Former Bolivar cop, gun shop owner indicted in alleged ammo purchase scheme

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A recent development in Tuscarawas County has unveiled a legal entanglement involving a former Bolivar police officer and the owner of a local Strasburg gun shop. The indictment is linked to an alleged ammunition purchase scheme. The charges were formally announced by Auditor of State Keith Faber.

Former Bolivar police officer Jeffery Stearns and Grant Timberlake, the owner of G&R Tactical, now find themselves facing multiple felony charges. These charges include unlawful transfer of weapons, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft, telecommunications fraud, falsification in a theft offense, and complicity. The charges stem from a series of events that have been under investigation.

The investigation was initiated in February 2022 by the Auditor of State’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) following a tip-off about irregularities in the purchase of ammunition. This tip alleged that an officer was misusing Bolivar’s tax-exempt status and law enforcement discounts to procure ammunition.

The SIU’s extensive inquiry has since shed light on a complex web of actions. The investigation found that during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, when ammunition was in high demand and short supply due to private sales restrictions, Stearns purportedly manipulated documents to facilitate an ammunition purchase. This purchase was ostensibly intended for the Bolivar Police Department’s use.

However, the investigation revealed that the purchased ammunition never reached the hands of Bolivar law enforcement. Instead, the ammunition was allegedly intercepted by Timberlake, owner of G&R Tactical. The Bolivar Police Department remained oblivious to these transactions, and its officers were left without the anticipated ammunition resources.

Auditor Keith Faber expressed concerns over the implications of this alleged scheme. He highlighted that Stearns currently serves as a police officer in the Village of Sugarcreek, raising questions about his conduct and its impact on law enforcement integrity.

The legal proceedings are already in motion, with arraignments scheduled for September 20th.