An Oregon Deputy Steals and Sells a Dead Man's Guns

Sean Thomas Banks assured the family he was taking them for "safekeeping."



An Oregon sheriff's deputy is accused of taking a dead man's guns and selling them.

In October 2015, a woman contacted the Marion County Sheriff's Office following the death of her father, Steven Heater. Heater had several guns in his home, and his daughter wanted them secured. Sean Thomas Banks, who had been hired as a deputy in 2013, was sent in to assist. But police say he did more than that.

The Salem Statesman Journal reports that Banks told Heater's daughter he would take the guns "for safekeeping." But he did not give her a property sheet or a receipt for the guns, which were valued at $2,930. This is when police say Banks' definition of "safekeeping" shifted:

According to police, he went on to sell and consign five of the shotguns, including a Remington 1100 shotgun, a Weatherby Orion 12-gauge shotgun, a Beretta 12-gauge shotgun, a Browning A5 20-gauge shotgun and a Winchester Model 23 XTR shotgun, at Tick Licker Firearms in Salem and Rich's Gun Shop in Donald.

In July, Oregon Live reports, Salem police investigated Banks for forging a check. In the course of that investigation, police found a "suspicious firearms transaction" tied to Banks. The investigation was expanded, and additional transactions were discovered. On July 12, the deputy was placed on administrative leave.

Marion County Sheriff Jason Myers' office reportedly became aware that the Salem police were investigating Banks in March. Banks was arrested last Thursday and charged with five counts of first-degree theft and one count of official misconduct. Although he initially denied the charges, he eventually admitted that he stole the guns and sold them.