Prosecutors seek stiff sentence for anti-U.S. activist

Matthew Brown
Associated Press

Billings, Mont. — An anti-government activist from Montana faces sentencing in federal court on Thursday after being convicted of seeking out high-powered weaponry, which prosecutors say he wanted for an anticipated “second American revolution.”

William Krisstofer Wolf was due to appear before U.S. District Judge Susan Watters in Billings.

A federal jury convicted the Gallatin County man on weapons charges in November, after Wolf bought a sawed-off automatic shotgun for $725 from an undercover FBI agent in the parking lot of a truck stop.

An automatic shotgun is categorized as a machine gun under federal law and can be bought only with a special permit, which Wolf did not have. Shotguns with shortened barrels also are illegal.

Prosecutors are seeking 10 years in prison for Wolf, a construction worker who ran an anti-government webcast called “The Montana Republic.”

That’s almost double what is recommended under federal sentencing guidelines. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Whittaker said stiff a prison sentence was needed to deter Wolf and send a message to others who might contemplate violence against the government.

“Wolf made law enforcement and judicial officers his targets,” Whittaker wrote in documents submitted to the court. “Wolf remains undeterred. A significant sentence is needed to address his contempt for the law.”

On his webcast, Wolf compared shooting police officers to shooting gophers and proposed citizen arrests of judges by militia-like safety committees. He testified at trial that he also wanted to acquire a flamethrower, which is allowed under federal law.

Wolf’s attorney, Mark Werner with the Federal Defenders Office, objected to the prosecutions’ assertions and asked for a sentence of 27 to 33 months. His client has no history of violence and did not intend to use the shotgun on any particular person, Werner said.

Wolf “felt a war was coming much like the Revolutionary War fought to remove the oppression of the British government,” Werner wrote. “There was no evidence presented that he threatened public officials. He didn’t like some of them. He thought some were corrupt. But he didn’t threaten to kill.”

During testimony at his trial, Wolf acknowledged saying he wanted to kill public officials, drop napalm on the Gallatin County courthouse and use a flamethrower on a police department armored vehicle.

“Once the war starts, yes,” Wolf testified. “Not before that.”