Police are calling it one of the largest weapons seizures in Ohio’s history, and it was carried out in the small town of New Philadelphia.
Officers on Nov. 16 confiscated 76 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition from outside of an apartment building – all of them allegedly stolen from an elderly man in ill health.
According to police, the suspect, a convicted felon, was in the process of selling the guns without the owner’s knowledge. Due to his failing health, the elderly owner of the guns granted Power of Attorney to the suspect, reported News 5, a Cleveland ABC affiliate.
The weapons’ cache included guns in an array of sizes, shapes and calibers, from handguns to AR-15 type rifles, some with scopes, and could have sold for tens of thousands of dollars on the black market.
Police still have not released the identity of the 73-year-old ex-convict identified as the suspect but said he has an extensive criminal record, including multiple felony convictions, and is registered as a Tier II sex offender, authorities said.
The gun owner’s family contacted New Philadelphia Police to alert them that they believed their loved one was being taken advantage of and an investigation was launched. The investigation revealed the suspect’s criminal history, which police said prohibits him from using, possessing or being in control of any fire arm.
Police say the owner of the firearms believed the suspect was a friend and that he had approached him to be his power of attorney only to help with his bills and help care for his cats. The owner reportedly told police that he never gave the suspect his guns, nor did he ever suspect that he was interested in his firearm collection.
The suspect faces felony charges at the state and federal level for possession of the firearms, and could face numerous felony charges for their possession, which is unlawful both by federal and state law, according to police.
The New Philadelphia Police Department has sent the full report to the Tuscarawas County Prosecutor’s Office for review.
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Anthony Accardi is a writer and reporter for The Ohio Star.
Image of Weapons by New Philadelphia Police.