Milwaukee man gets 5 years in undercover ATF sting
26-year-old sold guns to federal agents
A Milwaukee man convicted after selling more than two dozen guns to undercover agents has been sentenced to five years in prison.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported 26-year-old Brandon Gladney was sentenced Friday. Gladney can't have a gun because of a juvenile armed burglary conviction, but court records show he likely made thousands of dollars by selling the guns, some of which came from retail stores or private Internet sellers.
Court record show U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents bought a total of 28 guns from Gladney in 13 transactions as part of a sting called Operation Fearless, an undercover gun- and drug-buying operation run out of a Milwaukee storefront.
The Journal Sentinel found the operation had many problems. Among them, agents paid high prices for the weapons, which encouraged people to buy guns from stores resell them at a profit. The Journal Sentinel also found agents hired a brain-damaged man to set up gun and drug deals, paying him in cigarettes, merchandise and cash before arresting him. In addition, three government-owned guns and $40,000 in merchandise were stolen.
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge J.D. Watts said Friday he doubted such an operation should be replicated.
"I can only hope that the people in charge of the ATF learn something here," Watts said.
Defense attorney Charles Glynn said after Gladney's first sale, agents peppered his phone with hundreds of text messages looking for guns.
The goal of the ATF sting was "to get guns off the street," Assistant District Attorney Karen Loebel said. When asked why agents would buy from someone like Gladney time and time again, Loebel said agents had to ensure guns brought in by a felon did not "walk out."
"If a prohibited person walks into law enforcement with an illegal gun — and it's illegal because he has it — law enforcement can't let him walk back out again," Loebel said. "That would be improper and irresponsible."
Members of Congress have demanded information about what went wrong with Operation Fearless, but so far the ATF has refused to release its internal investigation into the matter.
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