Fake ATF agent arrested by real ATF agents, feds say

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — Convicted sex offender Christopher Proe pretended he was an ATF agent, according to federal prosecutors. On Thursday, he was arrested by real ones.

The case against the 36-year-old Redford Township man is outlined in a criminal complaint filled with details about tin shields, pseudonyms, phony uniforms and incriminating selfies.

Christopher Proe

The investigation started last month when an informant said a man named "Chris Conley" was impersonating an ATF agent and carrying a Smith & Wesson pistol, according to an affidavit written by ATF Special Agent Justin Henry. Conley was telling people he worked undercover and was an ATF supervisor in Detroit.

The informant said Conley "is typically wearing an ATF badge around his neck or belt, while simultaneously carrying a police radio, handcuffs and firearm," Henry wrote in a search warrant affidavit obtained by The Detroit News.

The informant also gave investigators a photo of "Chris Conley," and ATF agents soon  learned his true identity after consulting with other law enforcement personnel. Though details were not available Thursday, the photo of "Chris Conley" resembles Proe's mugshot filed with the Michigan Sex Offender Registry.

Another informant told investigators "Chris Conley" was one of Proe's aliases and they had seen him carrying the firearm in a holster, according to the search warrant affidavit.

"Proe has detained people before using ATF authority," a third informant told investigators.

Proe is not allowed to possess a firearm. That is because he is a serial felon with convictions for a weapons crime, conspiracy to defraud the government, false pretenses and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to the federal court complaint. 

Federal agents raided this home Thursday in Redford Township.

ATF agents found Proe at his girlfriend's Redford Township home Thursday morning. After knocking several times and then breaching the front door, agents arrested Proe and found the loaded pistol, a replica ATF badge and ammunition hidden in the rafters of the garage, according to the affidavit.

The pistol was reported stolen from Eastpointe.

Then, investigators searched his red Ford F-150 truck. Inside, they found more ammunition and clothing. The clothing resembled a police battle dress uniform.

ATF agents seized a stolen pistol, replica ATF badge and ammunition during an early-morning raid in Redford Township that led to the arrest of convicted sex offender Christopher Proe.

Proe told investigators he impersonated an ATF agent, according to the affidavit, but there were no additional details about what, if anything, he did while posing as a federal agent.

Proe was ordered held temporarily without bond pending a hearing Friday in federal court. His court-appointed lawyer could not be reached for comment immediately Thursday.

rsnell@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @robertsnellnews