OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
JOHN F. WOOD
Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106
FEBRUARY 19, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ARKANSAS MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ILLEGALLY
POSSESSING A MACHINE GUN
DECLARED ‘DEAD’ AFTER 1980 DISAPPEARANCE, AGENTS
FOUND FIREARMS, EXPLOSIVES AT RESIDENCE
SPRINGFILED, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Fayettville, Ark., man who was declared dead when he disappeared nearly 29 years ago pleaded guilty in federal court today to illegally possessing a machine gun and to being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Robert Thomas, also known as Christian Tadlock, 61, of Fayettville, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr this morning prior to a jury trial that was scheduled to begin today in the U.S. District Court in Springfield.
Thomas, who staged his own suicide in 1982, admitted that he illegally purchased an MG-42 machine gun for $1,200 from an undercover ATF agent on Oct. 16, 2007, in Jasper County, Mo. When Thomas put the machine gun in the bed of his pickup truck he was placed under arrest. Thomas initially identified himself as Christian Tadlock to the officers and had a valid Arkansas driver’s license in that name.
Thomas was reported missing on April 16, 1980, after his vehicle was discovered on the Kentucky side of the U.S. 51 bridge over the Ohio River with a suicide note inside. Thomas was later declared dead. At the time of his disappearance, Thomas was facing prison time in the state of Illinois following his conviction for unlawful delivery of a controlled substance (LSD). He still has time to serve as a result of that state conviction.
Thomas also pleaded guilty in federal court today to being a felon in possession of a firearm, admitting that he had been convicted of the Illinois charge at the time he received the machine gun.
ATF agents executed a search warrant at Thomas’ home the day after his arrest, recovering more than 30 machine guns, 44 hand grenades, four pipe bombs, two .50-caliber rifles, silencers, thousands of rounds of ammunition and scores of other weapons. Templates for making homemade machine guns and partially completed machine guns as well as machine gun parts were also discovered.
Under federal statutes, Thomas is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $260,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Fayetteville, Ark., Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Marshals Service.
This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at