Officials will return Fruitvale man’s guns

Local law enforcement is expected to return the more than 150 guns seized from a local businessman’s home and office to their owner this morning.

Bill Martin, whose home and business at 518 30 Road were raided in mid-November, said law enforcement plans to turn the guns over to his family at 10 a.m at the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department.

Officers and SWAT team members from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department raided Martin’s property after police received a tip he was a felon in possession of a cache of weapons.

Since then, law enforcement’s felon-in-possession case against Martin has passed between local and federal prosecutors, who both decided earlier this year not to pursue cases.

Martin said he is glad to get his guns back, but he questions how the sheriff’s department proposed giving them back.

According to e-mails exchanged between Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein and Martin’s attorney, Colleen Scissors, law enforcement asked that the weapons transfer take place in a “very discreet” fashion.

Martin said he has paid little heed to law enforcement’s request for a quiet event, given how the news media was allowed to photograph the sheriff’s department’s SWAT team raid in November.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said law enforcement made the request for a discreet event because officials planned to release the guns from the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives evidence vault.

“If it was going to be released from there, it would be a secret location,” he said.

Nonetheless, Martin said he also takes the return of the weapons as the sheriff’s department’s admission of a mistake.

“I think they’re admitting they’re wrong, because they’re giving the guns back,” Martin said. “I haven’t been charged.”

Heather Benjamin, spokeswoman for the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, declined to comment on the case Monday, except to say the firearms will be returned to Martin’s family.


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