July 18, 2024

Adair Police Chief sentenced to 60 Months in federal prison

Sentenced for fraud, false statements and firearm charges

DES MOINES – The Adair Police Chief was sentenced yesterday to 60 months in federal prison for conspiring to make false statements to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), making false statements to the ATF and illegal possession of a machine gun.

According to public court documents and evidence presented at trial and sentencing, since July 2018, Bradley Eugene Wendt, 47, has been the Chief of Police for Adair. He is also the owner of BW Outfitters, a federal firearms licensee in Denison. Evidence at trial showed that, between July 2018 and August 2022, Wendt used his position as Chief of Police to obtain machine guns for his own personal use and profit, including to buy machine guns for his own store.

Generally, machine guns made after May 1986 are illegal to transfer and possess. But law enforcement agencies can buy machine guns for their official use and an authorized dealer can get machine guns to demonstrate to a police department for the department’s future possible purchase. If a police department wants to purchase or receive a demonstration of a machine gun, it can submit a letter to ATF, referred to as a “law letter,” expressing its need for and interest in the machine gun.

Between July 2018 and August 2022, Wendt wrote nearly 40 law letters, requesting the purchase or demonstration of 90 machine guns for the Adair Police Department. In the law letters to purchase machine guns for his two-man department, Wendt said he was buying the machine guns for the official use of his department and was not getting the machine guns for resale. In the law letters requesting demonstrations of machine guns, Wendt said the Adair Police Department wanted a demonstration for the department’s future possible purchase of the requested machine guns.

A jury found that Wendt made false statements in several of the law letters, convicting him of one count of conspiracy to make false statements to the ATF and eight counts of making a false statement to the ATF. Evidence at trial showed that Wendt purchased machine guns for the Adair Police Department, but later resold those machine guns at a personal profit of nearly $80,000. The evidence also showed Wendt used demonstration law letters to purchase machine guns for his own gun store, BW Outfitters, including a .50 caliber machine gun called a “Ma Deuce,” which he immediately mounted to his personally owned armored Humvee.

Wendt was also convicted of one count of illegal possession of a machine gun, based on his personal possession of a belt-fed, M60 machine gun registered to the Adair Police Department. Wendt, along with his gun store BW Outfitters, hosted a machine gun shoot in April 2022, where he charged the public to shoot machine guns, including several registered to the Adair Police Department. The jury found Wendt was not acting within the scope of his official duties when he possessed the M60 machine gun.

Wendt was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine. After completing his term of imprisonment, Wendt will be required to serve a three-year term of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

FBI Omaha Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel said “We expect law enforcement officers to uphold their oath to protect and serve our communities. Instead, Brad Wendt broke the law and betrayed the community by unlawfully obtaining and selling firearms for his own personal profit. The FBI remains steadfast in aggressively investigating and bringing to justice those who misuse their authority for personal gain.”

“Wendt was held accountable for committing a betrayal of the public’s trust by engaging in this machine gun trafficking scheme for personal gain,” stated Gordon N. Mallory, acting special agent in charge of ATF’s Kansas City division. “This sentence sends a loud message to anyone in public service: if they betray their oath of office and their responsibility to their community, they will be held accountable.”

United States Attorney Richard D. Westphal of the Southern District of Iowa, the ATF and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) made the announcement. “At its core this case was about false statements, driven by the personal ambition of man who saw his badge as a means to an end, rather than a calling.,” stated U.S. Attorney Richard Westphal, “Thank you to our dedicated law enforcement partners at FBI and ATF, and a hard-working prosecution team for pursuing a challenging case and holding Brad Wendt accountable.” This case was investigated by ATF and FBI, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mikaela Shotwell, Shai Gonzales and Ryan Leemkuil.