AG James Announces Sentencing of Buffalo Firearms Instructor for Falsifying Firearms Safety Training Courses, Putting New Yorkers at Risk of Gun Violence

Dennis Brennan Sentenced to Four Months in Jail, Three Years of Probation  

BUFFALO – Attorney General Letitia James announced this week’s sentencing of Dennis Brennan for defrauding the state and citizens of New York by failing to provide proper security guard and peace officer training courses required by New York state law through the Peace Officer Training Academy of Buffalo, New York, which he owned and directed for many years, and further, by subsequently submitting fraudulent documents to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) falsely stating that proper training requirements had been met.  

Brennan, 66 of South Wales, New York, was sentenced on Monday by the Honorable Christopher J. Burns in Erie County Court to a four month split sentence with four months in jail and three years on probation. The sentencing was based upon his guilty pleas on July 20, 2020 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 E felonies. The Court previously ordered Brennan’s firearms license to be revoked and ordered Brennan to surrender all weapons.

“By giving the green light for uncertified individuals to carry guns, Dennis Brennan has put our communities at greater risk of gun violence,” said Attorney General James. “It is illegal and immoral for anyone to use fraudulent and deceitful behavior in an effort to line their own pockets, and endanger the lives of New Yorkers in the process. My office will continue do everything in its power to protect New Yorkers and to hold individuals such as Brennan accountable for their destructive actions.”

“Proper training of police, peace officers and security personnel is critical to public safety and that’s why DCJS, the Municipal Police Training Council and the Security Guard Advisory Council set high standards for training and certification,” said Division of Criminal Justice Services Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green. “I want to thank the DCJS staff and the Councils for their work monitoring compliance with those standards. I also want to thank Attorney General James and her dedicated staff for holding Mr. Brennan accountable and standing up for those who unknowingly sought services and training from someone who committed fraud that endangered his students, as well as the public.”

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. Specifically, 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 admitted that on several occasions he accepted payment from students for the Security Guard Firearms courses and provided them with fraudulent completion certificates without providing the students any actual training on the safe and proper use of firearms or requiring the students to fire their weapons, as mandated by DCJS.  Therefore, many armed security guards were working among the citizens of Erie County and New York, without proper firearms training, putting the lives of officers and the public at risk. Brennan then presented the false documents to DCJS with the intent to defraud.

In another fraudulent scheme, Brennan admitted that he manipulated unknowing civilians into paying tuition and enrolling in courses at his training academy with the promise that the civilians would become certified peace officers, when Brennan knew that the courses did not meet the requirements necessary for the civilians to become certified peace officers.

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.  

Brennan’s guilty pleas are the result of an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office following a referral from the New York state DCJS, 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 and pled guilty on July 20, 2020 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 E felonies.

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.

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 was 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 and Investigator Joel Cordone assisted in the investigation. The Criminal Justice Division and the Investigations Bureau fall under the supervision of First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.