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Ex-cop pleads guilty for role in ammo resale scheme

| February 13, 2024
Jeffrey Stearns, 49, of Port Washington pleads guilty to telecommunications fraud for using the Bolivar Police Department's tax id number to buy and resell ammunition during the COVID-19 pandemic. (WJER Radio)

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Feb. 13, 2024) – A former Bolivar police officer is facing up to 12 months in prison after admitting to his role in an ammunition resale scheme with a Strasburg gun shop owner. 

49-year-old Jeffrey Stearns of Port Washington also loses his Ohio Peace Officer certification after appearing before Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Ernest Tuesday morning and pleading guilty to telecommunications fraud.

“I’m advising you that a conviction to a felony offense to which you are pleading guilty will result in the termination of your employment as a peace officer and in your decertification as a peace officer pursuant to the laws of Ohio.”  

The Ohio Auditor’s Office says Stearns falsified documents to obtain ammunition when it was scarce during the COVID-19 pandemic, using the Bolivar Police Department’s tax-exempt status and discounts to purchase rounds that were picked up and resold by G & R tactical owner Grant Timberlake. A grand jury indicted Stearns on nine counts, including several higher-level felonies, but the state agreed to drop all but the fraud charge in exchange for his guilty plea.

Stearns went on to work for the Sugarcreek Police Department but was placed on unpaid leave during the investigation and resigned back in December. He’s scheduled to return to court to learn his punishment on April 19th. 

Timberlake accepted a similar deal last week and faces up to six months in jail at his sentencing on March 26th.

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