Police: Theft suspect admits to trading ‘pound of weed’ for stolen gun

Posted at 12:53 PM, Sep 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-10 14:53:55-04

KEARNS, Utah — An 18-year-old man has been booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for allegedly receiving a gun he knew had been stolen.

According to a statement of probable cause, Matthew L. Ortega, of Kearns, told a North Salt Lake officer "that he traded a pound of weed" for a Colt Python .357 revolver.

On August 14, a North Salt Lake resident reported the .357 and other firearms had been stolen from a garage

"Several weeks later, the owner of the firearm [...] was searching Utah Gun Exchange, and found what he believed to be his firearm," the probable cause statement said.

According to police, the gun's owner then called the number on the Utah Gun Exchange listing, and a Kearns woman who answered said she already sold the firearm.

On September 4, a North Salt Lake officer also called the woman, who said she suspected her son Matthew and his friends may have been involved, the statement said.

The officer overheard the woman talking to Matthew, and Matthew told her he had listed the gun for sale on Utah Gun Exchange.

"[She] called me back later on and stated that [she] had the firearm in her residence and wanted me to come get it," the officer wrote.

Two North Salt Lake officers then went to the home, where they confirmed the .357 was the same one that had been stolen on August 14.

"While there on scene I was told that Matthew accidentally discharged the firearm into the wall by the door. I saw the hole in the wall in the living room," the officer wrote.

Two days later, police took Ortega into custody, and he admitted to receiving the stolen gun and firing it inside his residence.

Ortega faces a third-degree felony charge of theft by receiving stolen property and a class B misdemeanor charge of discharge of firearms.