Nebraska State Patrol investigators confiscated a handgun from the home of fired Gretna City Administrator Colleen Lawry as part of a widening investigation into her activities and possible ties to Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey.
The State Patrol obtained a search warrant for Lawry's Gretna residence after getting a tip that Stacey had given Lawry a handgun, according to the search warrant affidavit filed in Sarpy County District Court.
But Lawry was never issued a handgun permit in Sarpy County, according to the affidavit.
Last week, Lawry was charged with a felony for allegedly taking money from a Gretna senior citizens fund. Stacey was placed on administrative leave after he reportedly made an inappropriate remark to someone at the Bellevue Fire Department.
The World-Herald reported this week that Lawry and Stacey took four overlapping out-of-state trips over a six-month period, charging thousands of dollars to their employers.
According to the State Patrol search warrant, Lawry stated that a friend had given her a handgun and that it was hidden inside her home in Gretna's Plum Creek subdivision.
The State Patrol went to Lawry's house May 4, seeking a Kel Tec .380, a small handgun purchased by a Bellevue police officer other than Stacey.
Instead, investigators found a black Taurus Model 85, which is a .38-caliber revolver. Court records do not indicate who purchased or owned the Taurus.
It will take at least a week for authorities to trace the serial number from the gun found in Lawry's home, said Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov.
Polikov said the State Patrol plans to interview Stacey about the gun, too.
“The informant told us (Lawry) had spoken about a gun,” Polikov said. “The State Patrol went looking for a specific handgun, and it was our belief that she had obtained a handgun with improper documentation.”
If that's true, it's a misdemeanor violation, according to the search warrant affidvait.
Also on Thursday, Polikov said his office issued a subpoena this week to the City of Bellevue, seeking all email communications involving Stacey and Lawry.
Polikov said his office hoped to obtain the electronic communications on Friday or early next week. He said it would take investigators at least a week to sort through them.
Polikov said it appears that all of the national police and fire conferences that Stacey attended over the past year were legitimate expenses. “But there are questions about why he is going to national fire conferences,” Polikov said.
Stacey had been the volunteer Bellevue fire chief from 1984 until 1998, and he continues to work a volunteer fire shift twice a week. Bellevue Fire Chief Perry Guido said he told Stacey earlier this year that Stacey would no longer represent the department at national training conferences.
Meanwhile, the Bellevue City Council on Monday night will hold a rare closed-door discussion on a personnel issue. The subject is believed to be Stacey.
Council President Scott Houghtaling said he has instructed City Administrator Daniel Berlowitz to expand his investigation of Stacey.
Houghtaling declined to elaborate on the investigation but said: “This City Council has been about promoting transparency. If something comes up, we are not going to cover up anything. I have asked Dan Berlowitz to look into a few more things.
“We are not going to tolerate anything, if there is any wrongdoing,” he said. “We need to know what the evidence is to make sure there was no wrongdoing.”
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