Suspect in theft of firearms pleads guilty to felony count
BEMIDJI - The fate of an estimated 15 to 20 rifles and shotguns stolen from a Bemidji store in the summer of 2010 remains unclear.
But the future for one of the men responsible for stealing the firearms could include 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine -- the maximum penalty for the felony count of burglary in the second degree faced by Lee Sean Fier, 21.
One gun was handed over to authorities by Fier, of Bemidji, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to the single felony count. The admission of guilt for the smash-and-grab heist came in Beltrami District Judge Shari Schlucter's courtroom.
Assistant County Attorney David Frank prosecuted the case.
"Where did you go after," Frank asked Fier in sworn testimony.
"After what?" Fier said.
"After you broke into the store and stole the firearms," Frank said.
"I took them to Red Lake," Fier replied tersely.
Fier and two other men, whose whereabouts are unknown, broke into Bluewater Bait and Sports, 136 Peaceful Meadow Lane, just after midnight on July 27, 2010. According to court records, Fier used a scissor jack to smash the front door of the business, allowing the three men to enter. Fier told the court he didn't remember how many guns were taken, but records indicate more than 15 weapons were stolen, including a .223 caliber rifle and two 50 gauge shotguns.
"I think I grabbed five," Fier said.
Following the burglary, the men travelled to Red Lake, and "gave or sold the weapons to others," according to the criminal complaint filed by the Beltrami County Attorney's Office. One of the weapons was found at a Kelliher pawn shop in Oct., 2010 by a deputy with the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, and one of the shotguns was handed over to police by Fier's father in Sept., 2010.
The other weapons remain unaccounted for.
Fier will be sentenced March 11, but the fate, and location, of one of his accomplices remains yet another unknown. The man originally confessed to his part in the burglary in Oct., 2010 to an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and DNA evidence confirmed his presence at the crime scene, but he failed to show up for his first court appearance.
He is currently being sought by police, and has an active warrant for his arrest.