A convicted felon with a long criminal history faces sentencing Wednesday for breaking into self-storage units throughout Los Angeles County and stealing dozens of firearms, some of which were sold to convicted felons.
Rick Herst, 36, of Reseda, pleaded guilty last year to federal counts of conspiracy to traffic in firearms and selling firearms to a convicted felon.
Herst engaged in the scheme while released on bond and facing felony charges for “beating a man with a baseball bat,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors are asking that Herst be sentenced to a dozen years behind bars. The defense position is filed under seal.
“The harm defendant caused is not just the theft and resale of these deadly weapons; the gravity of offense is who he knowingly sold the weapons to — criminals,” the government’s sentencing memorandum says. “Although many guns have not been recovered, those that have were largely found in the hands of felons or recovered at crime scenes.”
Herst was charged two years ago along with Jeffrey James LaFraniere, 39, of the San Fernando Valley, and Alan Elperin, 31, of Mission Hills.
Federal prosecutors said 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 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 prosecutors.
For example, the men burglarized a self-storage facility in Valencia and stole 35 firearms, including multiple .45-caliber pistols, 12-gauge shotguns, and high-powered rifles. On the same day, LaFraniere and Herst sold two of the stolen firearms — a .45-caliber pistol and a .40-caliber pistol — to a buyer, papers filed in Los Angeles federal court show.
In total, the defendants stole 47 firearms, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors wrote that for the past two decades, Herst “has victimized countless people through a crime spree that resulted in 18 convictions,” including 13 felonies — the last two being convictions in the current case.
Elperin pleaded guilty to two counts and was sentenced last year to 100 months in prison. LaFraniere also pleaded guilty in the case and is awaiting sentencing.