Tulsa, Okla. — A Tulsa police officer pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally buying a gun. Officer Latoya Dythe, who was assigned to the chief’s office as a community resource officer, has been suspended without pay since at least December, when her indictment via a federal grand jury was unsealed according to the Tulsa World.
As part of a plea agreement, the 26-year-old pleaded guilty to conspiracy in making a false statement to a firearms dealer. She remains on bond pending sentencing July 15, and faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment for each count, three years of supervised release and a fine not to exceed $250,000.
The felony charges against Dythe stem from a straw purchase of a firearm for her boyfriend and alleged co-conspirator Devon Jones at the Broken Arrow Bass Pro Shops store in April 2020. The straw purchase of a firearm—or buying a gun for someone who can’t by law or doesn’t want their name associated with the purchase—is a federal crime.
Co-conspirator Jones allegedly picked out a single-action pistol, an FN Herstal FN Five-seveN, which has a manufacturer suggested retail price of about $1,200, and then gave Dythe cash to buy it.
A shop employee asked Dythe whether the gun was for her. She said it was—and “that she was a police officer and knew the law.” Dythe also showed the employee a card that identified her as an officer and signed a form stating that she was purchasing the gun for herself.
However, in the parking lot, Dythe then gave the gun to Jones, who she identified as her boyfriend in a separate state case.
During the investigation, Officer Dythe admitted that she knew her actions were illegal, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
Former U.S. Attorney Trent Shores said Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin notified him of the investigation into the purchase. The Tulsa Police Department’s Crime Gun Unit, which seeks to combat violent crime by focusing efforts on prohibited persons in possession of firearms as well as straw purchasers, uncovered Dythe’s purchase.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Melissa Godbold stated, “The public rightfully expects more from those who have sworn to serve… Latoya Dythe’s actions violated the public’s trust and I’m thankful for our federal, state and local law enforcement partners’ hard work to ensure this type of behavior is not tolerated.”
Dythe’s boyfriend Jones, 28, faces the same false-statement charges and remains in the Tulsa County jail on an FBI hold. He has not yet made an appearance in the federal case, according to online court records, and is currently in district court proceedings after being accused in two felony cases.
A few months after Dythe gave the gun to Jones, he was allegedly involved in a shooting that wounded at least one man at a south Tulsa apartment complex.
A co-defendant in the case told police the shooting occured when he went with Jones and two other men to confront the victim about a pistol he supposedly stole from Jones, according to a probable cause affidavit. It’s unclear whether the pistol Jones and the other men were looking for was the one that Officer Dythe purchased for Jones.
Jones’ state charges include shooting with intent to kil; conspiracy to commit a felony; robbery with a dangerous weapon; and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Although the last two charges were later dropped since a witness failed to appear.
For now, Officer Dythe’s status with the department remains unchanged, Tulsa Police Capt. Richard Meulenberg said. She will remain suspended without pay until the department’s internal investigation is completed.