Gun show organizer is fined |

Gun show organizer is fined

In a case watched by both sides of the gun control debate, the organizer of last winter’s gun show at the Nevada County Fairgrounds was fined $135 Tuesday after pleading no contest.

Larry Urrutia entered the plea in Nevada County Superior Court on an infraction of permitting illegal gun sales. Infractions are less serious than misdemeanors and don’t call for jail or probation. A trial had been scheduled for Thursday.

Urrutia, a 54-year-old Colusa County rice farmer, couldn’t be reached for comment afterward. His lawyer, Chuck Michel, said from his San Pedro office that the outcome offered consolation in a case blown out of proportion.

“As a former prosecutor, I certainly sympathize with the victims of violence. But this case wasn’t really about that,” Michel said.

Gun control activist Amanda Wilcox has followed the case with her husband, Nick, and was in court Tuesday. She left satisfied with the outcome.

At this year’s show in February, two assault rifles with attached grenade launchers were sold to a man who carried them to the parking lot, where he was stopped by undercover agents from the state Department of Justice.

The seller, Grass Valley-area resident John Crabtree, was charged with felonies, and he pleaded no contest in August to misdemeanors. He was fined $370 and put on three years’ probation.

Crabtree “didn’t have a license to engage in the transaction he engaged in,” Deputy District Attorney Chuck O’Rourke said.

Urrutia was first charged with a misdemeanor but it was refiled as an infraction, which is appropriate for a first-time offense, O’Rourke said. A second offense can prompt a misdemeanor.

Michel said the law, which requires promoters to assure legal gun sales, is fairly new and this was the first time he’s defended such a case. Michel has represented gun manufacturers, distributors, show organizers and the National Rifle Association during the past seven years.

He said Urrutia wasn’t sure how the weapons left the fairgrounds exhibit building, but he responded by planning a better checking system.

Michel said he’s unclear if Urrutia, who organizes shows in other counties, will return to Nevada County.

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