News Column

Criminal case against Olde West Gun and Loan dismissed

May 9, 2014

By Jim Schultz, Redding Record Searchlight, Calif.

May 09--Criminal charges against a Redding pawnshop accused of selling stolen merchandise were dismissed today in Shasta County Superior Court by the district attorney's office.

Dismissal of the misdemeanor case, which was filed in March 2013 against Olde West Gun and Loan Co., Inc. and three employees, came as their trial was slated to begin next week.

But prosecutors said the case was dismissed due to insufficient evidence.

Redding police have said the three employees, Dale Constance Kosko, Sherri Ann Mansfield and Vivian Sheryl Morris, ignored obvious signs that the merchandise was stolen and failed to take appropriate steps when they accepted $4,000 worth of electronics from one Redding couple.

The trio and business were initially charged with receiving stolen property and failing to require proof of ownership by customers bringing in merchandise for sale.

But Redding defense attorney John Kucera, who represented the trio and the business and who is advising them to consider taking possible civil action, said today his clients did nothing wrong and were in full compliance with the law.

"They did everything they should have done," including sending the purchased items' serial numbers and descriptions about them to police, he said.

He said Olde West followed state law which requires it to obtain the name and current adress of the person selling the property, as well as photo and thumb print identification.

"The whole situation should have never developed," said Olde West Gun and Loan co-owner Dan Mansfield, saying the business and workers were unfairly "persecuted."

"We did everything right," he said today. The whole (criminal case) thing is pretty weird."

Mansfield said his business has been providing daily the serial numbers and other raw data on a computer thumb drive about its purchases to police for years.

It also held onto the items in question, which were never reported stolen, for 30 days as mandated before law before putting them up for sale, he said.

That 30-day hold should have given police plenty of time to review the merchandise to see if any of it was reported stolen, he added.

"It would have been easy on their (police) end to review it," he said, adding he was surprised when police later served a search warrant at the business after working hours on Jan. 24, 2013.

"They threw us under the bus," he said.

Police Sgt. Brian Barner has said Charles Anthony Hall and Sheri Leanne Hall, both of Redding, admitted to police they sold Olde West Gun and Loan the electronics they had stolen from Walmart and Target between November and December 2012.

"They did 18 transactions. These were brand new, still in the box TVs and DVDs," Barner told the Record Searchlight last year. "That's unusual to get brand new items, especially when the same person comes in 18 times."

Barner has said more than half the items were flat-screen televisions still in the box.

Kucera said the Halls told the pawnshop's employees that they got the merchandise after winning auctions of storage units in default.

In March 2012, all pawn shops received a list of measures they must take to ensure they aren't accepting stolen items and must report suspicious sales to police, Barner said, adding that Kosko, Mansfield and Morris didn't notify police of them.

According to electronic Shasta County Superior Court records, Charles and Sheri Hall were both sentenced last year to 180 days in jail on burglary charges.

Although Mansfield admitted that relations between his business and police have been strained since the raid, he said he was hopeful they could again develop a close working relationship.

"We will work toward that goal for sure," he said.

In the meantime, Kucera, who noted that the origins of the electronics were never positively identified nor reported stolen by either Target or Walmart, said he'll be asking the items be returned to Olde West.

"I'm going to be asking for them (police) to give them back," he said.


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Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)

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