Meridian man sentenced to federal prison for dealing firearms at Treasure Valley gun shows

Posted at 5:29 PM, Aug 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-15 19:29:05-04

Steven Clyne, 70, of Meridian, was sentenced Monday to two years and three months in federal prison for dealing over 300 guns without a license -- and making false statements when purchasing guns, according to Acting United States Attorney Rafael Gonzalez.

Clyne was convicted by a federal jury at trial in March of this year.

“Clyne violated federal law by engaging in the business of dealing guns without a license, and without following requirements such as conducting background checks,” said a news release from Gonzalez’ office. 

“Ultimately, some firearms that Clyne sold ended up at crime scenes and in the hands of dangerous criminals in Idaho, California, and other locations,” it added.

According to evidence presented at trial, Clyne purchased hundreds of firearms from licensed gun dealers -- and then resold those same guns to others for an increased price at area gun shows from January, 2013 to November 12, 2015, prosecutors said. 

“Each time Clyne purchased the firearms from local gun stores, he completed paperwork certifying that he was the actual buyer of the firearms. Each form also specifically notified Clyne that ‘the repetitive purchase of firearms for the purpose of resale for livelihood and profit without a Federal firearms license is a violation of Federal law.”’ The federal jury that found Clyne guilty concluded that he willfully committed the crime knowing that his conduct was unlawful,” the release pointed out.

After learning that guns purchased by Clyne were found at numerous crimes scenes, federal ATF agents began an investigation. During the investigation, undercover agents say they bought “numerous firearms” from Clyne at Treasure Valley gun shows. 

On one occasion, an agent telephoned Clyne and asked to purchase two handguns.  Clyne agreed to sell the handguns, and told the agent he would purchase the handguns later that same day.  When Clyne purchased the handguns from the licensed firearm dealer, he falsely stated that he was the actual buyer of the handguns knowing that he was actually acquiring the handguns on behalf of another person, the release explained.

On November 12, 2015, ATF agents armed with a federal search warrant searched Clyne’s home. Agents found about 30 guns and other items showing Clyne was selling firearms for “livelihood and profit.” Clyne admitted to agents that he purchased firearms, increased the prices, and then resold the weapons.

At sentencing, the government presented evidence that at least ten guns sold by Clyne were later recovered at crimes scenes or in the hands of dangerous criminals. 

Police in Modesto, California, found one of the guns at the scene of a murder. The man in possession of the gun was murdered during a botched drug deal.

Another gun initially purchased and then resold by Clyne was found in Los Angeles, in the possession of a registered sex offender. Police recovered the gun along with child pornography and components used to make a destructive device. 

Police recovered at least three other firearms linked to Clyne in California -- and another was found in Phoenix, Arizona.  Other firearms purchased by Clyne were recovered in Idaho, including two found in Nampa and another near Twin Falls.  Those firearms were recovered from convicted felons who were also trafficking methamphetamine.

During sentencing, Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill found that some 300 guns were involved in the transactions –and that the number was “probably closer to 400,” reports said.

Winmill also concluded that Clyne had not accepted responsibility. In announcing his sentence, Winmill took into account Clyne’s age and his current health conditions. The conditions were not disclosed.

“In his pursuit of money, Steven Clyne willfully disregarded federal law knowing that certain people would pay a premium for not having to complete paperwork and a background check,” said Gonzalez. “This case is an unfortunate example of what happens when someone violates those federal firearms laws.”  

“Mr. Clyne's willingness to operate outside the law, directly put his fellow Americans at risk,” said Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Darek Pleasants.

Clyne will self-surrender to the Bureau of Prisons when notified to do so.