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Man’s illegal gun sales led to firearms in felons’ hands, at murder scene

rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com

A federal judge sentenced Monday the Meridian man who illegally sold hundreds of firearms at gun shows, some which landed in the hands of drug traffickers, sex offenders and one was found at the scene of a murder.

Steven Clyne, 70, will serve two years and three months in federal prison for dealing firearms without a license and making false statements when purchasing firearms.

Clyne did not have a license to sell guns and he was not performing background checks on buyers, according to the Idaho U.S. Attorney’s Office .

His failures while selling guns ultimately ended with those guns being used at crime scenes and in the hands of dangerous criminals in Idaho, California and other locations.

According to evidence presented at trial, Clyne purchased hundreds of firearms from licensed firearm dealers and then resold those same firearms to others for an increased price at area gun shows from January 2013 until Nov. 12, 2015.

Each time Clyne purchased the firearms from local gun stores, he completed paperwork certifying that he was the actual buyer of the firearms and would not resell the gun.

Each form also specifically notified Clyne that “the repetitive purchase of firearms for the purpose of resale for livelihood and profit without a federal firearms license is a violation of federal law.”

The jury concluded in March that Clyne willfully committed the crime, knowing that his conduct was unlawful.

After learning that guns purchased by Clyne were found at numerous crimes scenes, agents began to investigate Clyne.

During the investigation, undercover agents purchased numerous firearms from Clyne at Treasure Valley gun shows. On one occasion, an agent telephoned Clyne and asked to purchase two handguns. Clyne agreed to sell the handguns and told the agent he would purchase the handguns later that same day.

When Clyne purchased the handguns from the licensed firearm dealer, he falsely stated that he was the buyer of the handguns, knowing that he was actually buying the handguns on behalf of another person, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

On Nov. 12, 2015, law enforcement searched Clyne’s home and found about 30 firearms and other items showing Clyne was selling firearms illegally.

Clyne admitted to agents that he purchased firearms, increased the prices, and then resold the firearms.

At sentencing, the prosecution said at least 10 firearms sold by Clyne were later recovered at crimes scenes or in the hands of dangerous criminals.

Police in Modesto, California, found one of the guns at the scene of a murder, where the man in possession of the gun was murdered during a botched drug deal.

Another gun initially purchased and then resold by Clyne was found in Los Angeles, in the possession of a registered sex offender. Police recovered that gun, along with child pornography and components used to make a bomb.

Other firearms purchased by Clyne were recovered in Idaho, including two found in Nampa and another near Twin Falls. Those firearms were recovered from convicted felons who were trafficking meth.

Police also recovered at least three other firearms linked to Clyne in California and another was found in Phoenix.

During sentencing, Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill found that the number of firearms involved in the offense was in excess of 200 and was probably closer to 400.

Winmill also concluded that Clyne had not accepted responsibility. The judge took into account Clyne’s age and his accompanying health conditions when sentencing him.

“In his pursuit of money, Steven Clyne willfully disregarded federal law knowing that certain people would pay a premium for not having to complete paperwork and a background check,” said Acting United States Attorney Rafael Gonzalez. “This case is an unfortunate example of what happens when someone violates those federal firearms laws.”

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