-standard.com