ATF Sting Operation Used Brain-Damaged Man, Then Charged Him (Journal Sentinel)
Wednesday April 10th, 2013
ATF agents running an undercover storefront in Milwaukee used a brain-damaged man with a low IQ to set up gun and drug deals, paying him in cigarettes, merchandise and money, according to federal documents obtained by the Journal Sentinel.
For more than six months, federal agents relied on Chauncey Wright to promote “Fearless Distributing” by handing out fliers as he rode his bike around town recommending the store to friends, family and strangers, according to federal prosecutors and family members.
Wright, unaware that the store was an undercover operation being run by agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, also stocked shelves with shoes, clothing, drug paraphernalia and auto parts, according to his family.
Once authorities shut down the operation, they charged the 28-year-old man with federal gun and drug counts.
“I have never heard of anything so ludicrous in my life,” said Greg Thiele, who spent 30 years working for the Milwaukee Police Department including on undercover stings with federal agents, including those with the ATF. “Something is very wrong here.”
Wright’s IQ measures in the 50s, about half of a normal IQ, according to those familiar with him. Wright’s score is classified as mildly or moderately disabled, depending on the IQ scale used.
At Wright’s sentencing in June, prosecutors will recommend probation, based on his “mental functioning,” according to his plea agreement on file with the court.