Adair, Ia., Police Chief Bradley Wendt was indicted 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 had more than three officers, reports the Des Moines Register. Instead, according to prosecutors, weapons were resold for profit through Wendt's private gun store or another store owned by Robert Williams, a friend who also is facing charges. According to court filings and the U.S. Attorney's Office, Wendt used his position as police chief to obtain 10 machine guns for the official use of the police department, but later resold at least six of those weapons for "significant profit." In addition, Wendt obtained 13 guns for his Dennison- and Anita-based gun store, BW Outfitters, under the pretense they were to be used as demonstration models for potential future purchases by the department. Another 10 weapons were obtained in the same manner for Williams Contracting, a federally licensed firearms dealer.
Prosecutors say Wendt sought to purchase or demonstrate approximately 90 machine guns between July 2018 and August 2022. Some were used for public machine gun shoots, 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 machine gun, a belt-fed weapon widely used by the U.S. military since the Vietnam War that was purportedly obtained for official use by the Adair Police Department. Wendt 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. At least some of the weapons purportedly obtained for the police department were bought with Wendt's personal funds, and it is not clear if city money was involved. Wendt is charged with 18 counts of making a false statement to the ATF and one for unlawfully possessing a machine gun. Williams is charged with three counts of false statements and with aiding and abetting. Prosecutors are also seeking forfeiture of at least 35 machine guns involved in the case. "Brad Wendt is charged with exploiting his position as chief of police to unlawfully obtain and sell guns for his own personal profit," said FBI agent Eugene Kowel. Wendt was put on leave by the city in September after federal agents raided his gun stores and his City Hall offices.