Assistant U. S. Attorneys Nicholas Pilchak (619) 546-9709 or Andrew Haden (619) 546-6961
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – March 12, 2021
SAN DIEGO – Former San Diego County Sheriff’s Captain Marco Garmo was sentenced to two years in prison today for years of unlawful firearms transactions and for an array of corrupt conduct relating to unlicensed marijuana dispensaries operating in his former jurisdiction.
In pronouncing sentence, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel said that Garmo’s conduct demonstrated arrogance reaching a level where Garmo was “almost becoming a mob boss of sorts” in picking winners and losers and dispensing unlawful favors to friends and family.
Garmo admitted in pleading guilty in September that he had acted as an unlicensed firearm dealer, buying almost 150 weapons and re-selling almost 100 over a period of roughly six years. A number of those transactions involved “straw purchases,” where Garmo acquired firearms for others by falsely claiming that they were for him. This was an important part of Garmo’s firearms dealing because California law limits the initial purchase of certain newer handguns to law enforcement officers only.
In his plea agreement, Garmo admitted that one of his goals in selling so many guns was profit, but another was to curry favor with prominent county residents whom he expected might support his planned run for Sheriff of San Diego County.
Garmo also acknowledged tipping off an illegal marijuana dispensary that he believed was about to be searched by Sheriff’s deputies, in order to give an advance warning to his cousin, who was one of the dispensary’s owners. The unlawful cannabis operation cleared its shelves of cash and valuable products the same night it received Garmo’s warning. And once the dispensary had reopened—after receiving the all-clear from Garmo the following morning—Garmo’s cousin sought his help again weeks later, after