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State Auditor: Former Bolivar officer, gun shop owner indicted for ammunition ‘scheme’

| August 22, 2023

COLUMBUS – The State Auditor’s office Monday announced the grand jury indictments of a former Bolivar police officer and the owner of a Strasburg gun shop related to what a press release described as an alleged scheme involving the purchase and resale of ammunition.

State Auditor Keith Faber in a press release said former Bolivar Officer Jeffery Stearns and G & R Tactical owner Grant Timberlake face felony counts of unlawful transfer of weapons, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft, telecommunications fraud, falsification in a theft offense, and complicity.

Arraignments are scheduled in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Sept. 20.

The Auditor of State’s Special Investigative Unit started an investigation in February 2022, according to the press release.

It says investigators determined that, during the coronavirus pandemic, when the private sale of ammunition was scarce, Stearns falsified documents to complete the ammunition purchase, allegedly for use by the Bolivar Police Department.

The rounds, however, were allegedly picked up by Timberlake and resold, and the Bolivar Department had no knowledge of the transactions and received no ammunition for use by its officers, according to the press release.

Stearns more recently has been an officer with the Sugarcreek Police Department. Sugarcreek Police Chief Kevin Kaser says his department was not made aware of any investigation or of these allegations when he hired him back in June 2022.

He says Stearns’ background check came up clean at the time. Kaser says Stearns is on non-paid administrative leave.

Kaser says none of the alleged crimes occurred when Stearns was employed with the village of Sugarcreek.

Bolivar Police Chief Randall Haugh referred questions to the special investigator for the State Auditor’s Office.

The auditor’s office said it had no additional comment.

Messages left with G & R Tactical were not immediately returned.

Attorney information for the involved parties was not immediately available.

Press release from Ohio Auditor of State Keith Faber

For Immediate Release:                                                          

Aug. 21, 2023

Former Bolivar Police Officer, Gun Shop Owner Indicted in Tuscarawas County in Scheme to Purchase and Resell Ammunition

COLUMBUS – The Tuscarawas County Grand Jury has returned indictments against a former Bolivar police officer and the owner of a Strasburg gun shop, related to an alleged scheme involving the purchase of ammunition, Auditor of State Keith Faber announced.

Officer Jeffery Stearns, who currently works as an officer in the Village of Sugarcreek, and G&R Tactical owner Grant Timberlake both face felony counts of unlawful transfer of weapons, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft, telecommunications fraud, falsification in a theft offense, and complicity. Stearns also faces an additional felony count of tampering with records and a misdemeanor count of representation by a public official.

The indictments were filed in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court. Arraignments are scheduled for Sept. 20.

The Auditor of State’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) launched an investigation in February 2022 after receiving information about a deputy using the Bolivar’s tax-exempt status and law enforcement discounts to purchase ammunition.

SIU determined that, during the coronavirus pandemic, when the private sale of ammunition was scarce, Stearns falsified documents to complete the ammunition purchase, allegedly for use by the Bolivar Police Department. The rounds, however, were picked up by Timberlake and resold, and the Bolivar department had no knowledge of the transactions and received no ammunition for use by its officers.

Since 2019, the Special Investigations Unit has assisted in 115 convictions resulting in more than $8.2 million in restitution (see Map of SIU Convictions since January 2019). The team receives hundreds of tips of suspected fraud annually. Tips can be submitted anonymously online or via SIU’s fraud hotline at 866-FRAUD-OH (866-372-8364).

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The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Keith Faber, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies, and promotes transparency in government.

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