Tulsa police officer faces federal charges for lying on firearms application
A Tulsa police officer made an initial appearance today in federal court for conspiring to make a false statement to a firearms dealer when purchasing a firearm. Officer Latoya Lisa Dythe, 26, and Devon Jamyll Jones, 27, both of Tulsa, were indicted this week for conspiracy to make a false statement to a firearms dealer and for false statement to a firearms dealer.
Dythe lied on the required Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473, specifically where the form asks the buyer if they are purchasing the firearm for themselves. The form then states “Warning: You are not the actual transferee/buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person. If you are not the actual transferee/buyer, the licensee cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you.”
Dythe marked that she was purchasing the gun for herself, but instead was purchasing the firearm for Jones. Jones is also currently in custody facing state charges.
U.S. Attorney Trent Shores, Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin and FBI Special Agent in Charge Melissa Godbold of the Oklahoma City Field Office made the announcement at a press conference today at Tulsa Police Department Headquarters.
“Police officers are entrusted with enforcing the law to make our city safer. When a police officer breaks the law, however, it does great damage to the public’s trust. This prosecution involves an allegation that an officer, Latoya Dythe, engaged in criminal conduct by facilitating a “lie and buy” transaction as a straw purchaser,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.
“In October, Chief Franklin and I launched the 2150 initiative, making a public pledge to investigate and prosecute these types of gun cases because they often lead to violent acts. In this case, Chief Franklin and his Department brought this case to federal agents and prosecutors and worked in partnership with my office as this investigation moved forward.”
“Our system of justice is based on the cornerstones of trust and accountability,” said Melissa Godbold, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Oklahoma City Field Office. “It’s the trust that the community has in law enforcement – to do the right thing, in the right way, all day, every day. Without that trust, we have nothing.”
“Investigators within the Tulsa Police Department Crime Gun Unit received this case and immediately began working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. We have worked in partnership with the United States Attorney’s Office throughout the duration of this investigation and will continue to do so as this process moves forward.
When the actions of an employee of the Tulsa Police Department bring ill repute to the Department, it tarnishes the good work done by the hundreds of other officers who wear the badge with honor.”
As part of the conspiracy, Dythe and Jones are alleged to have knowingly made false statements and representations to an employee of the Bass Pro Shop, a federally licensed firearms dealer, when Dythe allegedly lied on the ATF Form 4473.
On April 11, 2020, the defendants approached a Bass Pro Shop employee. Dythe asked to handle the FN Herstal handgun. The employee asked Dythe if she was purchasing the handgun for herself rather than for Jones. She used her position of authority and replied that she was a Tulsa Police officer and knew the law.
Dythe filled out and signed the required ATF FORM 4473, indicating the firearm was being purchased for her. She then paid for the firearm using cash provided by Jones.
Dythe gave Jones the firearm once the two were in the establishment’s parking lot.
Count 1 and Count 2 of the indictment each carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, three years of supervised release and a fine not to exceed $250,000.
The FBI conducted is the investigative agency. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Snow is prosecuting the case.