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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 15, 2022

Adair Chief of Police Charged with Getting Machine Guns Through False Statements to the ATF

DES MOINES, IA – A federal grand jury in Des Moines returned an indictment on December 14, 2022, charging Adair Chief of Police Bradley Wendt with unlawfully obtaining and possessing machine guns.

According to unsealed court documents, Wendt, age 46, exploited his position as the Adair Chief of Police to acquire 10 machine guns purportedly for the official duties and responsibilities of the Adair Police Department, but later resold several of those machine guns at a significant profit.  Wendt also acquired 13 machine guns for his Denison-based gun store, BW Outfitters, through false statements to the ATF that the machine guns were being demonstrated for future potential purchase by the Adair Police Department.

Wendt also exploited his position as the Chief of Police to obtain 10 machine guns for Williams Contracting LLC, a federal firearms licensee operated by his friend, Robert Williams, age 46, of Manning. Williams solicited false documentation from Wendt indicating the Adair Police Department wanted a demonstration of each of the machine guns for future potential purchase by the Adair Police Department.

Between July 2018 and August 2022, Wendt sought to demonstrate or purchase approximately 90 machine guns for the Adair Police Department, which serves a town of less than 800 people.  Wendt and Williams hosted public machine gun shoots, where they charged patrons money to shoot machine guns registered to their gun stores and the Adair Police Department. Wendt and Williams intended to stockpile machine guns to later sell at a personal profit.

FBI Omaha Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel said “Brad Wendt is charged with exploiting his position as chief of police to unlawfully obtain and sell guns for his own personal profit. The FBI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate and hold accountable those who violate their oath of office to enrich themselves.”

“This case demonstrates the importance of ATF’s vigilance in regulating federal firearms licensees and bringing to justice those who willfully circumvent federal law in favor of personal profit and abuse public trust. Today’s indictment is the result of seamless collaboration by ATF and our law enforcement partners,” said Fred Winston, Special Agent in Charge, ATF - Kansas City Field Division.

Both defendants are charged with conspiracy to make false statements and defraud the ATF.  Wendt is charged with 18 counts of making a false statement to the ATF and one count of illegal possession of a machine gun. Williams is charged with three counts of making a false statement and aiding and abetting a false statement to the ATF. The Indictment is attached below.

If convicted, Wendt faces a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years. Williams faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.

The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The investigation remains ongoing.

U.S. Attorney Richard D. Westphal of the Southern District of Iowa made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mikaela Shotwell and Ryan Leemkuil are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Public Corruption
Firearms Offenses
Contact: 
MacKenzie Tubbs Public Information Officer 515-473-9300 USAIAS.PAO@usdoj.gov
Updated December 15, 2022