Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey and fired Gretna City Administrator Colleen Lawry are each being charged with a misdemeanor after Stacey provided Lawry with a handgun, Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov said Thursday.
Polikov said he was filing formal charges Thursday afternoon in Sarpy County Court.
“It's an appropriate situation to charge both John Stacey and Colleen Lawry on the handgun permit violation,” Polikov said.
“The law requires a person trying to obtain a gun to have a permit and the person transferring the gun to make sure they have a permit. The law is rather simple. You cannot claim, ‘I did not know the law.' That is not a defense.”
Polikov said after reviewing the state law and State Patrol investigators' reports, it was clear a violation had occurred.
“No one should be above the law,” Polikov said. “We are not singling John Stacey out. I don't make decisions based on individuals. I try to make decisions on the facts and circumstances. It's not Lee Polikov vs. John Stacey. It's really the people of the state of Nebraska vs. John Stacey, and I am representing the people of Nebraska.”
The maximum penalty for a Class I misdemeanor is a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Stacey's attorney, James Martin Davis, declined to comment immediately, but he has said Stacey did not violate the law.
“In this case, Chief Stacey simply lent Colleen this firearm. It was not a transfer of ownership. He can lend his gun to anybody he wants,” Davis said earlier this week.
Lawry's attorney, Mike Munch, did not immediately return a request for comment.
The State Patrol began investigating the issue after receiving a tip that Lawry had acquired a handgun without a certificate.
According to state law, a person shall not sell, lease, rent or transfer a handgun to someone who doesn't have a certificate except under certain circumstances.
An investigator seized a .38-caliber Taurus handgun from Lawry's home May 4.
Stacey has acknowledged the gun was his but said he had loaned it to her temporarily.
“Based on the facts of the law, there is a reasonable belief we can prove all the elements of a crime,” Polikov said.
Stacey has been on administrative leave since May 2 while the city investigates an unrelated issue; he allegedly made an inappropriate remark to someone at the fire department April 30.
Lawry was fired earlier this month and charged with felony theft of between $500 and $1,500 for allegedly using money from a Gretna senior citizens fund for personal use.