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Press Release

Former Taneytown Police Chief Sentenced to Federal Prison for the Illegal Transfer and Possession of a Machine Gun

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander today sentenced William E. Tyler, age 56, of Fairfield, Pennsylvania, to a year and a day in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for the illegal transfer and possession of a machine gun.  Tyler is the former Chief of Police in Taneytown, Maryland.  Judge Hollander also ordered that Tyler must forfeit assets obtained as a result of, or used to facilitate the commission of his illegal activities, including the two .223-caliber machine guns that he illegally transferred and possessed.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Toni Crosby of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division.

“Police officers, no matter their rank, are subject to the same laws as everyone else.  No one is above the law,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.  “William Tyler lied to fellow officers in an attempt to cover up his crime.  Now he will serve federal prison time—where there is no parole, ever.”

According to his guilty plea, in 2017 Tyler transferred two machine guns owned by and registered to the Taneytown Police Department to himself and another officer, for their personal use.  According to court documents, Tyler created documents titled a “Bill of Sale,” purporting to sell one of the machine guns to himself for $100, although records were never located to confirm any payment to the Taneytown Police Department.  Tyler did not attempt to report the transfer of the machine guns to the ATF’s National Firearms Act (NFA) Division, which is responsible for maintaining registration and transfer information about all NFA weapons in accordance with federal law, as any such transfer is illegal. 

On January 15, 2019, law enforcement executed search warrants at the residences of Tyler and the officer and recovered the machine guns.  Tyler was interviewed by the FBI and ATF, and was warned that it is a crime to make a materially false statement or representation to federal agents.  Despite the warning, Tyler lied when he told agents that he had never fired the .223-caliber machine gun recovered in his home and did not know it was automatic, when in fact he had fired the weapon, and as a trained law enforcement officer was well aware that the weapon was automatic.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI and ATF for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Derek E. Hines and Leo J. Wise, who prosecuted the case.\

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Marcia Murphy
(410) 209-4854

Updated January 28, 2020

Firearms Offenses
Public Corruption