A Reseda man faces trial May 19 on federal charges alleging he and two others broke into self-storage units in Los Angeles County, stole dozens of firearms and sold at least some of the weapons to convicted felons.
Rick Eric “Loyal” Herst, 34, was arrested Monday by special agents with the FBI and deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, pursuant to an eight-count indictment unsealed at his arraignment in Los Angeles federal court, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Herst is named in the indictment along with Jeffrey James LaFraniere, 37, of the San Fernando Valley, and Alan Elperin, 29, of Mission Hills, both of whom were arrested by local law enforcement in June on separate cases and are now in federal custody, federal prosecutors said.
All three defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of dealing firearms without a license, and two counts of selling stolen firearms. In addition, LaFraniere and Herst face charges of selling firearms to convicted felons, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
If convicted of all charges, LaFraniere and Herst would face up to 60 years in federal prison, and Elperin would face up to 30 years, prosecutors said. Trial dates were not set for LaFraniere and Herst.
The indictment alleges that from December 2018 to September 2019, LaFraniere, Herst and Elperin burglarized multiple self-storage units in Glendale, Valencia, Culver City, West Los Angeles and elsewhere, where they stole firearms and other valuables.
The men allegedly offered the stolen firearms for sale to customers either in person or via text message. LaFraniere and Herst sold the firearms to buyers they knew were convicted felons, according to the indictment.
For example, on May 30, the men allegedly burglarized a self-storage facility in Valencia and stole 35 firearms, including multiple .45-caliber pistols, 12-gauge shotguns, and high-powered rifles, the indictment alleges.
On the same day as the Valencia burglary, LaFraniere and Herst sold two of the stolen firearms — a .45-caliber pistol and a .40-caliber pistol — to a buyer, federal prosecutors allege.
In total, the defendants allegedly stole 47 firearms, according to the indictment.
LaFraniere has multiple felony convictions in Los Angeles Superior Court between July 2007 and August 2016 for offenses such as burglary, identity theft and possession of methamphetamine for sale, according to the indictment. Herst’s criminal history includes two felony convictions in Superior Court in 2009 for vehicle theft, the indictment states.
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