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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 3, 2016

Bozeman Man Sentenced for Illegal Possession of an Unregistered Machine Gun

BILLINGS – William Kristofer Wolf, 53, of Bozeman, Montana, was sentenced today in Billings federal court for the illegal possession of an unregistered machine gun.  U.S. District Court Judge Susan Watters sentenced Wolf to 72 months incarceration and 3 years supervised release.

Wolf was indicted by a grand jury in April of last year on two counts: Illegal Possession of a Machine Gun and Possession of a Firearm not Registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.  At trial, the government introduced evidence that Wolf publicly and repeatedly expressed intent to acquire and possess dangerous weapons, including flamethrowers, incendiary ammunition, and napalm, and ultimately did acquire the sawed-off automatic shotgun that lead to his arrest.  Minutes after taking possession of the illegal firearm Wolf stated that he did not “believe in anything but extreme.”  He was convicted in November of last year following a three day jury trial.

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, politicians, and judges and stated on numerous occasions that he considered agents of local, state, and federal government to be his “targets .”  After holding a “committee of safety meeting” on January 29, 2015, Wolf stated, “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.”  Wolf tried to recruit those at the meeting to his cause telling them, “that’s why I say you don’t want me doing this because I don’t believe in doing anything that’s not extreme and right now wiping that place out, would be my extreme movement.” 

In its sentencing arguments, the government emphasized the extreme nature of Wolf’s views, and his repeatedly articulated intent to target law enforcement officials and in effect to wage a war on all branches of government.  Wolf made repeated statements about his intent to target government and law enforcement personnel: “I just need to kill the public officials,” and “all agents of the government, all judiciary, and all police officers are targets.”  Wolf believed that law enforcement officials at every level of government had committed “constitutional violations” and that he was therefore justified in using any means necessary to “restore our constitutional republic.”  Wolf did not retreat from these views in his trial testimony or attempt to deny his ultimate intent to harm government and law enforcement officials.

Emphasizing the extreme nature of Wolf’s views, coupled with the concrete steps he took to put his violent plans into action, the government argued that the criminal sentencing guidelines did not adequately reflect the gravity of his crime and the danger he poses to society.  Taking these factors into account, the government urged the court to impose a sentence greater than that indicated by the guidelines.  The government argued that Wolf’s actions in obtaining the machine gun were merely a step towards committing other offenses, including assault on law enforcement officers and arson.  .

The government also argued that Wolf’s lack of prior criminal history was not indicative of his risk to society, given the extreme nature of his views and his articulated intent to commit mass acts of violence.  As evidence of this intent, the government cited at least 24 instances in which Wolf stated his intent to kill someone or engage in acts that would bring about deaths or serious injuries.

“The sentence in this case sends a strong message to those, like Mr. Wolf, who seek to wage a violent war not only against the government but against society as a whole,” said Montana U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter.  “It should serve as a deterrent to others who would follow his lead and choose to espouse anarchy and violence.  The FBI is to be commended for its thorough work of investigating Mr. Wolf and ultimately helping to bring him to justice.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Whittaker and Danya Atiyeh, Trial Attorney, from the Counterterrorism Section, National Security Division, of the United States Department of Justice.  The case was investigated by the FBI.

MELISSA HORNBEIN, Public Information Officer, (406) 457-5277
Topic: 
Counterterrorism
Updated March 3, 2016