No jail but big fine for Alberta store owner convicted of illegal gun sales

At the conclusion of Monday’s hearing, the Crown stayed the remainder of the charges against the father

The owner of a southern Alberta hardware store who admitted to selling guns and ammunition to people who did not provide a valid firearms acquisition licence has been given a conditional sentence and fined $20,000.

Dean Dan Sommerfeldt, the 60-year-old president of K & D Implements Ltd. in Cardston, was sentenced on Monday in Lethbridge after pleading guilty in September to four charges.

Sommerfeldt and his 33-year old son, Todd, originally faced 19 counts that were laid in 2017 after undercover police officers bought guns and ammunition from the store as part of a firearms trafficking investigation.

The senior Sommerfeldt pleaded guilty to three counts of transferring weapons or ammunition without authority, and one of contravening the Firearms Act related to the storage, handling and display of firearms.

At the conclusion of Monday’s hearing, the Crown stayed the remainder of the charges against the father.

All charges against his son were also stayed, although he has been prohibited from owning or possessing any firearms for the next four years.

Court heard that police seized more than 1,000 guns, a million rounds of ammunition, thousands of firearm primers, gunpowder and other material used in making bullets.

In April 2017, an undercover police officer paid Sommerfeldt $90 for 1,000 rounds of ammunition and was not asked to provide a valid purchase and acquisition licence, known simply as a PAL, or any other form of identification. Gun buyers in Canada must have a PAL before firearms and ammunition can be acquired.

On another date, the officer bought two shotguns and at no time was asked for the licence or other ID.

A second undercover officer purchased a rifle with a PAL made out to a different name. He told Sommerfeldt it was his friend’s PAL and the sale was completed.

Officers also noted there were firearms displayed that were not locked and had chains dangling from the trigger guards within easy reach of customers. They also noted handguns without trigger locks were being kept in an unlocked display case.

The Crown had sought a one-year jail term followed by several conditions. The prosecutor argued that anything less than actual custody would fail to dissuade other dealers from doing the same thing.

In passing sentence, Justice Dallas Miller said although Sommerfeldt displayed exemplary behaviour in the community, including a 35 years as a Scouts leader, he “outright broke the law.”

The judge said the offences could have had catastrophic consequences if the guns and ammunition had ended up in the wrong hands.

Sommerfeldt faces a curfew and several restrictions on activities outside his home, including not leaving the province or visiting his recreational property.

He is also prohibited from owning any firearms for five years and must forfeit any goods seized by police during their investigation, including the items sold to the undercover officers.

Most of the guns, ammunition and other material seized have since been returned to the accused through a third party and will be sold by consignment at a Lethbridge gun store.

Sommerfeldt did not comment outside court but his lawyer, Frank Llewellyn, said he feels the ends of justice have been met.

“We’re quite happy the matter has been resolved. This family has undergone a terrible ordeal and they are glad it’s at an end,” he said. (LethbridgeNewsNOW, CTV Lethbridge)

The Canadian Press

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