Former Commander of the Pacific Grove Police Department Sentenced to 30 Months’ Imprisonment for Charges Stemming from Abuse of His Position
SAN JOSE—John Nyunt was sentenced today to 30 months in prison, and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and over $10,000 in restitution for charges filed against him in connection with his position as Commander of the Pacific Grove Police Department (“PGPD”), announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson.
Nyunt, 51, from Pacific Grove, pleaded guilty on May 13, 2014, to extortion and wire fraud. He also pleaded guilty on December 16, 2014, to possession of stolen firearms. The case involves Nyunt’s abuse of his position with the police department and his attempts to profit illegally from his position of authority.
In the May 13, 2014, plea agreement, Nyunt admitted he lied to a person who approached the PGPD to report having been a victim of electronic surveillance and stalking. Rather than investigate the alleged crime, Nyunt admitted telling the person she would have to hire a private investigator of his choosing. The individual ultimately paid $10,000 to Nyunt and the investigator for assistance, including promised security services, that never materialized. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Nyunt pleaded guilty to one count of extortion, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951, and one count of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343.
In the December 16, 2014, plea agreement, Nyunt admitted to employing a scheme by which he would profit from his illegal possession and sale of numerous stolen assault rifles, shotguns, and semi-automatic pistols. Aside from being the Commander of the PGPD, Nyunt also was an instructor at the former police academy at the Monterey Peninsula College (“MPC”). Nyunt knew the MPC was willing to donate numerous firearms to PGPD. He convinced the college he would accept the firearms on behalf of PGPD. Specifically, knowing that the PGPD did not want the firearms, Nyunt nevertheless signed a memorandum of understanding with the MPC that falsely stated he was accepting the firearms on PGPD’s behalf. Nyunt was not authorized to execute the agreement and was not authorized to accept the firearms. Then, over the course of about three years, Nyunt arranged to have most or all of the guns sold. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Nyunt pleaded guilty to possession of stolen firearms, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(j).
In addition to these federal charges, on April 24, 2014, Nyunt pleaded guilty in state court to one count of dissuading a person from reporting a crime by threats of violence, one count of being an accessory after the fact to theft and burglary, and one count of being an accomplice to the burglary of a business. All three of these state offenses are felonies and Nyunt received a sentence of three years’ imprisonment.
Nyunt’s federal sentence was handed down by The Honorable Beth Labson Freeman, U.S. District Judge. Nyunt’s 30 month sentence will run concurrently with the remaining portion of his state court sentence. Judge Freeman also imposed a fine of $5000, restitution of $9000 to one of Nyunt’s victims, and $1,867.95 to the Pacific Grove Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip A. Guentert is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Elise Etter. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as investigators from the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.