By Shurtz, Delon on December 10, 2019.
A Cardston businessman who pleaded guilty in September to several firearms-related offences in 2017 will be allowed to serve his jail sentence in his home.
Dean Dan Sommerfeldt was sentenced Monday in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench to a 13-month conditional sentence, all of which he will have to spend under house arrest.
Although defence lawyers Frank Llewelleyn of Lethbridge and Edward Burlew of Ontario had recommended a conditional sentence, Crown prosecutors Bruce Ainscough and Tom Brannen asked for one year in jail.
“The general deterrence has to be strong,” Ainscough told Justice D.K. Miller.
Court was told during the September hearing police were notified in the fall of 2016 that employees of K&D Implements in Cardston were selling ammunition without ensuring the purchaser had a PAL, the possession and acquisition licence.
In early 2017, NWEST, the National Weapons Enforcement Support Team, received information from several sources that Sommerfeldt, the store owner, was selling firearms without ensuring customers had their licence. In February ALERT, the Lethbridge Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team, CFSEU, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, and NWEST began a joint investigation and two undercover officers were assigned to investigate.
The two officers conducted 12 undercover operations in which they pretended to be customers and were able to purchase guns and ammunition. On April 22, 2017, one of the undercover officers purchased a 20-gauge shotgun and a .410 shotgun, as well as shells for each gun, but was not required to prove he was authorized to buy them.
“At no time did the accused ask to see a PAL, did not ask if he had one and did not ask if he had any other form of identification,” Ainscough said.
During the officers’ visits to the store, they also saw other customers buy ammunition without showing a PAL, and noticed firearms and ammunition not properly secured or displayed.
On May 29, 2017, police raided the store and seized 1,089 firearms, one million rounds of ammunition, and documents relating to the transfer of firearms and ammunition. At that time officers also noticed unlocked and unlawfully displayed restricted and non-restricted firearms.
Sommerfeldt and his son, Todd Dean Sommerfeldt, who was also charged, were both scheduled for a three-week trial before the father pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawfully transferring firearms and ammunition and one count of contravening the Firearms Act relating to the storage, handling, transportation, shipping, display, advertising or mail-order sales of firearms and restricted weapons.
The Crown stayed the charges against Todd.
Miller noted that while the Crown’s recommendation for a year in jail is not unreasonable, he said a conditional sentence will serve to denounce the offences and deter Sommerfeldt and others from committing similar crimes. Miller also pointed to Sommerfeldt’s previous good character and some 220 letters of support from members of his community.
Miller added, however, that while the letters expressed shock and disbelief, they were written before Sommerfeldt pleaded guilty and admitted the offences.
In addition to house arrest – which include exceptions for shopping, working, performing community service, taking care of family members, and attending church, medical appointments and court – Sommerfeldt was fined $20,000. He must also submit a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Databank, and he is prohibited from possessing weapons for five years.
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