VINELAND — A former city police officer was sentenced to five years in state prison Wednesday for possessing assault rifles and illegal ammunition magazines, state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said in a statement.

The sentencing of Brian Hinkel, 62, of Newfield, Gloucester County, ended a case that began when authorities took ammunition and almost 260 guns from his property in January 2009.

Authorities said State Police went to Hinkel’s home to questions him in connection with a theft investigation. Authorities said they would have never searched his property and found the weapons and ammunition had Hinkel cooperated with the investigation and not reached for a loaded gun.

However, State Police said Hinkel’s action prompted authorities to search his property and find guns in Hinkel’s house, along with in trailers, shacks and other structures. Some of the weapons had folding stocks consistent with assault weapons, State Police said.

According to Chiesa’s statement, Hinkel pleaded guilty to four counts of possession of an assault rifle and 21 counts of possession of a prohibited device. Hinkel admitted to illegally possessing 21 large-capacity magazines for semi-automatic rifles and four assault rifles, the statement reads.

Hinkel was sentenced by Superior Court Judge M. Christine Allen-Jackson in Gloucester County.

Authorities said Hinkel worked for the Vineland Police Department from 1973 until he left the force on a disability pension in October 1986.

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