Charges have have been dismissed against a Kingsburg gun collector who was accused in Fresno County Superior Court of possessing 33 assault rifles, a grenade launcher and a silencer.
Without elaborating, prosecutors said it was in the interests of justice to dismiss 35 felony charges against Chris Haga, 43.
Haga's lawyer, Mark Coleman, said Thursday that legal problems with the Fresno Police Department's search warrant prompted the dismissal.
Fresno police began investigating Haga in 2011 after the department received a tip from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that he may have weapons that were stolen from Fort Irwin, an Army base in the Mojave Desert.
Among the weapons stolen were 26 AK-74 assault rifles and one SVD sniper rifle, a police affidavit said.
According to Coleman, Haga allowed federal agents to search his home and business because he knew his weapons were not stolen. Coleman said the federal agents also had assured Haga that they were just looking for stolen weapons from Fort Irwin and were not interested in filing state charges.
Fresno police, however, used the ATF tip to get a search warrant so Haga could be charged in Superior Court, Coleman said.
In dismissing the charges, "the DA realized there was significant legal issues with the search warrant," Coleman said Thursday.
Court records say prosecutor Scott Kubota made a motion Wednesday to dismiss the charges against Haga. Judge Don Penner granted the motion.
An affidavit by Fresno police detective Theodore Garcia said Haga showed investigators his gun collection and helped them search his home.
Among the items seized were two AK-74 rifles and an MP5 submachine gun. But none of the weapons found in his home or business were stolen from Fort Irwin, Coleman said.
Police said a grenade launcher and silencer were found hidden in the home. But Coleman said the grenade launcher was a flare gun that was legal in California and could be purchased "over the counter." The alleged silencer was actually an extended barrel for "a kid's air-soft rifle," he said.
Because California law prohibits assault rifles, Coleman said Haga plans to ask the court for permission to ship his gun collection out of state.
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