Small town Iowa police chief accused of lying to ATF to get 90 machine guns for a department with 3 officers –

A small Iowa town of 800 probably doesn’t need a police force armed with 90 machine guns to keep the peace.

That, at least, is the view of federal prosecutors, who on Wednesday announced the indictment of Adair Police Chief Bradley Wendt on charges of making false statements to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to obtain numerous machine guns over a four-year period on behalf of the Adair Police Department, which during Wendt’s tenure has never owned more than three officers.

Instead, according to prosecutors, the guns were resold for a profit through Wendt’s private gun shop or another shop owned by a friend who is also facing charges.

According to court documents and a press release from the United States Attorney’s OfficeWendt used his position as police chief to obtain 10 machine guns for the police department’s official use, but later resold at least six of those weapons for “significant profit.”

In addition, Wendt obtained 13 pistols for his Dennison and Anita-based gun store BW Outfitters, under the pretense that they were to be used as demo models for possible future purchases by the department. Another 10 guns were obtained in the same way for Williams Contracting, a business owned by Williams that is federally licensed as a firearms dealer.

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Prosecutors say Wendt sought to purchase or demonstrate approximately 90 machine guns between July 2018 and August 2022. Some of the weapons were used for public machine gun shootings, where Wendt and Williams charged customers money to be able to fire the weapons.

The indictment describes the firearms as fully automatic weapons not legally available to the public, including an M60 submachine gun, a belt-fed weapon widely used by the US military since the Vietnam War that was allegedly obtained for official use by the Adair Police Department.

Instead, Wendt had the M60 mounted on his personally owned armored Humvee.

Helicopter ammunition for non-helicopter department.

Wendt also repeatedly sought to obtain for the department an M134 rotary machine gun capable of firing 50 rounds per second, usually mounted on military helicopters. ATF denied the requested transfer.

“The Adair Police Department does not own a helicopter,” the indictment states.

At least some of the weapons allegedly obtained for the police department were purchased with Wendt’s personal funds, and it is unclear if any money from the city was involved in the purchases.

Luke Zemaitis checks out an M134 Minigun as he tours a Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter during the AirVenture Experimental Aircraft Association Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Attendance at AirVenture has been up for years after the EAA canceled AirVenture 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tork Mason/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Wendt is charged with 18 counts of making a false statement to ATF and one count of unlawful possession of a machine gun. Williams is charged with three counts of false statement and aiding and abetting. Prosecutors are also seeking the seizure of at least 35 machine guns involved in the case.

“Brad Wendt stands accused of exploiting his position as police chief to illegally obtain and sell weapons for his own personal gain,” Eugene Kowel, a senior Omaha-based FBI agent, said in a statement. “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.”

Wendt was furloughed by the city in September after federal agents raided his gun stores and city hall offices. It is not clear if he is still employed by the city, which he did not return by email seeking comment. A phone number listed for the city clerk could not be connected.

The case against Wendt and Williams was not yet listed in online court records as of Thursday afternoon, and it is unclear if either has an attorney currently representing them.

William Morris covers the courts for the Des Moines Registry. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @DMRMorris.

This article originally appeared in the Des Moines Register: Iowa Police Chief Accused of Lying to ATF to Obtain 90 Machine Guns

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