Owner of landscape design firm arrested for alleged illegal weapons horde
|By Mary Elizabeth Williams-Villano|
The illicit guns were found among a cache of over 1,000 others in a Bel-Air mansion.
Just why Girard Saenz felt he needed so many guns hasn’t come out yet — but the guns themselves have. According to a story by the Los Angeles Times, federal authorities received an anonymous tip about a person manufacturing and selling guns at a residence in Bel-Air. Saenz, 57, was arrested at the scene after police seized more than 1,000 guns, including some that authorities allege were fully automatic.
Following his arrest, his huge arsenal was splayed all over the driveway of the mansion owned by his apparent girlfriend.
Adding to the mystery is the fact that the weapons weren’t found in some flophouse in a sketchy neighborhood, but in the tony gated community of Bel-Air, California. And, that the man arrested is said to be a “longtime companion” of a woman with ties to the ultra-wealthy Getty family.
As reported in the story, public records reveal that Saenz has been a licensed general building contractor since 1994 and operates a business that he started in the early 1990s in San Diego that specializes in architectural environmental lighting and landscape design called Gerry Saenz and Associates.
The current business address is a property on North Bunker Hill Avenue in Los Angeles, which he owns with Cynthia Beck, an L.A. real estate mogul. That home was one of several locations searched by authorities Wednesday, law enforcement sources not authorized to speak publicly told the Times.
According to the story, when investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Los Angeles Police Department arrived at the five-bedroom estate, they found it in complete disarray. They described it as “a hoarder’s paradise,” with guns strewn throughout several rooms. It took about 30 law enforcement personnel over 12 hours to remove all the rifles, shotguns, assault weapons and pistols.
Girard Saenz, who was in the home at the time, was arrested on suspicion of violating California’s assault weapons law which prohibits the manufacture, distribution, transportation, importation and sale of any assault rifle or .50-caliber weapon except in specific circumstances. Officers also found .50-caliber Browning machine guns in the cache, the story reports. Saenz was selling the guns, according to authorities.
After the raid, the weapons were laid in stacks atop blankets on the property’s winding driveway so that officials could catalog them. Eventually, they were loaded into the back of a large box truck and driven off the property to be itemized and booked into evidence, Lt. Chris Ramirez, an LAPD spokesman, was reported as saying.
“This is a big stash,” Ramirez told reporters at the scene. “It’s beyond comprehension that somebody can have so many weapons in a residence like this, in a neighborhood like this.”
Authorities launched the investigation after they received an anonymous tip about a person manufacturing and selling guns at the home. The ATF said in a statement that its agents searched the house after discovering Saenz was illegally selling firearms outside the scope of the federal license he possesses.
Public records show the Bel-Air property is owned by Cynthia Beck, who has three daughters with J. Paul Getty’s son Gordon Getty. Beck bought the house in January 2001, but it remains unclear what, if any, connection she has to these events. It is unclear whether Beck lives at the home where the raid took place, and reporters could not reach her for comment.
Saenz had an earlier run-in with law enforcement over guns. He was reportedly arrested at a Malibu home on suspicion of brandishing a firearm in September 2017, but the matter was not considered for charges after the alleged victims told deputies they did not want to pursue the matter, according to a sheriff's spokesman.
Saenz was released from custody a few hours after his arrest, upon posting a $50,000 bond. The Times reporters could not reach him for comment.