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A Deputy Mayor Is Charged With Amassing 16 Assault Weapons And Fake FBI IDs

A wall in a "gun room" in Brian Downey's house held a range of powerful weapons, many of which were not registered, authorities say.
A wall in a "gun room" in Brian Downey's house held a range of powerful weapons, many of which were not registered, authorities say.

The deputy mayor of Airmont, N.Y., has been arrested on multiple weapons charges after police discovered an arsenal of illegal guns in his house — including 16 assault weapons and 13 silencers, according to the district attorney's office. Investigators said they also found a stash of fake federal IDs, including FBI credentials.

Deputy Mayor Brian Downey, 47, now faces more than 30 state and federal criminal counts.

Department of Homeland Security agents recently alerted authorities in Rockland County, which includes Airmont, that Downey had bought an illegal rifle suppressor over the internet — information that led to a raid that uncovered a room full of guns and gun parts, the district attorney's office said.

"Our community is without a doubt safer today than it was yesterday," Rockland County District Attorney Tom Walsh said in a statement about Downey's arrest, noting the rise of gun violence around the United States.

Rifles were not registered — and some required special licenses, feds say

One of the most serious charges against Downey accuses him of possessing unregistered firearms — specifically, two items that require special licenses to possess: a short-barrel rifle and a sawed-off shotgun. The rifle is a version of the AR-15 with a barrel shorter than 16 inches, according to a federal complaint signed by a Homeland Security Investigations special agent. The shotgun has a barrel less than 18 inches long, the document said.

Downey told investigators that he believed he was allowed to have a rifle with an illegal barrel "because he was a peace officer," the complaint said. It added he was aware short-barreled rifles cannot be legally possessed without special authorization from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Investigators say they found fake IDs purportedly from the FBI and other agencies in Brian Downey's house. A portion of the credentials are seen here.
/ Rockland County, N.Y., District Attorney's Office
Investigators say they found fake IDs purportedly from the FBI and other agencies in Downey's house. A portion of the credentials are seen here.

Deputy mayor had multiple bogus federal IDs, authorities say

Investigators also found a lockbox, which they opened after Downey said he did not have the combination.

"Inside the lock box, I located numerous federal badges and credentials," Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Daniel Suden said in the complaint. These included a Drug Enforcement Administration badge and badge holder; a U.S. marshals badge and holder; three FBI badges and badge holders; and three complete FBI credential sets, including two-part identification cards, with Downey's name and photo. Other credentials bore the imprints of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice.

All of the badges and credentials "are not authentic and not issued under the proper authority," Suden said.

In addition to those items, investigators also found Downey's name and image on several New York Court Officer badges and IDs, resulting in a state charge of possessing a forged instrument.

Brian Downey's name and photo appear on a fake New York Court Officer badge.
/ Rockland County, N.Y., District Attorney's Office
Downey's name and photo appear on what authorities say is a fake New York Court Officer badge.

There's no sign of a motive in court records

None of the court documents released so far by county and federal authorities suggest an explanation for why Downey allegedly amassed an illegal trove of guns and forged documents. A local newspaper, the Rockland/Westchester Journal News, describes the deputy mayor as "a Second Amendment advocate who has permitted handguns" and was elected in March 2019.

The investigation that led to Downey's arrest involved several agencies, from the Rockland County District Attorney's Office to the Department of Homeland Security and a U.S. Postal Service task force.

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