A couple accused of illegally manufacturing and modifying rifles to sell out of their Moreno Valley home made their joint initial court appearance Friday after the unsealing of a grand jury indictment containing 70 felony allegations.
Bearl Andrew Leach, 33, and Sarah Anne Leach, 27, were arrested Tuesday after the indictment was handed down based on an investigation by the Inland Empire Joint Terrorism Task Force, composed of Riverside County sheriff’s deputies, FBI agents and law enforcement personnel from multiple police departments in the region.
Each defendant is charged with dozens of counts alleging possession of an assault rifle, manufacturing an assault weapon, possession of a sawed-off shotgun and manufacturing or selling high-capacity magazines for use in unlawful weapons.
The couple appeared before Superior Court Judge Emma Smith, who unsealed the grand jury indictment issued on May 1. Smith appointed Bearl Leach a public defender and appointed a private attorney under contract with the county to Sarah Leach.
The judge scheduled the pair’s arraignment for May 25 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
According to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, the couple came under investigation earlier this year after the sheriff’s department received word that they had been making threats, the nature of which weren’t specified.
The case was assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, whose investigators developed leads indicating there was an illegal gun-making activity in the defendants’ residence near downtown Moreno Valley, prosecutors said.
Search warrants were obtained, and during a raid on the property, “multiple illegal assault weapons were found,” according to a D.A.’s office statement.
“Evidence discovered during the search of the residence led investigators to believe the husband and wife were operating as illegal firearms dealers and were manufacturing and selling assault weapons out of their home,” the agency stated. “Each of the assault weapons seized appeared to be custom designed for the buyer and were unregistered.”
Both defendants are being held in lieu of $2 million bail — Bearl Leach at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta, and his wife at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
Neither has documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.
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