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Congress Candidate John Katko Explains How His Gun Ended Up at Fatal Robbery in 2000

John Smith/WAER News

  Congressional Candidate John Katko says he was cleared of any wrongdoing after a gun he owned was stolen and used in a fatal armed robbery. reported today that the former prosecutor has been hiding the theft.  Back in 2000 it resulted in the gun being used in a crime in which two people were killed.  Katko defends himself against any responsibility for that crime.

“Everyone can always look back on a situation and say they could have done this or that better, but the bottom line is I was found to have no wrongdoing.  I think one of the most important parts of the story is that despite the tremendous threats, I’m out here on a regular basis as a prosecutor over 20 years doing major organized crime cases, going after the most violent criminals, in Syracuse especially, I never backed down.  I kept fighting for it and I kept doing it, even when at times my family’s safety was an issue”

He says he carried the gun, with a legal permit, after several threats were made against him.  He also explains it was kept out of view, as per federal policy.  

Katko has since released a written statement (full text below) in which he says he’s spent his life trying to make neighborhoods safer.  He adds that he finds it unfortunate that he’s being portrayed as a bad guy for political gain.  Katko is running against DanMaffei.


I have spent my entire career fighting to make our families safer and our neighborhoods more secure. I have dedicated my life to doing a very dangerous job requiring very dangerous responsibilities necessary to incarcerate the most dangerous criminals in our community.


This has resulted in serious safety concerns for my children, my wife Robin, and me... a risk so great that it has required us to take some very serious and very necessary security precautions. In response to confirmed and credible threats against my family and me and at the urging of the United States Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robin and I have incorporated their recommended total protection package into our daily lives. Part of that plan required me to legally obtain a protective weapon, which I did with proper approvals and training from the United States Department of Justice and the United States Marshals Service. Fourteen years ago I, too, became the victim of a crime. My protective weapon was stolen from a locked briefcase concealed from view in my locked vehicle. I left the weapon in that vehicle as my wife and I felt uncomfortable taking it into an area church for a required meeting with other Onondaga County Foster Parent Program volunteers…clearly not an appropriate venue to be carrying a weapon of any kind. This incident was fully investigated by the United States Department of Justice and the United States Marshals Service and no wrong doing was found. The stolen weapon was later recovered on a suspect in a double homicide; tests confirmed the weapon was not used in the commission of that crime. Those facts remain true today. My opponents have chosen to rehash this incident that was fully reported 14 years ago in an attempt to make it an issue in my race for U.S. Congress. I say to them and to all that I have no regrets about taking every security precaution required these past 20 years to reduce the very real physical threats to my children, my wife, and me. It is unfortunate that some have chosen to portray me as the bad guy when, in fact, I was the victim of a crime that resulted from my public service as a federal prosecutor to rid our neighborhoods of murderers, rapists, drug traffickers, and violent gangs. Robin and I both personally met with the Post-Standard in the days leading up to this story to share those facts and our concerns with its staff and executive leadership. Unfortunately, many relevant details of the situation were excluded from today’s story. People should know that I never back down from a fight. And I will not allow this story to distract from the needs of Central New York voters regarding jobs, our economy, fairness, and failed leadership in Washington.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.
John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.