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Leimert Park gun dealer, security officer charged with illegal firearm sales

OW Staff Writer | 10/1/2015, midnight
City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Tuesday that his office has filed multiple criminal charges against a South Los Angeles firearms ...

City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Tuesday that his office has filed multiple criminal charges against a South Los Angeles firearms dealer, Barkochba Botach, and a security officer, Amelia Suarez, in connection with the alleged illegal sale and purchase of two firearms with large capacity magazines.

Suarez allegedly acted as a straw purchaser for another individual and knowingly provided false information on a federal firearms purchase application and obtained the firearms from Botach’s dealership. Suarez reportedly sold one of the firearms to an individual who used it to commit a homicide in Riverside County earlier this year.

“Our gun laws can prevent tragedies. But when those laws are circumvented, there can be dire consequences,” said Feuer. “It's critical that firearms dealers comply with rules designed to protect the public."

“Gun violence is the second leading cause of death in children and teens, and the number one cause among Black youth," said L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson. "We cannot stand idly by as firearms dealers ignore the laws put in place to protect the public."

“Our city leaders are working together to pass common-sense gun safety laws and to enforce those already on the books,” said Councilmember Paul Krekorian. “I applaud the City Attorney for filing this case and continuing his consistent work to keep Angelenos safe. In one month, law enforcement will have yet another tool to protect the public, when my ordinance banning the possession of large capacity magazines in Los Angeles takes effect.”

On Oct. 14, 2014, Suarez, a civilian employed with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department as a security officer at West Los Angeles College, allegedly purchased two Smith & Wesson 9mm pistols from Botach Tactical, located at 3423 W. 43rd Pl. in Leimert Park. Each firearm was allegedly sold with three magazines, each with a 17-round capacity.

Barkochba Botach, a licensed firearms dealer and owner of Botach Tactical, allegedly gave Suarez an improper exemption available only to sworn law enforcement personnel, which allowed her to purchase the large-capacity magazines and more than one handgun in a 30-day period.

Suarez allegedly purchased one firearm for herself and one on behalf of a long-time family friend. On the ATF Firearms Transaction Record, however, Suarez allegedly claimed she was purchasing both firearms for herself, effectively bypassing state law safeguards against straw purchasers. Botach delivered both firearms to Suarez on Oct. 28, 2014. In early 2015, Suarez allegedly transferred one of the guns directly to her friend informally, without going through the proper registration procedures and background checks necessary to legally transfer a firearm under California law. Shortly afterward, the friend allegedly used the firearm, still registered in Suarez’ name, to commit a homicide.

Botach was charged under Penal Code (PC) Section 32310(a) with one count of sale of a large-capacity magazine and LAMC Section 55.14(c) with one count of sale of more than one handgun within a 30-day period, both laws Feuer wrote when he was on the Los Angeles City Council. The counts carry a maximum sentence of up to one year in county jail, and six months in county jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines, respectively.