TACOMA – In January, an unlicensed gun dealer in Olympia admitted to an undercover federal agent that he had sold the gun used to kill Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton and wound a cadet riding in Brenton’s patrol car on Halloween in 2009, court papers state.
On Friday, the dealer, David Devenny, 68, appeared in a federal courtroom in Tacoma after his arrest on suspicion of two counts of sales of a firearm to a prohibited person. Each count carries a maximum potential sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
Devenny’s court appearance was the culmination of an investigation by federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents that began in May 2009 – about six months before Brenton’s homicide.
Devenny is not charged with selling the gun used in Brenton’s slaying. Rather, the two counts filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma allege that he illegally sold three other guns in February. A Tukwila man, Christopher Montfort, is charged with aggravated murder in connection with Brenton’s homicide last year.
ATF agents reported recovering 42 guns and $32,000 in cash when they arrested Devenny at his Olympia home Friday.
According to a criminal complaint:
Devenny sold a .40-caliber Glock for $475 and one SKS rifle to an ATF informant Feb. 5. Before the deal was completed, the informant tried to communicate that he was subject to a restraining order; it was in place to prevent him from “harassing, stalking and threatening an intimate partner.” On the same day, Devenny also illegally sold a Wilkinson 9mm pistol despite not having a license to sell firearms, documents say.
Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, referred to Devenny’s criminal complaint when asked why he doesn’t face a criminal charge for selling the firearm used to kill Brenton. In the criminal complaint, Devenny says he does not know to whom he sold the gun that killed Brenton.
According to the criminal complaint:
During a conversation with an undercover ATF agent at Devenny’s home in January, he “admitted that he was the one that sold the gun that ‘killed that cop and wounded – that lady cop,’ referring to the murder of Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton.”
Devenny also told the agent “that he could not say to whom he sold it but that he sold it to somebody at the Puyallup gun show. Devenny explained that he had been contacted by the Seattle Police Department, who had traced the gun to the original owner and then to Devenny. Devenny further stated that he did not know to whom he sold the gun because he did not keep records.”
ATF special agent Cheryl Bishop confirmed Friday that Montfort, the man who faces murder charges, would not have been prohibited from purchasing a gun from a licensed dealer. She said many people who purchase firearms to commit a crime use illegal gun dealers because there is no paper trail.
According to the complaint:
An ATF agent began investigating Devenny in May 2009, when the agent received a “multiple sales” report that Devenny had recently purchased nine handguns from one federal firearms licensee in Tacoma. According to the report, Devenny had purchased 16 firearms over a five-month period in 2009.
When Devenny bought guns from the federal firearms licensee, he signed a form stating, “I further understand that the repetitive purchase of firearms for the purpose of resale for livelihood and profit without a Federal firearms license is a violation of the law.”
In 2007, the ATF agent had investigated a Canadian who bought multiple firearms from Devenny at gun shows.
According to ATF’s investigation:
Devenny went by the nickname “Handlebar Dave” and displayed a blasé attitude about whom he sold guns to and whether those people might have a criminal record.
In January, an undercover agent told Devenny he had a friend “who wanted to buy a gun but was not able because he had a fight with his wife and indicated that he had a domestic violence conviction.” The agent said his friend went to a gun store, but the dealer told him “he should get a bow and arrow or a black powder gun.”
Devenny interjected that the agent’s friend could “buy it from somebody like me that don’t give a (expletive).”
Devenny later elaborated, “What I don’t know, I don’t care about. Uh, I don’t want somebody coming down here on their own it’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ If I don’t know, then there’s nothing wrong with it.”
On Feb. 5, the ATF informant who’d told Devenny that he had a restraining order in place attempted to tell Devenny that he’d “got into some trouble” before purchasing the Glock. Devenny cut him off and said, “I don’t want to hear about it, I am not supposed to know about it, and I don’t ask that question. Just as long as you forget where it (the firearm) came from.”
On Nov. 15, an undercover ATF agent and a confidential informant with a felony record went to Devenny’s home and purchased two firearms for $850. The sales of these firearms were not charged as crimes in Devenny’s criminal complaint. The agent told Devenny that the informant had two felony convictions.
Devenny had told an undercover ATF agent that he makes “decent” money selling guns, and had been in the trade for about seven years.
Devenny is being held in federal custody until his detention hearing, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.
His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 3.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465 firstname.lastname@example.org