A Slight Diversion 

The sweetheart plea bargain of multiple federal felony offenses for the infamous drug and sex addicted son of the President of the United States is due to be finalized tomorrow. Included are two tax charges and, my topic for today, being placed in a diversion program for lying about his drug use on an ATF Form 4473 when purchasing a firearm. 

On the other side of the scale, the mother of the six-year-old who shot schoolteacher in Virginia was charged with the EXACT SAME offense, lying on a 4473 about her drug use, has reached a felony plea agreement to serve 18-24 months in prison. (More on this horrific incident another time.)

The Rule of Law is in the news a lot these days, as well as how “nobody is above the law” and there is no “two-tiered justice system”. Naturally, it’s all BS as these cases easily demonstrate. It only matters who you are and if you are connected to the correct ideology. 

A little perspective on my opinions here. Early on in my law enforcement career I was given the opportunity to join my county’s court diversion board. This was an exceptional chance to view a part of the justice system most officers never get. The common misconception among officers is court diversion is the easy way out of a criminal charge. My experiences showed that not to be true. 

For this program, only minor/misdemeanor charges were accepted and no charges involving violence. It was only available for first time offenses where there were no other charges pending. And while our program handled juvenile and adult referrals, I don’t recall ever seeing anyone over the age of 21 on cases I was involved with. 

A number of things were required for successful completion of the diversion program. First, and foremost, an in-person acceptace of responsibility for their actions to the board. At that point, the board would impose a set of conditions to complete. Typically included were letters of apology, complete restitution if damages were involved, community service and counseling if warranted. Successful completion meant the charges would be dropped by the prosecutor’s office and no criminal conviction would appear on the person’s record. Note that fines for minor first offences at the time were typically under $200, far less than the effort and expense involved for successful completion of the diversion program. 

Not completing the conditions within the time frame given meant the case went back for prosecution. Today’s metrics for this county diversion board indicate about 75% successfully complete the program. This is consistent with what I recall from my time. 

Now, let’s examine who got the sweetheart deal the President’s son’s attorneys negotiated with the Department of Justice. 

A 53-year-old Yale educated lawyer and “artist” with a penchant for prostitutes and his dead brother’s widow, shady business deals with foreign governments, and a long and self-documented history of drug addiction who lied about his history of drug use, history which includes getting kicked out of the Navy after ONE MONTH for cocaine use, on a 4473. This is a federal felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. This on top of the fact of his two tax related charges, out of what could have been dozens of felony charges for everyone else which are being condensed down to two misdemeanors. 

The fact that someone like this is allowed to enter a diversion program for lying on a 4473 is a slap in the face to everyone who works in the firearm industry.

Federal Firearm Licensees (FFL’s) are responsible for ensuring the 4473 is filled out by the buyer completely and accurately, but they also expected to evaluate the intent of the buyer and deny the sale or transfer of a firearm to anyone who’s motives, condition, or responses indicate deception. 

Around the country, FFL’s are constantly on the lookout for those who they suspect of participating in straw purchases or have lied on a 4473 in areas such as question 21.g., current or prior drug use. Information on people attempting to illegally purchase firearms is routinely turned over to local/state law enforcement as well as the ATF. Yet prosecution is not common. 

In the 2019 fiscal year, when this offense occurred, federal prosecutors received 478 referrals for lying on Form 4473, filing just 298 cases. Keep this lower-priority prosecution in mind when you hear politicians saying they need to enact more gun control laws. 

Meanwhile, FFL’s themselves are under intense, crippling scrutiny by the current administration, having their licenses revoked for minor, unintentional clerical errors as small as misspelling a single non-critical word on the 4473 or any of their ATF forms. 

If not for the “two-tiered justice system”, there is no way in the world anyone with this kind of history and record would be accepted into a diversion program for a federal felony. 

Kinda makes you wonder which tier of the justice system you would wind up, doesn’t it? 

No information is currently available as to what the criminal penalty is for the misdemeanors or conditions for the diversion program are. Somehow, I doubt this is more than a DOJ paperwork shuffle so they can proudly declare the totality of the investigations into the President’s son’s activities is complete, justice has been served, and the case is now closed and sealed forever.



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