Former Bolivar police officer, gun shop owner indicted in Tuscarawas County for alleged scheme to purchase ammunition

A 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 additional felony counts of tampering with records and money laundering 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 an officer using 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 allegedly 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 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. 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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