Bozeman Man Convicted of Illegal Possession of an Un-Registered Machine Gun
BILLINGS – Following a three day federal trial, a Montana jury found William Krisstofer Wolf, 53, of Bozeman, guilty on two counts: Illegal Possession of a Machine Gun and Possession of a Firearm not Registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. Judge Susan Watters presided over the trial. Sentencing is set for March 3, 2016.
At trial, the government introduced evidence that Wolf had repeatedly expressed an intent to acquire and possess dangerous weapons, including flamethrowers, incendiary ammunition, and napalm, and ultimately did acquire the fully automatic sawed-off shotgun that lead to his arrest.
In his weekly online radio show, named “The Montana Republic,” Wolf discussed his anti-government views and his plans to overthrow local, state, and federal governments by force. He advocated the affirmative targeting of law enforcement officers and stated on numerous occasions that he considered agents of local, state, and federal government to be the enemies. After holding a “committee of safety meeting” on January 29, 2015, Wolf stated in his “extreme movement…my preferred method would be to drop 500 pounds of napalm through the roof of the courthouse and burn it to the ground and roast some marshmallows on it.” He also told people at the meeting, that “my great fatal flaw is I’m gonna’ tell you what I’m going to do to you, and the bottom line is, I do it to you.”
In pursuance of his aims, Wolf stated his intent to acquire the “most devastating weapons he could use” including machine guns and flamethrowers. The FBI arranged for Wolf to meet a Confidential Informant (“CI”), who posed as a like-minded individual in order to determine Wolf’s true intentions. Over time, Wolf communicated to the CI his desire to obtain or build a “blowtorch gun” or flamethrower which could be used to target law enforcement officials and vehicles including the Bozeman Police Department’s recently acquired BearCat vehicle. Wolf agreed to be introduced to a friend of the CI who could help him obtain these items. The CI’s “friend” was actually an undercover FBI agent known only to Wolf as “Dirty.” During his discussions with both the CI and Dirty, Wolf demonstrated his knowledge of flamethrowers, how to make napalm, and fully automatic weapons, including his ability to describe in detail the merits and functionality of such weapons. Dirty offered to help Wolf procure a flamethrower; Wolf responded, “try to get me a Russian automatic shotgun too.” During a subsequent meeting with Dirty, Wolf stated his preference for the Saiga 12 fully automatic shotgun. Wolf also told Dirty that any fully automatic shotgun “will handle most riot crowds and cops.” When Dirty told Wolf that there would be “no paper” with the sale, Wolf replied, “I love that.” Wolf later sent a text message to the CI that he wanted a military-grade (sawed off) barrel on the machine gun he had previously requested from Dirty.
The FBI obtained a Saiga 12 by modifying a semi-automatic shotgun with a standard barrel to the specifications requested by Wolf. The FBI agent made a video demonstrating the fully automatic capabilities of the gun and forwarded it to the CI. The CI showed Wolf the video. The CI told Wolf he would have to pay an additional $125 for the conversion to fully automatic. Wolf readily agreed. Wolf communicated to the CI that he intended to build a flamethrower to mount under the barrel of the shotgun and observed that the shortened barrel was ideal for this purpose. Wolf stated, “the purpose of the gun is not to go hunting with, it’s to clean house.” Wolf agreed to purchase the gun. On March 25, 2015, Wolf met the FBI agent at a truck stop in Livingston, Montana. The agent communicated to Wolf that the weapon had been modified from semi-automatic to fully automatic, which Wolf acknowledged. Minutes before taking possession of the machine gun, Wolf told the agent, “I just need to kill the public officials.” The FBI agent also told Wolf that the weapon was an illegal firearm. Undeterred, Wolf paid the agent and transferred the firearm to his vehicle, at which point he was arrested by the FBI.
At trial, the government used a combination of Wolf’s recorded radio show, excerpts of his conversations with the CI and undercover FBI agent, and post-arrest recordings to demonstrate to the jury that Wolf was aware of the features of the gun that brought it within the scope of the statute requiring registration.
“The members of this Montana jury have sent a strong message that those, like Mr. Wolf, who seek anarchy and violence, and who willingly break federal firearms laws will not be tolerated in Montana,” said Montana U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter. “The agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation are to be commended for their diligent work and effort in this investigation.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Whittaker and Trial Attorney Danya Atiyeh, from the Counterterrorism Section, National Security Division, of the United States Department of Justice. The case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.