Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov said he wants to decide by Friday whether to file charges in connection with Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey providing a handgun to the former Gretna city administrator.
“I would expect to have all reports from the State Patrol within a couple days,” Polikov said Monday night.
Meanwhile, Stacey has retained Omaha attorney James Martin Davis in connection with the handgun probe.
Davis said Stacey didn't violate the law.
“There was no crime,” Davis said. “In this case, Chief Stacey simply lent Colleen (Lawry) this firearm. It was not a transfer of ownership. He can lend his gun to anybody he wants. John Stacey knows what the law is because John is the chief of police.”
On May 4, the Nebraska State Patrol confiscated a .38-caliber handgun from Lawry's home during a widening investigation into her activities and her possible ties to Stacey.
A court document filed by the patrol states it was investigating whether Lawry acquired a handgun without a certificate, as required by state law.
Lawry never was issued a handgun permit in Sarpy County, according to the court documents.
The patrol obtained a search warrant for a specific handgun, a .380-caliber Kel Tec, after receiving a tip that Lawry had obtained it from Stacey. Instead, the investigator found a Taurus .38-caliber handgun.
According to state law, a person shall not sell, lease, rent or transfer a handgun to a person who has not obtained a certificate except under certain circumstances, including a temporary transfer, which is defined as when the recipient remains “in the line of sight” of the person transferring the gun or when the recipient is “within the premises of an established shooting facility.”
Other legal transfers of handguns that do not require a certificate are, according to the law: those among spouses, siblings, parents, children or other immediate relatives; when the recipient is a peace officer, a legal firearms dealer or holder of a valid concealed-carry permit; when the gun is an antique; or when the person acquiring the handgun “is authorized to do so on behalf of a law enforcement agency.”
Davis said Stacey loaned Lawry both handguns.
“They were his,” Davis said.
He said Stacey gave Lawry the .380-caliber Kel Tec several months ago but that Lawry didn't like it and returned it. Davis said Stacey then gave her the .38-caliber Taurus that the patrol investigator recovered from her home.
“She was a single mom with children,” Davis said of Lawry. “John, being a friend, lent her a firearm, and nothing is illegal about that. John has had a lot of guns, and he expected to get the .38 back from her.”
The investigation into the gun comes as Stacey is on administrative leave pending a city investigation. The investigation reportedly stems from an allegation that he made an inappropriate remark to someone at the Bellevue Fire Department.
The Bellevue City Council met Monday in executive session for about 45 minutes, before its regular evening council meeting, said City Administrator Daniel Berlowitz. The chief's status is believed to have been one of the topics discussed during the closed-door session.
There was no discussion of Stacey or his employment status during the regular council session.
Berlowitz said Monday night he hopes to resolve the personnel matter involving Stacey “by the end of this week.” He said he is awaiting a final report from the city's law firm, Adams & Sullivan, which is investigating the matter.
“From there, I will have to decide if any disciplinary action is needed,” Berlowitz said.
Polikov is handling the handgun matter. He also has charged Lawry with a felony in connection with her alleged personal use of money from a Gretna senior citizens fund.
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