Ex-Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey acquitted in gun case - Omaha.com
Published Friday, February 22, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 11:31 am
Ex-Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey acquitted in gun case

A yearlong saga that began in a restaurant parking lot ended in a courtroom Thursday when former Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey was acquitted of a misdemeanor charge of transferring a firearm without a certificate.

It was at a Village Inn in Bellevue where then-Gretna City Administrator Colleen Lawry told Stacey she was worried about her safety. He lent her two guns so she could see how they felt before she purchased her own, Stacey testified.

But prosecutors said he erred because he didn't check whether she had obtained a certificate that allows a person to acquire a handgun in Nebraska.

Stacey said he didn't believe that the certificate was necessary for the loan of a handgun — only for a sale — and the Sarpy County Court jury agreed.

“This was really, really something simple and ridiculous,” Stacey said of the case.

James Martin Davis, his lawyer, argued that the law applied only to commercial transactions such as selling or leasing a handgun.

After the gun loan last year, Stacey retired from his job and Lawry was fired from hers amid allegations of impropriety.

Lawry was convicted of two misdemeanor counts in connection with her misuse of City of Gretna funds, and she is serving six months in jail. A gun charge against her was dropped as part of a plea deal.

Stacey had been placed on leave as police chief after allegations surfaced that he had made an inappropriate remark to a girl at a fire station.

He was publicly drawn into the Lawry matter when The World-Herald revealed that the pair had taken four overlapping out-of-state business trips to the same places.

The gun trial was the saga's last official chapter.

Prosecutor Nicole Hutter acknowledged that it's unusual to prosecute a former police chief. But she said he shouldn't be exempt from the law because of his position.

“This is not about who Mr. Stacey was,” she said. “It's about what he did.”

Davis accused the prosecutor's office of targeting Stacey.

“What are they trying to accomplish?” he asked. “What message are they trying to send?”

Lawry testified Thursday that she and Stacey met regularly to chat at the Village Inn.

She told him she was worried about her and her daughters' safety. Stacey suggested that she buy a handgun from Cabela's.

“I told her that she needed to obtain a firearm to protect herself,” Stacey said.

Lawry told him she was unfamiliar with guns and would feel uncomfortable about that.

She testified that Stacey, whom Lawry called “a former colleague of mine,” said she could borrow a gun from him.

In two instances, they walked to the restaurant's parking lot and he gave her a paper bag with a handgun and bullets, Lawry said.

She returned the first gun because it was too large and borrowed a smaller one.

“I literally only saw the guns for a matter of seconds before they went under my bed and stayed there,” Lawry said.

The two had no discussion about obtaining a certificate, Lawry said.

Stacey said he issued hundreds of firearm certificates as police chief and did not believe that the law applied to loans of firearms. He thought he was following the law, he said.

“There's nothing in the law about it being illegal to borrow or lend,” Stacey said.

After the verdict was read, Stacey said he was relieved.

“It's good to put it all behind,” he said.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1084, roseann.moring@owh.com

Contact the writer: Roseann Moring

roseann.moring@owh.com    |   402-444-1084    |  

Roseann covers Bellevue and Sarpy County crime.

High school slam poets don't just recite verses, 'they leave their hearts beating on the stage'
Crack ring's leaders join others in prison as a result of Operation Purple Haze
Omahan charged in fatal shooting in Benson neighborhood
High court denies death row appeal of cult leader convicted of murder
State Department moves to delay Keystone XL pipeline decision
Haze in area comes from Kansas, Oklahoma
Man taken into custody in domestic dispute
Omaha judge reprimanded for intervening in peer attorney's DUI case
Intoxicated man with pellet gun climbs billboard's scaffold; is arrested
Police seek public's help in finding an armed man
Saturday forecast opens window for gardening; Easter egg hunts look iffy on Sunday
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Last day of 2014 Legislature: Praise, passage of a last few bills and more on mountain lions
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
A voice of experience: Ex-gang member helps lead fight against Omaha violence
Church is pressing its case for old Temple Israel site
OPPD board holding public forum, open house May 7
The thrill of the skill: Omaha hosts statewide contest for students of the trades
A recap of what got done — and what didn't — in the 2014 legislative session
When judge asks, Nikko Jenkins says ‘I killed them’
Nancy's Almanac, April 17, 2014: Trees save money
'The war is not over,' Chambers says, but legislative session about is
PAC funded by Senate candidate Ben Sasse's great-uncle releases Shane Osborn attack ad
Teen killed at Gallagher Park was shot in head as he sat in SUV, friend who was wounded says
New UNO center strengthens ties between campus, community
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Breaking Brad: At least my kid never got stuck inside a claw machine
We need a new rule in Lincoln. If your kid is discovered inside the claw machine at a bowling alley, you are forever barred from being nominated for "Mother of the Year."
Breaking Brad: How many MECA board members can we put in a luxury suite?
As a stunt at the Blue Man Group show, MECA board members are going to see how many people they can stuff into one luxury suite.
Kelly: Creighton's McDermotts put good faces on an Omaha tradition
A comical roast Wednesday night in Omaha brought fans of Creighton basketball laughter by the bucketful. This time it was McJokes, not McBuckets, that entertained the Bluejay crowd.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »