I’m starting to wonder if supervisors in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operate in some alternate universe from the rest of the law enforcement community. The breadth of utter incompetence by ATF supervision is truly quite remarkable. So it only makes sense that ATF will be the lead enforcement and regulatory agency in President Obama’s new gun control push, right?
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that, at the urging of U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Justice Department officials are investigating George Gillett, former assistant special agent in charge of the Phoenix field office, to determine how a gun he once owned was found at the scene of a November shootout in Mexico that killed five people, including a young Mexican beauty queen. The probe will also focus on why Gillett used a false address when purchasing the weapon and why he lied about his address in two other gun purchases.
The article said that ATF was asked to trace a FN Herstal 57-caliber pistol after it was found in Mexico. The gun turned out to be one purchased by Gillett in January 2010. Also recovered near the Mexican crime scene was an AK-47 purchased by Uriel Patino, “the most prolific straw purchaser in Fast and Furious,” Grassley said in his letter to Justice officials.
Grassley’s office discovered that Gillett lied about his address three times when buying three guns in December 2009 and January 2010, prompting Grassley to write to the Justice Department’s inspector general:
Documents show the residence listed on the Firearms Transaction Record (Form 4473) for two of the gun purchases was the local Phoenix ATF office. For the third purchase, Gillett listed a commercial shopping center in Phoenix as his residence. Clearly, the addresses on the forms do not accurately and truthfully reflect Gillett’s actual residence in Phoenix.
Lying on a Form 4473 is a felony and can be punished by up to five years in prison, in addition to fines. Many individuals who were arrested in Fast and Furious were charged for lying on the Form 4473. Jaime Avila, Jr. recently plead guilty to a variety of charges, including making false statements in connection with the acquisition of a firearm, and his initial arrest just after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder was for giving a false address on Form 4473.
The ATF-issued Firearms Transaction Record Form 4473 specifically says: “I also understand that making any false oral or written statement, or exhibiting any false or misrepresented identification with respect to this transaction, is a crime punishable as a felony under Federal law, and may also violate State and/or local law. I further understand that the repetitive purchase of firearms for the purpose of resale for livelihood and profit without a Federal firearms license is a violation of law [emphasis added].”
Grassley asked the inspector general to open an investigation to “examine whether Mr. Gillett was the purchaser as indicated by these documents, why the forms list multiple, inaccurate residential addresses while purchasing the weapons, and how the weapon purchased on January 7, 2010 ended up in Mexico.”
Multiple sources have reported that Gillett admitted to owning the gun at one time, though he said he sold it in a legal online transaction in 2011 because of financial hardship.
Gillett was second in charge of ATF’s Phoenix office, where he oversaw Operation Fast and Furious from 2009 to 2010. A previous inspector general investigation “found Gillett’s supervision and judgment in Fast and Furious seriously deficient,” according to Grassley.
In case you are wondering, Gillett still has his job, though a professional review board recommended he be terminated. He has since been transferred to ATF Headquarters in Washington, D.C., the Journal reported.