New Philadelphia Police seized more than 76 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammo that were being loaded into a truck outside of a West High Avenue apartment building. (Submitted photo)
New Philadelphia, Ohio - New Philadelphia Police are expecting numerous felony charges to be filed against a 76-year-old with an extensive criminal history that they say orchestrated a power-of-attorney scheme to obtain and sell another man’s firearm collection.
Police say that on November 14th, they received a call about an individual removing items from a West High apartment while the tenant was being treated at the hospital.
Officer Kurt Olson says he responded to the scene and observed a man loading boxes that appeared to contain firearms into a truck that was backed up to the building.
“When I went by, I saw there was a gentleman that looked like he was loading boxes into the back of the truck, and just from past experience, it looked like rifle boxes. I knew who that person was, saw that his truck was fictitious, his plates were, knew that he was suspended, ran his criminal history, saw that he had multiple felonies,” he explains.
Olson says officers approached the man, who is a registered Tier II sex offender with multiple felony conviction, and found him to be in possession of more than 76 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
“Some of them were loaded. There was actually one in the front that had one in the chamber,” he says.
Olson says the suspect had previously convinced the owner of the firearms to appoint him as his power of attorney. He says that the man’s family found out about the agreement and reported the matter to the department.
“He had created a power of attorney with someone he had met roughly eight months ago, and I don’t know all the ins and outs on it, but originally it was put together because he was claiming to help with [the man’s] cats and mail and just neighborly stuff and used this power of attorney to take serious advantage of this person while he was in and out of the hospital,” he explains.
The owner of the firearms was contacted and told police that he was unaware of the man's intentions and had never given him permission to take the firearms
A copy of the report has been sent to the Tuscarawas County Prosecutor for review, and the suspect's name is being withheld pending formal charges. Olson says he expects the man will be charged with multiple felonies.
“He was arrested and brought to the station and is looking at multiple felony charges for being in possession of and mishandling these guns, plus thousands upon thousands of rounds of ammunition,” he says.
Due to his criminal history, it is unlawful for the suspect to use, possess or have control of any firearm.
New Philadelphia Police Sgt. Paul Rossi says the gun seizure was of the largest in Ohio in recent history. Due to the nature of the incident, he's advising residents to consult with a qualified attorney prior to appointing someone as power of attorney over their assets.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV