DENVER (CBS4) — Thirty-five-year-old Jennifer Scoggin of El Paso County was sentenced for her role in the theft of dozens of firearms from her former father-in-law’s well-known gun facility.
A judge sentenced Scoggin to 26 months in federal prison Wednesday. The sentence included an additional three years of supervision after her release.
Scoggin, according to the plea agreement, masterminded the plan to burglarize the Dragon Arms gun store located near her residence in El Paso County.
Dragon Arms is owned by her former father-in-law, Mel “Dragonman” Bernstein. Bernstein told CBS4 that Scoggin often “helped out” at the business prior to the incident.
In August of 2017, Scoggin called Bernstein and encouraged him to drive the two to dinner in nearby Falcon. Bernstein had divorced Scoggin’s mother two years prior but was letting his former daughter-in-law stay in a home he had purchased for his ex-wife that was located across from his own property.
“She couldn’t pay any bills in that house I paid for,” Bernstein said Saturday. He accused Scoggin of having drug problems at the time.
Scoggin drove her car to the rear of the Bernstein’s business to meet him. Hiding inside her car, under blankets, were her 18-year-old son, Camron Specht, and three of her son’s friends.
“They came out of her station wagon as soon as we left,” Bernstein said.
Among numerous security measures, Bernstein’s business boasts 26 cameras.
Specht, Ryan Sharpe, Gian Carlos Vance and a unnamed juvenile used one of Bernstein’s pickup trucks to bash through a fence and into a garage door at the rear of the business. Once inside, they began stealing handguns, shotguns and rifles.
Scoggin, while at dinner with Bernstein, was in contact with them throughout the raid.
“All the time, she’s texting on her phone,” Bernstein said. She told him she was communicating with her husband in another state.
After dinner, Scoggin lured Bernstein into shopping at a nearby box store, giving the four men time to take the stolen weapons to her residence, unload, and return to Dragon Arms for another take.
When Scoggin and Bernstein returned from their dinner outing, Bernstein said, Scoggin said good-bye and got into her car “like nothing happened.”
She was arrested later that night at her residence by federal agents. The guns, at least 57 in all, were eventually recovered.
“Scoggin’s criminal actions posed a threat to our society,” said ATF Denver Special Agent in Charge Debbie Livingston.
Bernstein believes Scoggin intended to sell the weapon to gang members in Pueblo.
“Imagine if those guns had been used to kill somebody,” he told the Colorado Springs Gazette following the group’s indictments.
Federal authorities wrestled with several gun store thefts across the Front Range and state in 2017. Scoggin and her accomplices were among 16 people charged at one point.
Specht, Sharpe and Vance were all sentenced to time served, according to prosecutors, as well as the same three-year supervised release that Scoggin received.
Bernstein has not been given the stolen guns that were kept by federal authorities as evidence, but has been told he may get them back next week.
“The average gun store would have been out of business” after losing that inventory, he said.
Bernstein’s facility suffered only one other attempted break-in since it opened in 1982 — and that also came at the hands of a former family member.
Thirty-one-year-old Jesse Specht has been charged with 2nd Degree Burglary for that incident that occurred several months prior to Scoggin’s operation. He has warrants out for his arrest after not showing up for court.
Bernstein said Jesse Specht is Scoggin’s brother.
Bernstein famously offered to give away free AR-15 semi-automatic rifles to rabbis following the October 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in which 11 people were killed.
But his generosity shrinks dramatically in consideration of crime’s perpetrators.
And former family.
“I learned a big lesson,” he said. “That family cost me a lot of money. Very, very bad people.”