Judge OKs accused ex-cop's request to release guns so they can be sold

Judge OKs accused ex-cop's request to release guns so they can be sold

URBANA — A Champaign County judge has agreed to a former Champaign police officer's request that his guns be released from evidence, so they may be sold.

The former officer, Justus Clinton, 43, of Fisher, was charged in mid-May with three counts of burglary to a motor vehicle alleging that on May 13, in the early-morning hours, he entered three different pickup trucks in Fisher, intending to steal.

Thirty guns, all of which Clinton legally owned, were seized from his home the day after the alleged crimes by sheriff's deputies and Fisher police as part of a court-ordered search. Clinton subsequently surrendered the guns and his firearm owner's identification card as a condition of his bond.

Jamie Propps, the Champaign attorney representing Clinton, had asked that the guns be released by the Champaign County Sheriff's Office to a federal firearms dealer who plans to sell them at auction and give the money to Clinton's mother, who acts as his power-of-attorney.

Judge Roger Webber allowed the request, and the guns were transferred Tuesday from the sheriff's office to the dealer.

At the time of his arrest, the 14-year police officer was not working but was still on the city payroll until his "separation agreement," which he had signed days earlier, took effect May 21.

He had been put on leave in March for problems stemming from his use of alcohol and drugs, which was apparently affecting his work, according to documents released by the city.

Assistant State's Attorney Scott Larson did not object to Propps' request that the guns be released for sale since they have no evidentiary value in the case of burglary to motor vehicles.

Clinton is tentatively set to be tried in October on the Class 3 felony counts.

Propps asked that the case be continued until then so that Clinton may complete a residential substance-abuse program in Florence, S.C., that he's been in about a month. If he continues to progress, court documents said, he should be released in mid-September.

Clinton is due back in court Oct. 2.

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