A Massachusetts police officer has resigned amid an internal investigation he allegedly sold a vintage German Luger pistol that was taken from the Manchester-by-the-Sea Police Department's storage.
Authorities said Howard Lewis had been placed on administrative leave on Dec. 15 after a resident went to the police station about a month earlier to retrieve a German Luger that had belonged to his father.
The weapon had been at the police department for safekeeping at the request of the owner's wife in 2014. Authorities said when the man went to retrieve it, the gun could not be located.
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An internal investigation was launched and a department-wide email was sent inquiring about the missing Luger.
The investigation determined that Lewis sold the firearm through a licensed firearms dealer in Gloucester. Authorities said Lewis had received a check for $650.
Lewis, who was appointed to the department in June 2010, has since resigned.
Chief Edward Conley said the department has apologized to the family and reimbursed them for the firearm.
"In this instance, an officer circumvented the department's evidence system by failing to report that he was in possession of private property and then selling that property for his own gain," Conley said. "This action violated the public trust and violated the very mission of the Manchester Police Department, and I am satisfied with the outcome. I again extend my sincere apology to the family who was affected by these actions."
Conley said Lewis simply could not remain with the department after the investigation.
"I understand police officers are going to make mistakes," Conley said. "We're human beings. But when you violate the public trust, you can't be a police officer anymore."
The chief says the department has made progress since the time of the gun's theft.
"The policies we have in place today that were not in place in 2014 would prevent something like this from happening," Conley said.
Efforts to reach Lewis were not successful. He has lost his job and benefits, and he could lose his pension.
Authorities said there are no indications that any other firearms, evidence, or property is missing from the department's storage.
The Essex County District Attorney's Office says Lewis will not face any criminal charges.