BILLINGS — An anti-government activist on trial in Montana “talked a lot” about plans to acquire flamethrowers and other weapons supposedly to take on authorities, but never acted until he was befriended by an FBI informant and an undercover agent who said he could provide such weaponry, a defense attorney said Tuesday.
Defense attorney Mark Werner challenged the prosecution’s case against William Krisstofer Wolf as the Gallatin County man’s trial on federal weapons charges entered its second day.
Werner argued that Wolf, 52, was entrapped by authorities, after being induced into buying a high-powered automatic shotgun by the undercover FBI agent and the paid informant, both of who had expressed sympathy with Wolf’s extreme views.
During a cross-examination of a second FBI agent, Werner suggested that prior to Wolf’s arrest his anti-government activities largely were limited to talk on his webcast, The Montana Republic.
FBI Special Agent Matthew Deurmeier agreed that Wolf “talked a lot” about an upcoming conflict between the United States government’s and its citizens, but never specified his intended targets for the flamethrower and other weapons he planned to attain.
“He can do that, he can advocate as other people and hold his own political beliefs about the government?” Werner asked Deurmeier, to which the FBI agent replied, “Yes, sir.”
Deurmeier also acknowledged under questioning from the defense that it’s not illegal under federal firearms regulations to have a flamethrower.
But the agent added that Wolf’s statements about using a flamethrower as a “mass casualty weapon” against law enforcement stirred serious concern, and that Wolf’s rhetoric continued to build throughout the government’s months-long investigation into his activities.
Wolf is charged with possession of a machine gun — in this case, the automatic shotgun — and failing to register a weapon as required under federal law. He faces up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the machine gun charge.
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