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Lewis Crabtree

I want to make something clear right out front: although Hartford Police Range Administrator Officer Louis Crabtree [above] is innocent until proven guilty, the evidence presented by is overwhelming. I reckon Officer Crabtree stole ammo and, most probably, sold it for cash money. Or dispensed “free” ammo for favors. Or both. For perfectly understyandable legal reasons,‘s report on Crabtree’s perfidy dances around the subject like a newbie shooter with hot brass down her shirt. Like this . . .

The [Hartford City Council’s] audit found that Crabtree, who retired earlier this month, was circumventing the department’s $115,000-a-year budget for the purchase of ammunition, which calls for buying it on an as-needed basis. If more ammunition was needed, Crabtree made arrangements with the vendor to purchase the extra ammunition on an account and pay for it at a later date in a subsequent fiscal year.

This allowed Crabtree to exceed the annual budget without the knowledge or consent of department management, Campbell concluded.

When the practice came to light in October, Crabtree had accumulated an outstanding balance of $186,000, according to the audit.

The audit also found that even though the department had purchased new 40-caliber pistols in 2012, Crabtree continued to purchase significant amounts of 45-caliber and 9-millimeter rounds.

Campbell found that over a 10-month period in 2014, Crabtree had purchased 94,500 rounds of 45-caliber and 9-millimeter ammunition, at a cost of more than $33,000.

According to the audit, Crabtree acknowledged the purchase of the 45-caliber and 9-millimeter rounds, but said that he did so with the purpose of trading for 40-caliber rounds, which he claimed were in short supply.

However, Campbell said in the audit that Crabtree did not account for the distribution of the ammunition for training or other purposes and that there were no records of how much ammunition was actually being used by or assigned to officers. Crabtree also kept no records to account for the ammunition trades he claimed to make.

See what I mean? Clearly, Crabtree is (allegedly) a bad apple. Equally clearly, no effort will be made to investigate or arrest the officers and pals to whom Crabtree funneled the ammo, who knew damn well they were getting “free” or low-cost ammo on the taxpayer’s dime.

In fact, I’d bet dollars to cop donuts Crabtree will get a slap on the wrist and continue to collect his pension at the end of all this, lest his co-conspirators be revealed. Sad but true.

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    • I’m sure it happens, but we still need to say it:

      It’s theft. If found guilty, Punish him as such & remove the pension he gained while abusing the public trust.

      The end.

    • You would be wrong to simply “assume this happens at every police range” at any level or even remotely approaching what Crabtree did. And Crabtree got greedy by taking advance shipments against upcoming FY budgets.

      “Campbell found that over a 10-month period in 2014, Crabtree had purchased 94,500 rounds of 45-caliber and 9-millimeter ammunition, at a cost of more than $33,000.”

      If accurate, that means Crabtree was paying in the neighborhood of *$ .35 per round*.

      So to give a generous benefit of the doubt to Crabtree (and his fellow thieves…err…officers and friends), based ONLY on the outstanding balance of $186,000, at *$ .40 per round*, he had accumulated, according to the audit, a “mountain” of some 9300-fifty round boxes of .9mm, .45ACP, and .40S&W ammo.

      Add to that his annual budget expenditure of $ 115,000 for ammo which would yield about 5750-fifty round boxes of ammo minus the ammo legitimately used by Department personnel for range activities; that still makes for a pretty good sized stash of ammo to burn up…or sell…at taxpayers’ expense. No base cost, pure profit.

      A ‘little’ extracurricular activity while exploiting the public trust and violating his oath of office?

      Crabtree and any co-conspirators need to be prosecuted.

  1. He wont even get a slap on the wrist. I bet if they looked in some officers homes, they will find mountains of ammo stolen from the department.

    • Not one from me. I buy some of the same stuff the department uses, and I keep the receipts.

      • I am sorry that it appears that many of us are often accusing all cops. I have had a few good experiences with police where they demonstrated excellent professionalism and judgement. I intend to speak out about it when I see it in the future. I suppose that it is police unions that I have actually have the most philosophical conflict with. I have no idea what portion of police are problematic. I don’t even have an idea if it is closer to 1% or 50%.

        • I don’t have any first hand info on the amount either. But according to Frank Serpico’s famous first hand account, in his dept in the 1960s and 70s, It was almost 100 percent. He reported it in 1967 and nothing happened until he met ONE other officer who would help him, years later. Then after going public he was shot in the face, but survived to have the dept. harass him endlessly until he testified.
          He is still alive, in 2014 he said: “The Police Are Still Out of Control… I Should Know”

        • I did listen to a recent interview FS on NPR a few months ago I think. His experience was in the 1960’s NYPD though. I have hoped that that is no longer typical.

  2. Believe it or not, his system is a model of excellence in the kleptocracy that is Hartford (and Connecticut) government.

    Right now, the CT legislators are debating “avoiding” a constitutional spending cap by pretending $100M in spending is not spending.

  3. But..But… Cops have integrity, they come to our School assemblies, and preach honesty and truth and community… “We can all make a difference”… “Take a bite out of crime”.. and all that other Bull$hit that fuels young black people to throw $hit at us.. you know, because we have the respect of our communities..

  4. He kept a lack of records of his own doings. Because of this, they can never substantiate whether he bartered ammo or how much was used by officers or not. The only thing they can get him for is spending more than the budget for the department. Seems he did a pretty good job hiding everything.

      • Yes. And sent to a federal pen. And then released, reinstated, and then retired with his full pension. Kinda makes one wonder what he he used to blackmail the system don’t it?

  5. ” … Hartford Police Range Administrator Officer Louis Crabtree [above] is innocent until proven guilty, … “

    That’s in a court of law. This is the internet.

    • My limited understanding is that if he is found not guilty, or he is not convicted, calling him guilty is slander, and could open TTAG up for a civil suit for deformation of character. Im sure dirk, ralph or a whole lot of others could clarify that.

  6. “…trading for 40-caliber rounds, which he claimed were in short supply.”

    Psshhh yea whatever. 40 was the most abundant caliber available during the ammo scare. There were ALWAYS boxes of 40 around when every other pistol caliber was cleaned out.

    • I was just going to post this exact statement. .40 in short supply? HA HA.

      During the Great Ammo Shortage, in area Wal-Marts there would be a vacuum in the .22 lr space and emptiness in all other pistol calibers on their cheesy glassed-in ammo shelves.

      Except for the one pistol caliber that no one used and/or wanted:

      Nah. Not gonna say it. Too easy.

    • I converted both of my .357 SIG pistols to .40 S&W during the ammo shortage simply so I could continue to shoot.

      Here in NJ, .40 S&W went up in price but was always available.

      • There was always .40 at the Cabela’s in East Hartford, and at Hoffman’s in Newington, just down the road from Hartford. 9mm and .45, not so much.

        • That makes sense. If 45 and 9 were the hard to get calibers, they would be the ones he could sell the easiest for the most cash. I think most of us know by now who the worst criminals are today…

  7. The maxim “innocent until proven (by the prosecutor meeting the BRD standard of proof) guilty” applies to criminal charges in court. It does not apply in civil actions in court NOR IN THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION. Ask O. J. Simpson.

    • The court of public opinion doesn’t matter because he retired. The civil court makes no difference because it will not send him to jail or deprive him of his pension or his gun rights, as a felony conviction would. Add to that, the lack of records will make it very difficult to prove exactly what was stolen and what was traded and what was used during training. Unless one of his fellow officers rats him out–and we all know what the odds of that happening are.

  8. It will never see a court of law. We the tax payer will foot the bill and this will all blow over like the rest of the cases that are sealed from the tax payer. If it goes to court the judge will dismiss it for lack of evidence. We live in a very crooked system boys and girls and you had better get used to it. They have he goods on each other and if you squeel on me I squeal on you so shut up or we all go down.

  9. Same thing out here in Washington State. The guy that ran the gun range and was a SWAT team firearms instructor for King County Sheriff got busted for ammo and brass theft, drugs, promotion of prostitution (his estranged wife, no less).

  10. Retired? Looks a mite young…yeah I got a good laugh outa’ the 40cal fib…the abundance of 40 made me love it. Not trying for a caliber war…

    • Cops can retire with a full pension after 20 years regardless of their age in a lot of crooked Dem-run jurisdictions.

      The same goes for federal law enforcement, Special (armed) Agents in the IRS can retire with a full pension after 20 years. My taxation professor in college tried to push a few of us in that direction.

    • Speaking of .22, I understand the ammo manufacturers not wanting to build additional factories when demand drops, but dang…. a person could get filthy rich if he built a rimfire factory at this time!

      • If somebody built a rimfire factory, he would quickly go bankrupt when the other ammo manufacturers miraculously found the capacity to make lots of rimfire.

      • You wanna pay to make the tooling? I don’t think there’s a warehouse where you can pick up a turn-key .22 assembly line.

        I bet if you look at most of the current lines running most are 50-plus years old if not pushing 100.

    • Thought I heard thunder at Walmart the other day. Turns out is was the sound of air collapsing upon itself when somebody grabbed the only brick of .22LR left on the shelf.

      • The sporting goods guy at my local Walmart turned me on to a phone app called “Brass Badger,” you can search your local Walmart stores by caliber, and it will tell you what (brand, type, package amount) is in stock. The only downside is that it pulls the information off of the Truck’s manifest, so if they get a truck in at noon they may not unload the ammo until 7:30-9pm and that the ammo would not go on the shelves until 7am the next day. The plus side is you can walk up to the sporting goods counter around 9pm or find a manager later and they should sell you the ammo out of the back.

        That is how I scored my last purchase of 100 rnd packs of CCI Mini Mags. Then you can be the one causing the thunder clap as you snag the lone brick of ammo off the shelves, but don’t forget to walk to the front of the store clutching your purchase and muttering “Mine, My Precious.”

        • I’ll give the app a try -walking by there every other day isn’t working anymore. Let’s try to keep the app info to ourselves though, wouldn’t want word like that to get out.

  11. The Sturmgewehr he is hold was turned in by a woman who did not realize it was registered by her father; he is still in possession of her deceased fathers gun….how does that happen…legally? Was any 7.92X33 ammo bought by the city?

  12. Way to go slick. And guilt by association grows. Good cops are tarnished by this behavior. By unexplained spinal injuries in custody. I could go on, but no need.

    • Good Cops?… oh, you mean the ones that blow the whistle on the bad ones?.. huh… havnt seen that happen.

  13. CT has to have the most corrupt cops in the nation. From the staties to the local PD’s as long as I’ve been alive they’ve been getting shut down by the feds, reorganized, losing lawsuits, making headlines for blatantly announcing they are profiling members of their communities, stealing, using secure databases to stalk people, skirting CT’s AWB for themselves and their buddies and plenty more.
    If you live in CT it’s a given that your local PD is criminal from top to bottom. If they havent been forcibly reorganized yet it’s just because the feds havent worked through the rest of CT’s backlog.
    And by the time they get through them all it’s time to start over at the beginning again.
    Meriden and East Haven are relatively recent prime examples of entire departments being shut down and restructured due to criminal activity.

  14. I doubt that much of the ammo in question went to cops, unless it was for personal use. Quite a bit went to non-cops, I’ll wager.

    Any takers?

    • Perhaps that is a possible short term solution to police crime that results in expensive lawsuits and judgements. If the judgements were taken out of the pension funds we might actually see the police policing themselves just a little bit.

  15. I was in the military. This guy is a piker. Some armorers will break a part on a firearm in two. Turn in one half of the part and get a new one and several months later do it again. Pretty soon they had a spare full auto.
    Don’t get me started on ammo. Back years ago we had to turn in all she’ll casings or we didn’t get to go home, not anymore.
    The military will not report missing or stolen firearms.
    So take 4 lbs of explosives to the range to destroy and only 2 lbs.
    I’m surprised there aren’t more tanks in someone’s oversized garage.
    You don’t get promoted in the military by showing the boss a problem, you have to cooperate and graduate.
    I remember an Army Colonel during Viet Nam saying on tv, the problem with the M16 was the troops were not keeping it clean. Course at the beginning they weren’t given cleaning kits.
    When you see a field grade or general officer on tv talking, you know they are lying.

  16. In the beginning of the article I was hoping this would be a case of someone cutting through red tape to get what is needed- a better value on ammunition so officers can actually train, for example. But then, reading this…

    “Crabtree acknowledged the purchase of the 45-caliber and 9-millimeter rounds, but said that he did so with the purpose of trading for 40-caliber rounds, which he claimed were in short supply.”

    …yeah, that doesn’t pass the smell test.

  17. Probably just a big misunderstanding, clerical error, someone with a grudge against him, trying to frame him, etc. yeah right.

    He should be rigorously investigated by an outside IG type. When found guilty, he should loose his pension, be forced to repay the value of what he misappropriated ( full retail value or department cost, whichever is more) and spend the maximum time in jail possible for his conviction. Only a very few examples of this type punishment will do wonders to force others to “get their mind right”.

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