Boyce Chief Convicted; Will Resign Office

This is a discussion on Boyce Chief Convicted; Will Resign Office within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Boyce Police Chief Claude Williams was convicted Wednesday on three weapons charges, a conviction his attorney said has a "chilling effect" on law enforcement officers ...

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Thread: Boyce Chief Convicted; Will Resign Office

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    Senior Member Array mrreynolds's Avatar
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    Boyce Chief Convicted; Will Resign Office

    Boyce Police Chief Claude Williams was convicted Wednesday on three weapons charges, a conviction his attorney said has a "chilling effect" on law enforcement officers everywhere.

    "This is a ground-breaking case," Williams' attorney Larry English said after the unanimous federal jury verdict was read. "... If any law enforcement officer has an illegal weapon outside of the (police department's evidence room) they are subject to criminal charges."

    Williams was found not guilty of two other federal charges both of making a false statement to federal agents after the three-day trial this week.

    Because of his convictions, Williams will resign as Boyce's Police chief and surrender all of his weapons by 5 p.m. today, English said. His bond was continued, and his sentencing is scheduled for March 19 before U.S. District Judge Dee Drell. He faces as many as 30 years in prison.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney James Cowles Jr. argued in his closing statements that the case was about principles and that no man, even a police chief, is above the law. He stressed that the law is clear that if illegal weapons are taken from a police department's evidence room that "must be" properly registered.

    Cowles repeatedly referred to the weapons in Williams' case a machine gun, rifle and sawed-off shotgun as "inherently dangerous." The M-16 rifle .223-caliber machine gun was found leaning against the wall of the sunroom in Williams' home during an investigation by the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office Metro Narcotics Unit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

    Two other weapons a Remington rifle, Targetmaster model 510, .22-caliber with an overall length of less than 26 inches and a barrel of less than 16 inches in length and a Western Arms 12-gauge shotgun with an overall length of 26 inches and a barrel of less than 18 inches were found under a broken display case in the back of his personal van, according to the federal indictment. None of the three were registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

    Williams testified that he was unaware of the law requiring the guns be registered and that his home and vehicle were extensions of the police department as he did official police work out of both. He also testified that the weapons were all being used for community outreach and educational programs and weren't in operational use.

    "If the weapons were kept in the evidence locker, we wouldn't be here today," Cowles said. "If they are going to be used they have to be registered. That's the law."

    English stressed both during his closing arguments and to the media after the trial's conclusion that hundreds of thousands of illegal weapons rest in the hands of law enforcement officers and that those weapons aren't registered.

    English described the federal charges as a "witch hunt" against Williams, a man he said was a "hero" and model law enforcement officer.

    Williams is scheduled to appear Dec. 15 in 9th Judicial District Court in Alexandria where he has pleaded not guilty to state malfeasance charges. The charges include interfering with criminal prosecution by tampering with drug evidence and not giving the District Attorney's Office at least 117 arrest files.

    English said they are filing a continuance in that case where he and Alexandria Attorney Bridgett Brown plan to represent him as well.

    Boyce Chief Convicted

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    Senior Member Array dnowell's Avatar
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    I'll bet that if he found full auto weapons at somebody else's house he wouldn't be interested in their ignorance of firearms law.

    The laws shouldn't be there in the first place, but it's embarrassing for a police chief to act like he's above the law. It should be pretty clear that full auto weapons from the evidence room need - at least - to be brought back to legitimacy before they can be used.

    And - used for community outreach - from his house? Come on! Sounds to me like he brought evidence guns home as toys and now he's playing dumb.

    Don't get me wrong -- he should be able to own whatever guns he wants -- but being police chief shouldn't put him above the law.

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    Senior Member Array PaulJ's Avatar
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    Ignorance of the law should never be a defense, in particular not for a police chief. And of course the police chief has to obey same laws. The real question is if the law makes sense. But this trial was just about figuring out if the police chief violated them.
    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. (Thomas Jefferson)

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    To my mind, based on the tiny bit above, this was either an overzealous prosecution and vendetta, or the guy did something else they just couldn't find enough proof of, and this is what they could get him for.

    If his story is true, that he only had these in his possession because he was doing some sort of outreach, well--- yeah, technically he violated the law; but nowadays a person can hardly turn around in their own backyard without violating something; the latest tree protection statute, whatever.

    If the guy had these for some "unkosher" purpose, I sure wonder what it was that they thought he planned to do. Sell them? Go on a rampage? Give them to drug gang members? (I do think if they were illegally removed from an evidence room, there needs to be some punishment, just not maybe 30 years if all he was doing was using them for a demo.)

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    Senior Member Array PaulJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    If the guy had these for some "unkosher" purpose, I sure wonder what it was that they thought he planned to do. Sell them? Go on a rampage? Give them to drug gang members? (I do think if they were illegally removed from an evidence room, there needs to be some punishment, just not maybe 30 years if all he was doing was using them for a demo.)
    They mention that the guns were found during a raid in which the narcotics dept. took past, and that tampering with narcotics charges are pending. Maybe he sold some drugs confiscated as evidence on the side?
    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. (Thomas Jefferson)

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    It really should

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulJ View Post
    Ignorance of the law should never be a defense,
    It really should be. There needs to be a change in law and process to make it that way.

    With 10s of thousands of laws on the book at Federal, State, and local levels; and with multiple variations of each by state, one can no longer go by common sense and good will and assume that s/he is safe. And no one can afford to carry around a lawyer.

    People generally know pretty much what the law is in areas they deal with--and therefore perhaps this police chief has no excuse at all--but....

    What we have in this country now is a legal system full of "gotchyahs" and that needs to change.

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    Pretty stupid for a cop, who already has a wide application of where he/she can carry weapons that many average citizens cannot.
    Now he has lost everything.

    Seems to be a lot of stupidity surrounding people with privilege lately.
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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Not even a LEO can have a weapon in his posession that isn't registered to the department and issued out,When I was an LEO we confiscated a converted mac10 and the department registered it with the ATF,every now and then we would bring it out on range day and shoot it.There was an overzealous cop in Tx that confiscated a legal full auto from the registered owner,owner called the ATF and the ATF called the cop and told him if the weapon wasn't returned they would be charging him with illegal posession of a machinegun.The cop couldn't return it quick enough
    "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,"
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    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    This wasn't just a cop, he is a Chief of Police. Huge difference.
    Firearms stored in his personal van unsecured. Never mind being NFA items too.

    More than stupid.
    He gets what he got, which by his actions he asked for.

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

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