Arms dealer pleads no contest |

Arms dealer pleads no contest

A Grass Valley-area gun dealer accused of selling illegal weapons at the Nevada County fairgrounds was spared jail time Monday after pleading no contest to weapons charges.

John Crabtree, 63, entered the pleas to misdemeanor charges in county Superior Court. Judge John Darlington sentenced Crabtree to three years’ probation and a suspended 30-day jail sentence, which can be imposed if Crabtree violates probation.

The judge also fined Crabtree $370 and reserved the right to order Crabtree to attend firearms dealer training – if such a program is found.

Deputy District Attorney Chuck O’Rourke called the outcome “appropriate.”

Defense lawyer Jennifer Walters was pleased. She has maintained her client was overcharged in the first place, partly because he was confused by the state’s gun laws.

As for the proposed training, Walters said, “I don’t know that he necessarily needs it. I think he’s well educated from the (gun) collecting that he’s done, but anybody can benefit from a little education.”

Crabtree initially faced seven felonies and two misdemeanors after selling a gun show customer two SKS semiautomatic rifles with attached grenade launchers in February.

The felonies were either dropped or reduced to misdemeanors after a hearing last month. On Monday, Crabtree pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors, illegal firearms transfers and possession of an assault weapon.

Undercover state Department of Justice agents were monitoring the show at the time and stopped the buyer in the parking lot with the guns, which are outlawed in California because of the grenade launchers, a DOJ report says.

Agents returned the guns to Crabtree and told him to send them back to the out-of-state, mail-order supplier, but agents found the guns at Crabtree’s house a few days later while executing a search warrant.

The gun show is an annual event, but Walters wasn’t sure if Crabtree will have a booth next winter.

“I think he’s somewhat frustrated with the whole process, so I think he’ll keep a low profile for a while,” she said.

Meanwhile, the gun show operator, Larry Urrutia, is challenging a charge that alleges he allowed the transaction. A hearing in his case is set for Thursday.

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