MOREAU -- The lawyer for a Moreau man charged with violating the state’s Safe Act gun laws has asked a judge to dismiss the criminal charges in the case, arguing State Police “tricked” his client into selling an assault rifle the day after the law went into effect.
Lawyer Greg Canale argued the charges against his client, William Greene, should be dismissed in the interest of justice because of the circumstances of the arrest.
Greene, 51, was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors on April 16 after he sold an Rguns .223-caliber semiautomatic rifle to an undercover State Police investigator who responded to an online advertisement.
The gun could not be legally sold at that time because of a state law change, and was sold without a background check required to sell a firearm, according to police. It was the first Safe Act prosecution in the region.
The arrest came the day after the law took effect, and the investigator first contacted Greene about it on March 28. Sale of the gun would have been legal at that point and up until April 15.
The officer waited until the law took effect and the sale became illegal, inquired again about the gun and purchased it for $2,000.
In a written motion to dismiss the charges, Canale called the crime a victimless one that was created by State Police to prove a point — that the new law will be enforced.
“It is a sad commentary that some high-ranking State Police officer decided to spend valuable man hours and thousands of tax dollars trying to catch an honest citizen selling his gun one day after a law went into effect instead of informing him of the new law,” Canale wrote. “To make an example out of a hard-working and honest citizen should not be the job of our State Police.”
Canale wrote that Greene believed he had until the end of the year to sell the gun and that no background check was required until that point as well.
Greene did ask the officer “if he was a cop,” but he did so “to be funny and to break the ice.” But the officer “misrepresented” himself and replied that he was not a police officer.
Canale wrote that Greene’s family needed money because they had used much of their savings as his wife dealt with serious health problems.
Moreau Town Justice Jeff McCabe will rule on the motion after the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office responds to it.
Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy said his office will review the motion and will oppose the request to dismiss the charges. He said the transaction was videotaped by police and will be used as evidence in the case.
“His (Greene’s) comments after arrest might be trying to paint himself in a certain light and that’s his decision,” Murphy said.
Greene is due back in court on Thursday but the district attorney’s office will have at least two weeks to respond to Canale’s pretrial motion.
The charges are each punishable by up to a year in jail.