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Gun sale charges

Last winter at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, a man bought two SKS semiautomatic rifles with attached grenade launchers at a gun show and carried them out the door, according to the California Department of Justice.

He walked past private security and sheriff’s deputies before DOJ agents stopped him in the parking lot, the DOJ says.

It was just what the fairground board of directors wanted to avoid, after assuring gun-show opponents the event would have stepped-up security.



On Friday, felony charges were filed against the alleged seller, Grass Valley-area resident John Crabtree, 63. He’s scheduled to appear June 3 in Nevada County Superior Court.

Crabtree allegedly didn’t have the proper permit to sell the guns, ignored the 10-day waiting period, and attached grenade launchers, which is illegal according to DOJ, whose agents also reported finding machine-gun parts and a flash suppressor at Crabtree’s home.




Deputy District Attorney Ken Tribby said he will also file an infraction against show operator Larry Urrutia, a Colusa County resident, because the guns allegedly made it out the door.

Crabtree is accused of selling the guns Feb. 9, 2002, and his house was searched Feb. 14.

He claimed Friday he was entrapped by DOJ agents because they returned the guns to him at the show, told him to get rid of them, and seized them from his house five days later. He also said he was under the impression that the guns qualified as relics, and he was authorized to sell them.

Urrutia said he couldn’t comment without learning more about the allegations.

Gun show opponents Nick and Amanda Wilcox first sought cancellation of a 2001 show shortly after the Jan. 10, 2001, shootings that killed three, including their daughter, Laura, and left three injured. The show went on, and the Wilcoxes led a silent vigil at the fairgrounds.

For this year’s show, the Wilcoxes sought another cancellation, calling gun shows “a major avenue” for criminals, drug dealers and the mentally ill.

In a written reaction to Crabtree’s charges, they said: “Gun shows nationwide are known to provide a forum for unlawful activity. We made this point to the fair board at their December meeting and were assured, by both the board and the gun show promoter, that all laws are obeyed and the promoter runs a clean show. Apparently, they cannot make this guarantee.”

On Dec. 11, the directors voted 8-1 to approve the gun-show contract, with Ronald Lange, a Grass Valley lawyer, the lone dissenter.

“I’ll have to think about revisiting (the issue) in light of this,” Lange said.

Fair Director Pat Riley said the charges don’t change her outlook.

“You can’t change everything,” she said. “Look at the people who got on planes with munitions or guns or whatever after Sept. 11.”

Four of nine board directors – Jerry Davis, Darlene Moberg, Arnold Romanello and Jeanette Royal – couldn’t be reached for comment.

Director Jack Moorhead directed questions to Fair Board CEO Ed Scofield. Director Skip Lusk said he was recovering from back surgery and couldn’t comment. Director Ron Wolfson, also the assistant district attorney, declined comment.

The charges come after a recent state Supreme Court ruling that county fair boards have the right to ban gun shows. Scofield said it won’t impact Nevada County’s board because it already uses its own discretion with contracts.

At the gun show Feb. 9, an undercover DOJ agent planned to buy an SKS rifle and attached grenade launcher from Crabtree.

Crabtree said he had just sold the last two, but could get another the next day, the DOJ report says. The buyer, who wasn’t charged, was stopped in the parking lot, and the guns were returned to Crabtree.

The SKS is formally known as the SKS Zastava 59/66. In 1959, the Yugoslavian army adopted the Russian SKS into its arsenal, and in 1966, attached a grenade launcher.

Weapons dealer1s charges

Weapons charges filed against John Crabtree on Friday in Nevada County Superior Court include:

– Two felony counts of possession of a SKS Zastava semiautomatic rifle in a public place.

– A misdemeanor count of illegal title transfer of an SKS Zastava rifle.

– Three felony counts of having grenade launchers attached to SKS Zastava rifles.

– One felony count of possession of an assault weapon: a Ruger Mini 30 with a flash suppressor.

– One felony count of possession of parts intended for converting a firearm into a machine gun.


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