Former sheriff pleads guilty to selling stolen guns

Tommy Lee Adams (Source: Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department)
Tommy Lee Adams (Source: Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department)

CARTER COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - The United States Attorney's Office announced Tuesday that the former sheriff of Carter County, Tommy Lee Adams, pleaded guilty to possession and selling of guns.

Adams pleaded guilty to two felony counts of possession of stolen guns, one felony county of sale of a stolen gun and one felony county of being a drug user in possession of a gun.

He admitted that on December 24, 2009, while acting as sheriff of Carter County, he responded to a complaint at the home of Milo Couser in Carter County. After getting consent to search the home, authorities found at least 18 guns.

The attorney's office says Adams knew Couser was a convicted felon and could not lawfully own a gun. At Adam's direction, Carter County Deputies collected the guns and, instead of maintaining all of the guns as evidence they say Adams and Deputy Steffanie Kearbey kept the guns and sold a number of them.

On April 2, 2011, the attorney's office says Kearbey sold one of the guns to a confidential informant for the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Federal and state law enforcement authorities then seized five of the Couser guns from Kearbey's home.

Adams also admitted that between December 2009 and April 2011, he sold two other stolen guns; one was a 9mm Ruger which Adams had told other to steal from the home of Robert Boone in Carter County on Sept. 1, 2010. The other gun was a 20 gauge, which Adams knew had previously been stolen.

According to the attorney's office, on or about April 2, 2011, Federal and State authorities searched Adams' home and recovered several guns, including a .243 Remington rifle. Adams admitted this rifle had been stolen during a burglary at Michael Turner's home on or about Feb. 6, 2012.

They say Adams knew the Turner home had been burglarized because Adams drove the burglar to the Turner home to commit the burglary.

Adams admitted that during the time he had the guns, he was using drugs, including meth.

The former sheriff now faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 on each count. His sentencing has been set for July 2, 2012.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Assistant United States Attorney Larry H. Ferrell is handling the prosecution for the government.

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