Former deputy guilty of illegal gun sales

Christiano to be sentenced for two felony charges

Richard A. Christiano

JOHNSTOWN — A Fulton County Court jury on Wednesday found a former Fulton County sheriff’s deputy guilty of two of three felony counts he faced for illegally selling handguns.

Richard A. Christiano, 46, of Glen faced three felony counts of fourth-degree grand larceny before County Court Judge Polly A. Hoye.

His trial began Jan. 16 and closing statements were conducted Tuesday, prior to jury deliberations that went more than five hours into Wednesday.

Saratoga County Assistant District Attorney Sarah Leszczynski was the special prosecutor in the case, after the office of Fulton County District Attorney Chad Brown reported a conflict.

According to County Court, Christiano was found guilty of two of the three grand larceny counts.

Sentencing was adjourned until a later date.

Christiano was represented by Albany attorney Paul DerOhannesian.

The defendant was arrested by state police on Sept. 20, 2016. He is no longer employed by the sheriff’s office, according to Sheriff Richard Giardino.

A state police news release at the time of his arrest indicated Christiano was off-duty when he was charged. He was arrested after a joint investigation by state police, Fulton County Sheriff’s Department, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms into gun transactions that took place at The Gun Store in Perth.

Giardino said at the time that Christiano — a Fulton County sheriff’s deputy for the previous seven years — owned The Gun Store separately from his county law-enforcement duties.

The release said the investigation revealed Christiano allegedly took two handguns into his possession for safekeeping while working at The Gun Store, and sold the handguns without the gun owner’s permission in 2013 in Fulton and Montgomery counties. State police said the handguns were recovered.

For two of the counts, Giardino said Wednesday of the jury: “They obviously found proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The sheriff said the jury was apparently very “thorough and deliberate” in delivering its split verdict.

“His actions were on his own time,” Giardino added of Christiano.

Christiano was one of 27 officers working full time in September 2016 for the Law Enforcement Division of the Sheriff’s Department. He had been hired by former Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey.

Before coming to Fulton County, Christiano worked as a deputy for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen — the sole spokesperson for her Ballston Spa office — couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday or today.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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