A man said to have been a major supplier of guns that wound up in the hands of Los Angeles gang members has been sentenced to 14 months in prison on a variety of federal charges related to record-keeping.
Authorities said that Canyon Country resident Dean Schaafsma, 35, may have sold as many as 900 cheap handguns to people who then resold them to gang members and others. One of the guns was used in a 1991 killing and another was seized after the attempted shooting of a Los Angeles police officer, authorities said..
Schaafsma pleaded guilty last month to five counts of failing to keep proper records of gun transactions and one count of making false statements to a federal agent. U.S. District Court Judge Edward Rafeedie sentenced him on Tuesday, and he is to surrender Oct. 23.
But Michael Brennan, Schaafsma’s federal public defender, objected to any characterization of his client as a supplier of weapons to gang members.
“He was convicted of not keeping proper ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) records in the sales of five firearms,” Brennan said. “There was no allegation or no information in front of the court that he sold weapons to gang members.”
ATF Special Agent John D’Angelo said that “at one point, Schaafsma was a major supplier” of guns that were eventually sold to gang members.
The investigation of Schaafsma began in 1991 when police in Inglewood arrested a man for carrying a pistol. They were unable to find required state records of the gun’s sale and asked for ATF help in tracing it.
D’Angelo said the gun was traced to Schaafsma, a federally licensed gun dealer, through a North Hollywood wholesaler. But when investigators searched Schaafsma’s Canyon Country apartment, he could not produce required federal records identifying purchasers of the guns. D’Angelo said Schaafsma also told investigators he had purchased only about 50 guns from the wholesaler when, in fact, he already had distributed nearly 400.
D’Angelo said police agencies have recovered about 180 of the weapons Schaafsma is believed to have sold to middlemen, who then passed them on to gang members. The guns, .38-caliber pistols and 9-millimeter semiautomatics, turned up in concealed weapons arrests, drug raids, burglaries and other crimes, D’Angelo said.