Wash State: "Gun News ad seeks clues in 2001 case of slain prosecutor "


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cuchulainn
August 16, 2004, 11:47 AM
from the The Seattle Times

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002006320_wales16m.html

Gun News ad seeks clues in 2001 case of slain prosecutor

By Gene Johnson
The Associated Press

The FBI has taken out an ad in Gun News magazine, hoping to generate tips that could help solve the slaying of Thomas Wales, a federal prosecutor shot to death in his Seattle basement nearly three years ago.
The two-page advertisement asks readers who know anyone with an "after-market" barrel for a Makarov semi-automatic pistol to call the agency.

It describes the barrels, manufactured by Federal Arms, as being made of stainless steel and having six lands and grooves. Original barrels for the pistols are made of blued steel with four lands and grooves.

The ad's other page offers a $1 million reward for information that helps solve the case. Wales, 49 and a father of two, was an assistant U.S. attorney in Seattle for 18 years and specialized in prosecuting white-collar crime.

Wales was killed as he worked at his computer the night of Oct. 11, 2001. The killer fired several shots through a basement window.

At one point in the investigation, a federal grand jury in Seattle subpoenaed Federal Arms, of Fridley, Minn., to provide the names of customers and gun dealers who purchased replacement Makarov barrels before Wales' death.

The company complied, and FBI field offices around the country began contacting people who bought the 3,500 barrels. They hope to turn up one that matches ballistics markings on shell casings found outside Wales' basement window.

The FBI has investigated Wales' involvement with the gun-control group Washington CeaseFire and his personal and professional lives.

The only publicly identified suspect so far is a former airline pilot who lives in Bellevue. He has not been charged with a crime in Wales' death.

The pilot, a man in his 40s, was indicted by Wales in 2000 in a fraud case involving the renovation of a Vietnam-era military helicopter for civilian use.

The next year, charges against the pilot and his business partners were dropped, and the company pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

The pilot, an avid gun owner, sued the government for malicious prosecution, seeking recovery of more than $125,000 in payments to lawyers, but the lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge.

The FBI first searched the pilot's home in December 2001. In April, agents searched it again, seizing 27 boxes of goods.

They also removed a bullet from the wall of an apartment in Bellingham where the pilot used to live.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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Pilgrim
August 16, 2004, 11:54 AM
Looks like the FBI has a "person of interest" with sufficient motive. It will be interesting to see if they can link a Makarov barrel to this person.

Pilgrim

Brett Bellmore
August 16, 2004, 01:07 PM
We really shouldn't indulge the government with it's "person of interest" terminology. It's just a phrase intended to allow them to treat somebody as a criminal suspect, without according them the rights due a criminal suspect.

F4GIB
August 16, 2004, 08:21 PM
They are on a giant "fishing expedition" at this point. The killer was smart enough to use a cheap aftermarket barrel, probably bought anonymously, in a city where you are seldom more than a mile from the ocean and ferries run every 20 minutes. Where do you think the barrel is? At the bottom of Elliott Bay, most likely.

c_yeager
August 16, 2004, 09:01 PM
Man, they really pull out all the stops when one of their own gets killed. I doubt i would be treated to this kind of investigation should i wash up somewhere...

I love how this is ALWAYS brought up with this case:

The FBI has investigated Wales' involvement with the gun-control group Washington CeaseFire and his personal and professional lives.

especially when it is followed with a statement like this:

The only publicly identified suspect so far is a former airline pilot who lives in Bellevue. He has not been charged with a crime in Wales' death.

How does that add up? Im thinking like this "Well despite all evidence to the contrary it MIGHT have been a gunnut. Of course it just MIGHT have been one of the several hundred people this prosecutor convicted of a crime and sent to prison... But, we are still thinking its a gunnut..."

Standing Wolf
August 16, 2004, 09:12 PM
At one point in the investigation, a federal grand jury in Seattle subpoenaed Federal Arms, of Fridley, Minn., to provide the names of customers and gun dealers who purchased replacement Makarov barrels before Wales' death.
The company complied, and FBI field offices around the country began contacting people who bought the 3,500 barrels.

Something smells bad to me.

hammer4nc
September 14, 2006, 12:50 PM
http://www.kirotv.com/news/9848374/detail.html

Witness Held In Wales Slaying Pleads Not Guilty To Gun Charge

POSTED: 7:40 am PDT September 14, 2006

SEATTLE -- A Bellevue gun collector who was arrested as a material witness in the 2001 assassination of a federal prosecutor pleaded not guilty Wednesday to an unrelated charge of machine-gun possession.

Albert K. Kwan was arrested Friday on one count of possessing an M-14 machine gun in January 2005. His attorneys said they found the charge curious, because Kwan owns more than 100 machine guns legally, and the one that resulted in his indictment required serious modification by federal agents before it could be fired automatically.

Kwan was arrested in early 2005 and held for 23 days as a material witness in the October 2001 slaying of Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Crane Wales, an 18-year federal prosecutor and president of a Washington gun-control organization. Wales was shot through a window as he worked in the basement of his home on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill. The FBI has designated his assasssination a "major case" and is offering $1 million for information that helps solve it.

Kwan, who has not been identified as a suspect, was held because federal investigators believed he had purchased two replacement barrels for a Makarov pistol, and ballistics evidence indicated the bullets that killed Wales had traveled through such a barrel. The investigators wanted to know if Kwan had the barrels or if he had provided them to someone else.

Kwan, who has testified four or five times before a grand jury investigating Wales' death, gave authorities one barrel which did not match the bullets, said his lawyers, Joseph Conte and Eric Stahlfeld.

"He told them he believes he never had a second barrel," Stahlfeld said after the hearing Wednesday.

The grand jury "has asked him about everything. He knows nothing," Conte added.

Conte, of Washington, D.C., and Stahlfeld, of Seattle, also said Kwan does not know a Bellevue airline pilot who is the only publicly identified suspect in the Wales killing. That pilot had feuded with Wales in court. Through his attorney, he has declined several interview requests.

"From everything we know, he's never had anything even close to contact" with the pilot, Stahlfeld said of Kwan.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Redkey argued Wednesday that Kwan should be detained because he posed a danger to the community and was not forthcoming with the court regarding his assets. He also failed to disclose a passport that had been issued to him in Hong Kong.

Kwan once imported 50 firearms from Canada without proper documentation, Redkey said, and in 1996 he was caught trying to cross the border with two guns wrapped in bubblewrap under the hood of his car.

Customs agents also seized a van from Kwan in 2002 when they discovered it had a hidden compartment. Kwan unsuccessfully sued for damages. He also sued in 2003 when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to refused to renew his four federal firearms licenses. The agency said it based its decision partly on his refusal to cooperate with agents seeking to inspect his home, the licensed premises. Kwan lost that case and has filed an appeal.

Conte said the lengths to which Kwan went to ensure that his other machine guns were legally owned and properly documented, and that the M-14 at issue could not readily be fired automatically, indicate that he did not intend to do anything illegal.

"It didn't operate as a machine gun when the government seized it," he told U.S. Magistrate Judge Monica Benton.

Conte also questioned why Kwan was only arrested last week, when agents seized the gun during a January 2005 search of his home. Redkey said he had only recently received information about the case from the ATF.

Benton said she would likely release Kwan pending trial, possibly on home detention, as long as all weapons were removed from the home. The detention hearing was put off until Friday to give Kwan's lawyers time to find storage for his collection of firearms.

Trial was scheduled for Nov. 13.

hammer4nc
September 14, 2006, 01:07 PM
This guy (Kwan) has been run through the wringer in the past regarding his ffl (discussed on THR): http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/index.php/t-138106.html

from the article above:
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Redkey argued Wednesday that Kwan should be detained because he posed a danger to the community and was not forthcoming with the court regarding his assets.

When desperate, .gov can always prosecute you for income tax violations...

Langenator
September 14, 2006, 05:48 PM
Machineguns were only legal in WA from 1991-1994. Any acquired during that time are grandfathered, however. I know a guy who has 3 (Thompson, BAR, and Lewis gun). Quite amazing that Mr Kwan managed to get 100 full autos in 3 years.

And I'll bet it took the screwing with the one rifle the whole time they've had it to get it to fire 'full auto.' Just keep firing it without cleaning until the firing pin channel is so gummed up that it gets stuck forward and the gun fires whenever the bolt closes on a round.

Mr. Kwan doesn't sound like an entirely squeaky clean person, but I think the US Attorney is really stretching at this point.

fourays2
September 14, 2006, 06:54 PM
I wonder if wilson blaire is working this case.

kengrubb
September 14, 2006, 06:59 PM
I wonder if wilson blaire is working this case.
Even now, as we speak, from the grave. :cool:

hammer4nc
September 16, 2006, 10:07 AM
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003261341_kwan16m.html

Gun collector to remain in jail, magistrate rules

By Mike Carter

Seattle Times staff reporter

A Bellevue gun collector once questioned about the slaying of a federal prosecutor will remain in custody pending trial on a charge that he illegally possessed a machine gun.

U.S. Magistrate Monica Benton ruled Friday that Albert Kwok-Leung Kwan posed a flight risk and a potential threat to the community and to federal agents who would monitor him if he was freed.

At a hearing before the judge's decision, Kwan's attorneys acknowledged that he repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment guarantee against self-incrimination during appearances before a grand jury investigating the slaying of Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Wales in October 2001.

Kwan was arrested and held as a material witness for 23 days last year as FBI agents and federal prosecutors attempted to discern the whereabouts of two handgun barrels Kwan allegedly owned. The bullets that killed Wales were fired through the same, rare type of barrel, the FBI has said.

Kwan is not a suspect in the killing.

He was indicted last week for owning an unlicensed M-14 assault rifle the government says was capable of firing as a machine gun.

Kwan has hundreds of firearms many of them licensed machine guns in his home. Benton was worried about the safety of federal agents who would supervise Kwan if he was released.

Kwan's attorneys argued to have him placed in a federal halfway house while his gun collection was moved. His lawyer Joseph Conte said the collection amounted to nearly 3,000 pounds of guns.

Benton cited instances in which Kwan had been evasive or confrontational with agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has revoked his federal firearms license. Kwan, the magistrate said, appeared guilty of "not insubstantial" violations of ATF regulations.

"And this is a firearm offense," Benton said. "I have to look at his conduct in light of that."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Comment: Wow! The judge openly flaunts from the bench, the concept of "presumption of innocence until proven guilty". His offense? Being evasive or confrontational (i.e., not submissive) when .gov is only trying to destroy your livelihood. That plus owning guns. Attitude crimes...Its a new day, gentlemen.

Langenator
September 16, 2006, 11:59 PM
Put in jail for 23 days because he couldn't, or wouldn't, account for 2 items (Makarov barrels), on which, legally, there are fewer restrictions on buying and selling or otherwise disposing than there is on spray paint. (If you don't believe me, try buying a can a spray paint in some jurisdictions if you're under 18.)

Unless the Feds had proof that one of those barrels was used in the gun that killed the DA, I'd say they seriously overstepped.

Autolycus
September 17, 2006, 12:16 AM
Seems like they are trying to railroad him pretty badly. I think that the ATF and them guys seems to really be stretching at this point. I hope for all of our sakes he wins this. He may be a bit shady but the ATF is shadier.

Otherguy Overby
September 17, 2006, 12:47 AM
Anyone wanna defend the AFT on this one?

The next thing they'll release to the press is that Kwan is a pederast or maybe a polygamist, or something else. I don't think anyone from the government has told the truth since sometime before the civil war. They certainly never told the truth to the indians. I guess we are the indians of the 21st century.

SomeKid
September 17, 2006, 02:04 AM
Some dirtbag gun-control loving prosecutor dies, and now the government goes nuts. Statists protecting statists.

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