WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY- In the crossfire of a machine gun mystery, Luzerne County Sheriffs Department officials refused to answer questions Thursday night about the sale of a machine gun. It's claimed by sources in the sheriffs department ex-Sheriff Michael Savokinas and Chief Deputy Charles Guarnieri erred when selling the heavy-duty weapon in August to a gun shop in Pittson.
Reached on his county-issued cell phone Thursday evening, Guarnieri refused to answer questions referring us to the department's solicitor Joseph Sklarosky, Sr.. He immediately terminated the phone call.
Members of the county's legal staff confirmed they're investigating the matter.
Contacted about the I-Team's findings, Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla said something of that value has to be bid, according to county policy. Petrilla added the machine gun is county property and that it lacked an appraisal before it was sold. We're told Savokinas and Guarnieri plainly lacked authorization to sell the weapon.
Sources say the machine gun was turned over by jail bosses to the sheriffs department. Savokinas and Guarnieri began the process of selling the weapon in August, according to the owner of the Pittston gun shop who took possession of the firearm. County Solicitor Vito DeLuca said Savokinas' name appears on transaction paperwork.
Savokinas resigned from office in September, leaving Guarnieri to complete the sale. Advanced Arms owner Chris Scoda said he advised the sheriffs to review the purchase with their department solicitor, Sklarosky. Scoda said the officers allegedly informed him Sklarosky signed off on the transaction.
Sklarosky did not return a message for comment.
The I-Team was unable to reach Savokinas.