A former volunteer for the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office is under investigation, and accused of building and selling ghost guns — with parts he allegedly obtained from the sheriff’s gun range.  

Ghost guns are privately assembled firearms that are untraceable. 

The investigation was triggered by the volunteer’s own wife, who says she tried multiple times to report him. 

“I didn’t know the exact count [of guns] until the DA’s office opened the safes. There were 132,” the volunteer’s wife D’et King told KRON4.

Ghost gun allegations against volunteer

Being in possession of 132 firearms is not a crime, that is, unless some of those firearms are ghost guns. And that is just one of the allegations against former Contra Costa County Sheriff’s volunteer John King.      

“Well, John King is, or was, a volunteer with the Contra Costa Sheriff’s office,” explained Ted Asregadoo, a spokesperson with the Contra Costa County DA’s Office. “He is a resident of Clayton. Federal, and state authorities had seized 132 guns, ammunition, and a kit or kits, used in the making of ghost guns. The possession of the weapons were illegal, and the manufacturing of the weapons were also illegal.”     

Selling ‘ghost guns’ is also a crime — and that is among the allegations listed in the search warrant obtained by KRON4. It alleges John King “would then transfer and sell these weapons to civilians and sworn members of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office.”    

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The names of the people the guns were allegedly sold to are not specified in the warrant. What is specified is how John King allegedly got his hands on gun parts, weapons and ammunition magazines.

“He had full access to everything, guns, parts, ammo,” said King’s wife, D’et. 

“Extremely troubling” allegations against King

 Attorney Michael Cardoza is legal counsel for King. He says these allegations are extremely troubling for the Contra Costa Sheriff. 

“Sheriff, do you allow this to go on, where you just put parts out there and you allow a volunteer to take parts, and when he wants to make weapons?” said Cardoza. “If he is, you just allow that to happen? you don’t track that? That’s frightening to me.”

Also troubling, Cardoza says, is the lack of investigation on the part of the sheriff’s office.   

D’et Kings says she tried multiple times to alert the Contra Costa County Sheriff about her husband’s weapons shortly after filing for divorce on New Year’s Day 2020. On Jan. 29, 2020, she says three members of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office came to her home to investigate – but no action was taken.  

Then, on Aug. 3, 2020 D’et King sent an email follow-up directly to the Contra Costa County Sheriff.   

The email read in part:

“To this date I have not heard from your department regarding this matter…as a courtesy to you and your department I wanted to reach out to you personally as I am not sure if you are aware of the depths of this situation”   

“I never heard another word,” said D’et King.

A breakthrough in the investigation

Throughout 2021, D’et King says her divorce proceedings continued, and she continued to try and bring attention to her husband’s weapons. Then, in January of this year, as part of the divorce process. Clayton police came to the Kings’ home to supervise an inventory of items.

During the visit, officers discovered high-capacity magazines. Photos provided by D’et King appear to show police collecting the illegal magazines from the couple’s garage… but once again…she says no action was taken.   

“And I never heard back from Clayton PD,” she said.

According to documents obtained by KRON4, John King told police he had owned the high-capacity magazines for years – and purchased them at a time when they were legal. Although the high-capacity magazines were confiscated, no arrest was made and no charges were filed. 

When contacted, Clayton police declined to comment – citing the district attorney’s now ongoing investigation. 

“Why did she have to push so hard? Why does she have to push the sheriff’s department, number one, to begin the investigation?” said Cardoza.  

Just days after the visit from Clayton police – nearly two years after filing her first report –  D’et King’s push resulted in the action she was seeking. 

After directly contacting the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office —  an inspector was sent to her home —  a visit that has now led to a full criminal investigation.  

“This is important because there’s so much gun violence out there with people getting away with it,” King said. “I want the right thing to happen. I want for my children to be safe, for the community to be safe. Society. Anybody. Any woman that has gone through this, I hope it gives them the strength to move forward.”

The Contra Costa DA’s office says John King’s alleged involvement with manufacturing and selling ghost guns remains under investigation.

So far, no criminal charges have been filed. KRON4 reached out to John King’s attorney and did not receive a response. We also reached out to the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department who declined to comment due to the district attorney office’s ongoing investigation.