AG James Announces Conviction of Buffalo Firearms Instructor for Falsifying Firearms Safety Training Courses
Dennis Brennan Fraudulently Certified Individuals for Firearms, Use of Deadly Force Trainings
BUFFALO – Attorney General Letitia James announced the guilty plea of Dennis Brennan for defrauding the state and students and falsifying firearms training course completions at the Peace Officer Training Academy of Buffalo, NY, which he owned and directed. Brennan, 66 of South Wales, New York, failed to provide proper security guard and peace officer training courses required by New York State law and submitted fraudulent documents to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) falsely stating that proper training requirements had been met. The scheme involved fraudulently reporting that individuals completed necessary and required courses on firearms training and use of deadly physical force, putting the lives of officers and the public at risk.
“We won’t tolerate those who put greed over the safety of our communities,” said Attorney General James. “By enabling individuals to have guns without adequate training and clearance, Dennis Brennan put others at risk. I will continue to fight to uphold measures designed to protect our communities from gun violence.”
Brennan entered guilty pleas before the Honorable Christopher J. Burns in Erie County Court, to one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, both class E felonies. The Court has also ordered Brennan’s firearms license to be revoked and has directed him to surrender all weapons.
Between 2016 and 2019, Brennan offered Security Guard Training Courses at his training academy, which are required to obtain or maintain an Armed Security Guard License. On several occasions, Brennan accepted payment from students for the courses and provided them with fraudulent completion certificates, despite not requiring them to fire their weapons or provide training on the safe and proper use of firearms, as mandated by DCJS. Brennan then presented the false documents to DCJS with the intent to defraud.
The DCJS issues peace officer certifications to individuals who successfully complete an approved peace officer training course once an approved instructor provides documentation that all rules and regulations surrounding that course are followed. Brennan knowingly marketed and provided peace officer training courses to civilians, though he was fully aware that his academy was not authorized to issue such certifications to civilians. Brennan kept the tuition money paid by the individuals who remained in the course, which amounted to over $1,000 per student.
As mandated by DCJS, New York state requires security guard students to complete a 47 Hour Firearms Training Course prior to obtaining their Armed Security Guard License and to complete an annual 8 Hour Firearms Training Course to maintain their Armed Security Guard License. One of the requirements for successfully completing both courses is that students must train and fire with their duty type handgun and achieve a minimum qualifying score.
Brennan’s guilty pleas are the result of an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office following a referral from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, which culminated in a multi-count indictment charging Brennan with 16 felony counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree. Brennan was arraigned before Judge Burns on February 26, 2020. Brennan is scheduled to be sentenced on September 21, 2020.
The DCJS, the Municipal Police Training Council (MPTC), and the Security Guard Advisory Council (SCAG) took administrative action and revoked Brennan’s MPTC instructor certification, which allowed him to train peace officers, and his SCAC instructor, director and school certifications, which allowed him to train security guards.
“DCJS, the Municipal Police Training Council and the Security Guard Advisory Council take our responsibilities to establish training for police, peace officers, and security personnel seriously because proper training is critical to helping ensure public safety for all New York State residents,” said Division of Criminal Justice Services Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green. “I commend Attorney General James’ team for their handling of this case and want to recognize DCJS Office of Public Safety staff members, who provided invaluable assistance so the Attorney General’s Office could hold Mr. Brennan accountable for skirting the rules, falsifying paperwork, taking advantage of unsuspecting individuals seeking gainful employment and endangering the public so he could profit. We hope this case serves as a deterrent to those who would consider compromising the integrity of police, peace officer and security guard training in our state.”
The Attorney General thanks the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and the New York State Police for their valuable assistance in this investigation
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Mary Gorman of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau. The Public Integrity Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Travis Hill and Deputy Bureau Chief Gerard Murphy. The Criminal Justice Division is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado. The investigation was led by Investigator David Buske of the Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator Antoine Karam. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Oliver Pu-Folkes. Senior Analyst Joseph Conniff assisted in the investigation.