Crime - Sacto 911

Former Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy gets probation for firearms dealing

Thomas Lu, a former Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy, on Thursday received the leniency he bargained for when he pleaded guilty four years ago to selling firearms without a license and agreed to cooperate in the government’s investigation and prosecution of other gun traffickers.

He was sentenced to two years on probation, half of which will be spent on electronically monitored home confinement.

But not before U. S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley

told Lu, were it not for the fact he is the caretaker of his very sick 3-year-old son, “you would be in custody.”

Nunley noted that some of the charges against Lu and three co-defendants involve sales of weapons that civilians cannot lawfully possess.

“When the public reads about cases like this, they are even more convinced they should not trust law enforcement,” Nunley declared. “Trust in the police, especially in some segments of the community, is eroding,” the judge said in reference to the controversial shooting deaths of suspects, many of them African Americans, by officers.

“This kind of conduct (by Lu) just adds fuel to the fire that’s raging across this country,” Nunley added. “It’s a sad commentary, and it feeds right into the perception that officers see themselves as above the law, that they take the law into their own hands.”

A federal grand jury indictment states that Lu peddled guns without a license between March 2008 and November 2011, while working at the Rio Consumes Correctional Center. He was suspended with pay in the fall of 2011, then handed in his badge in May 2012. Three months later he pleaded guilty.

Lu, 46, of Elk Grove, testified for the government at the first trial of co-defendants Ryan McGowan, another former Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy, and Robert Snellings Jr., a licensed firearms dealer. The jury deadlocked as to McGowan and Snellings, and a mistrial was declared. The pair were found guilty at a second trial.

The first jury found Ulysses Simpson Grant Early IV not guilty. He had been charged with an unlawful purchase of a gun from a Roseville police officer.

McGowan, 35, of Elk Grove, was found guilty on one count of dealing in firearms without a license and one count of conspiring to falsify firearms records, and was sentenced to a year and a half in prison. He is appealing.

Snellings, 65, was found guilty on five counts of conspiring to cook the books on transactions at his Sacramento gun shop. He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

Denny Walsh: 916-321-1189