Sweet Home ex-convict may face more prison time over firearms

Audrey Gomez

Allen Maurice Diggs of Sweet Home may face more time in prison if he is convicted on charges of felon in possession of a firearm.

He was arrested last week after a SWAT team raid in the Liberty area.

Diggs, 73, has served time for a variety of crimes, including solicitation to commit aggravated murder and shooting and killing a dog, both in the 1990s.

His past came to the attention of the Sheriff’s Office after a deputy stopped him on Nov. 6 on Quartzville Road, said Linn County Sheriff Bruce Riley. Diggs was in possession of “several firearms” at the time, Riley said.

Upon further investigation and a criminal history check, it was confirmed that Diggs, who has a criminal record, is restricted from possessing firearms. A search warrant was obtained to search and seize any weapons in Diggs’ possession, Riley said. The Linn County Regional SWAT Team began the search about 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5, at Diggs’ residence, 39636 Mountain Home Drive, midway between Scott Mountain and Kingsbury roads.

The SWAT Team was there for three hours. Diggs was not combative and was arrested without incident, Sheriff’s officials said. Riley said several adults and children, in addition to Diggs, were present at the time the search warrant was served.

Firearms were seized during the investigation, including a .38 caliber revolver, a .44 caliber black powder pistol, a .45 caliber black powder rifle, a .270 caliber rifle, a .357 revolver and two .22 caliber rifles. Also seized were approximately 1,000 rounds of ammunition of various calibers, Riley said.

LCSO has not run a check on the weapons through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Riley said. Those checks are often run at the request of the District Attorney.

Diggs was arrested for six counts of felon in possession of a firearm and lodged at Linn County Jail on Jan. 5. He was released the next day. Among the conditions of the conditional release is that he will not possess or use any firearms.

The New Era contacted one of the victims of the crimes in the 1990s, who, upon hearing of Diggs’ release, said she is fearful.

According to court documents, the state intends to seek an enhanced sentence if Diggs is convicted on the firearm possession charges.

Deputy District Attorney Richard Wijers filed the notice on Jan. 6, 2016, stating that the degree of loss or harm in Diggs’ case is “significantly greater than typical for such offense” and “the defendant’s criminal history, history of supervision, and history of incarceration show that future efforts to rehabilitate defendant will not be successful, and that substantial incarceration is necessary to protect the public.”

“We’re alleging him to be a felon several times over,” Wijers said.

In 1995, Diggs was convicted in Linn County District Court of first-degree animal abuse for shooting and killing a dog, and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm, incidents that occurred in Sweet Home.

In 1997, while he was incarcerated, he was convicted in Marion County Court on four counts of solicitation to commit aggravated murder.

According to court documents, he solicited a fellow inmate to murder two witnesses who testified against him in the animal abuse case. The other two counts were for solicitation to kill the witnesses’ two children.

The Associated Press reported in March 1997 that the former inmate testified “that Diggs offered him $1,000 and his motorcycle to kill the family. He said Diggs gave him a map and floor plan of the family’s house, noting a door usually kept unlocked,” according to the article.

Diggs was sentenced to 20 years and eight months in prison. He appealed the conviction, but his appeal was dismissed.

Diggs was released from prison in February of 2009.

It is unknown how long Diggs has been in Sweet Home since his release but, according to court documents he was cited in 2010 for violation of the open container in a motor vehicle law and failure to maintain a lane. The 2010 court documents list a Sweet Home address.

Newly filed documents showed Diggs cited Monday, Jan. 11, for driving uninsured and driving while suspended.

Diggs does not own the Sweet Home residence where the search warrant was served on Jan. 6.

“He was staying with the people there,” Riley said. “That’s my understanding.”

Riley said the two-month delay between the traffic stop in November and the search warrant is uncommon, but was due in part to the deputy’s work schedule.

He said that during traffic stops such as the one the deputy made in November on Diggs in Quartzville, the Sheriff’s Office’s check does not state criminal history, only warrants or if the person is wanted.

“(He) didn’t run the criminal history record until later,” Riley said. “When we find people with firearms, we’ll run that.”

At the time of the stop, the deputy was not concerned that Diggs would leave the area, Riley said.

“Because he is local, we knew he wasn’t going to be going anywhere,” Riley said.

He said part of the reason for the delay is that the deputy went on vacation.

Once he returned the “deputy did good follow-up,” Riley added.

Upon further investigation and a criminal history check, LCSO confirmed that Diggs is restricted from possessing firearms, Riley said.

Diggs is due for a court appearance on Feb. 8.