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Former Jefferson policeman pleads not guilty to weapons charges

Thomas indicted by a grand jury, faces federal and state charges

POSTED: December 28, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A former Jefferson police captain pleaded not guilty Friday to federal weapons charges.

Dennis Lamar Thomas, 49, was indicted by a grand jury this week on charges of possessing a .38-caliber handgun while using an illegal controlled substance and possessing an unregistered hand grenade.

On Friday, marshals led a handcuffed Thomas into U.S. District Court for an initial appearance in front of Magistrate Judge Susan Cole.

Thomas, who was fired from the Jefferson Police Department in 2007, remains in the Jackson County jail following his arrest on state charges in October. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Gabay-Smith said prosecutors would seek to keep Thomas in custody if he made bond on the state charges.
Thomas told Cole he could not afford an attorney and asked for representation by a court-appointed lawyer.

According to Gabay-Smith, on Oct. 7 while in Jackson County, Thomas violated a temporary protective order taken out by his wife. Responding authorities found a crack pipe, crack cocaine and a pistol on him, she said.

A later search of his car turned up destructive devices in a Jefferson Police Department bag, including one live grenade and several other grenade casings, Gabay-Smith said. The grenades were not registered with the National Firearm Registration and Transfer Record, as required by federal law.

"This case is troubling and the allegations are serious," federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Gregory Grant said in a statement. "Our job is to ensure public safety, and to prevent violent crime and tragedy before it occurs. Drugs, guns and explosives don't mix."

U.S. Attorney David Nahmias called it a "sad case" for a former law enforcement officer, adding that hand grenades have "no legitimate civilian purpose."

Thomas also faces state drug and weapons charges.

Thomas was investigated during a probe of the Jefferson Police Department under former police chief Darren Glenn in 2006 and 2007 but was never indicted.



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