LONG BEACH — Another person connected to the notorious Long Beach “Go-Kart Gang” will likely be heading to prison after his conviction Friday in Pacific County Superior Court.
Jeffrey Lorin Walton, 58, of Long Beach, was convicted of four counts of possession of a stolen firearm, one count of first-degree trafficking in stolen property and one count of possession of stolen property second-degree following an investigation related to Robert “Tony” Merrill, according to a press release from Pacific County Attorney Mark McClain. Merrill is the one-time owner of the popular rides at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Sid Snyder Drive. He is awaiting trial.
In the lead-up to authorities breaking up the operation in April 2017, Walton was the manager of Pioneer Storage. Sheriff’s deputies began executing search warrants at the storage facility. Walton concealed suspected stolen firearms in other units to thwart discovery by law enforcement officers and eventually agreed to sell them as part of an undercover police sting, McClain said.
“While Mr. Walton had no criminal history, we nevertheless felt his involvement warranted a significant prison sentence and conviction for several felony offenses. Had law enforcement not doggedly pursued these firearms, they certainly could have ended up in the hands of other criminals,” McClain said.
“This is now the seventh person we have convicted in this matter involving stolen firearms and narcotics on the Peninsula,” McClain said.
Walton’s sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
In other Superior Court news Friday, Ryan Michael O’Connor, 30, of Raymond was taken into custody and ordered to serve 13 months in prison following the revocation of a special drug offender sentence agreement.
“Prior to my term in office Pacific County opposed alternative drug treatment sentences, but I have agreed to them in an effort to help low-level drug offenders address addiction issues. However, when they fail, the agreements are revoked and they are sentenced, as was Mr. O’Connor,” McClain said.
O’Conner had been arrested for possession of methamphetamine, but by agreement the charge was amended to trafficking in stolen property, a higher level offense, to allow O’Connor to participate in the program rather than facing 6 to 12 months in the county jail.
“The six- to 12-month sentence is burdensome on our community because of the limited jail space at the cost locally. For that reason we work with those who have drug issues to get them into a program for drug treatment that also ensures that if they are not successful they go to prison rather than jail. That reduces our local expenses while also providing more opportunity for rehabilitation,” McClain said.
O’Connor will serve his prison sentence and be required to complete drug treatment.