Machine Gun Loving Police Chief Indicted

Adair Police Department patch
Adair Police Department

ATF Accuses Police Chief of Lying

(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.” The City of Adair only has about 800 residents. Their police force consists of three officers and the police chief. The police department is so small that it’s basically a desk in City Hall.

The indictment states that Wendt made false statements to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). “‘Brad Wendt is charged with exploiting his position as chief of police to unlawfully obtain and sell guns for his own personal profit,’ Eugene Kowel, a senior FBI agent based in Omaha, said in a statement.”

U.S. Attorney Press Release

The United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Iowa, put out a detailed press release. Below are excerpts. The full press release can be found here.

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.

The press release also states:

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.

What was Bradley Wendt Doing?

Chief Wendt is accused of writing false “law letters.” They are official letters that contained his justification for needing approval to receive those guns for his police department. He is accused of selling guns he purchased (that are not legal for the general public), to enrich himself. Chief Wendt  is also accused of asking for guns to be loaned to the department for demonstration purposes. The demonstrations were under the pretext that the police department was considering buying them. Instead, Chief Wendt is accused of taking those guns to his gun store and letting people shoot them for a fee. Another way he supposedly enriched himself.

Police Chief Wanted a Helicopter Machine Gun

ATF agents knew Adair is a small town. The requests for machine guns had already brought their attention to Chief Wendt. But even if the machine gun requests hadn’t, his continued requests for a helicopter machine gun would have.

Des Moines Register,

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

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

No doubt selling that M134 would have brought a hefty profit for Wendt.

Defense Attorney Says Actions were Not for “Personal Benefit”

The Daily Beast was able to speak with Bradley Wendt and his attorney, Nick Klinefeldt. Wendt’s attorney has  stated that Chief Wendt was “trying to do right by his neighbors.”

“Mr. Wendt’s purpose here was not to provide a personal benefit to himself or anyone else. He is a trained police officer and firearms instructor, as well as a Federal Firearms Licensee, and only sought to benefit his community,” his lawyer, Nick Klinefeldt, told The Daily Beast.

In the article, Wendt’s attorney goes on for quite a bit saying everything was approved by the ATF, which seems unlikely. The Daily Beast didn’t let him distract them.

The lawyer did not respond to a follow-up request for clarification about how, exactly, Wendt obtaining and demonstrating the use of military-style weapons would benefit the residents of Adair.

Bradley Wendt

Chief Wendt is 46 years old. He owns two gun stores; one in Denison and the other in Anita. The indictment contains twenty charges against him. The first is Conspiracy to Make a False Statement to and Defraud the ATF. That is followed by eighteen different charges of False Statement. The final charge in the indictment is for Illegal Possession of a Machine Gun.

Chief Wendt has been placed on paid administrative leave. His attorney says Wendt will plead not guilty. Wendt stated, “he ‘certainly’ hopes he can keep his job as the top cop in Adair.” 

Wendt won a $600,000 settlement against a previous law enforcement agency that fired him. That may have made him feel like he can beat any accusations. I don’t think he’ll be as lucky this time.

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