Ex-Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey acquitted in gun case - Omaha.com
Published Friday, February 22, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 11:31 am
Ex-Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey acquitted in gun case

A yearlong saga that began in a restaurant parking lot ended in a courtroom Thursday when former Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey was acquitted of a misdemeanor charge of transferring a firearm without a certificate.

It was at a Village Inn in Bellevue where then-Gretna City Administrator Colleen Lawry told Stacey she was worried about her safety. He lent her two guns so she could see how they felt before she purchased her own, Stacey testified.

But prosecutors said he erred because he didn't check whether she had obtained a certificate that allows a person to acquire a handgun in Nebraska.

Stacey said he didn't believe that the certificate was necessary for the loan of a handgun — only for a sale — and the Sarpy County Court jury agreed.

“This was really, really something simple and ridiculous,” Stacey said of the case.

James Martin Davis, his lawyer, argued that the law applied only to commercial transactions such as selling or leasing a handgun.

After the gun loan last year, Stacey retired from his job and Lawry was fired from hers amid allegations of impropriety.

Lawry was convicted of two misdemeanor counts in connection with her misuse of City of Gretna funds, and she is serving six months in jail. A gun charge against her was dropped as part of a plea deal.

Stacey had been placed on leave as police chief after allegations surfaced that he had made an inappropriate remark to a girl at a fire station.

He was publicly drawn into the Lawry matter when The World-Herald revealed that the pair had taken four overlapping out-of-state business trips to the same places.

The gun trial was the saga's last official chapter.

Prosecutor Nicole Hutter acknowledged that it's unusual to prosecute a former police chief. But she said he shouldn't be exempt from the law because of his position.

“This is not about who Mr. Stacey was,” she said. “It's about what he did.”

Davis accused the prosecutor's office of targeting Stacey.

“What are they trying to accomplish?” he asked. “What message are they trying to send?”

Lawry testified Thursday that she and Stacey met regularly to chat at the Village Inn.

She told him she was worried about her and her daughters' safety. Stacey suggested that she buy a handgun from Cabela's.

“I told her that she needed to obtain a firearm to protect herself,” Stacey said.

Lawry told him she was unfamiliar with guns and would feel uncomfortable about that.

She testified that Stacey, whom Lawry called “a former colleague of mine,” said she could borrow a gun from him.

In two instances, they walked to the restaurant's parking lot and he gave her a paper bag with a handgun and bullets, Lawry said.

She returned the first gun because it was too large and borrowed a smaller one.

“I literally only saw the guns for a matter of seconds before they went under my bed and stayed there,” Lawry said.

The two had no discussion about obtaining a certificate, Lawry said.

Stacey said he issued hundreds of firearm certificates as police chief and did not believe that the law applied to loans of firearms. He thought he was following the law, he said.

“There's nothing in the law about it being illegal to borrow or lend,” Stacey said.

After the verdict was read, Stacey said he was relieved.

“It's good to put it all behind,” he said.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1084, roseann.moring@owh.com

Contact the writer: Roseann Moring

roseann.moring@owh.com    |   402-444-1084    |  

Roseann covers Bellevue and Sarpy County crime.

Oil industry ad campaign mocks Nebraska cowboys who protested Keystone XL pipeline
In Omaha, bus tour calls for hourly minimum wage over $10
Fremont police searching for missing 56-year-old man
Prosecutor: Baby might be alive if day care employer had spoken up
NRA seeks universal gun law at national meeting
Beau McCoy calls Pete Ricketts a 'convenient conservative' for immigration stance
Omaha senator seeks minimum wage ballot measure
Agreement reached to end dog racing at Bluffs Run at end of 2015
Police probe bank robbery
Man accused of trying to open flying plane's door pleads not guilty
Ben Sasse shifts tactics, calls ad by Shane Osborn 'hypocritical'
Forecast on the upswing after Thursday's rain
EB Harney Street lane closed
Ex-UNMC student loses appeal; claimed program didn't make accommodations for his depression
Grace: Your older self has a request — use sunscreen
At NU's helm, J.B. Milliken built the university by building relationships with state leaders
City's Personnel Board is behind ‘ban-the-box’ proposal
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
Richard Paul Dreier, 90, was wounded in attack during WWII
Police issue arrest warrant in teen's shooting death
Kelly: Huskers' glory days of '80s live on — on the small screen and on stage
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Construction to start in May on West Broadway apartment/retail structure
3 Nebraska Board of Education candidates call for high standards
< >
Breaking Brad: 117-mph riding lawnmowers and 12-scoop banana splits
The Chicago White Sox are selling a 12-scoop banana split inside a full-size batting helmet for $17. You know what you'd call someone in Chicago who'd eat this? "Health nut."
Breaking Brad: Walmart beats Russia, stakes a claim on the moon
Russia is claiming it owns a section of the moon. If you follow the news, you know this probably doesn't end well.
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
The idea that Paul Hogan had studied and then hatched at his mother's table was that older people, rather than moving in with relatives or to an assisted-living center, would much prefer to stay home instead.
Kelly: Huskers' glory days of '80s live on — on the small screen and on stage
The 1984 NFL draft was unusual for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and these days it's remembered in the name of a rock band, the 1984 Draft. Tonight, the band is featured on the NFL Network.
Breaking Brad: Nebraska GOP candidates unified against naked squirrels
Some of these Nebraska campaigns are tilting pretty far right. At a recent forum, there was a consensus that we need to ban public dancing and clothe naked squirrels in public parks.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
7M Grill
Half Off Delicious Comfort Fusion Food & Drinks!
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »