Society

ATF Sting Results in Arrest of Brain-Damaged Man, Chauncey Wright, on Gun, Drug Charges

| by Michael Allen
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The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) reportedly set up a sting operation to entrap a brain-damaged, mentally retarded man named Chauncey Wright.

Wright nearly drowned as an infant, and the lack of oxygen to his brain caused permanent brain damage. His IQ is in the 50s, about half of a normal IQ, according to his family.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, to convince Wright to commit crimes, the ATF gave him cigarettes, cash and gifts for distributing flyers for an undercover storefront, -- Fearless Distributing -- set up by the ATF.

Wright rode his bike around Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and handed out the flyers, as directed. On top of that, though, the ATF also had him set up gun and drug deals.

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Six months later, the ATF shut down the store front and charged Wright with federal gun and drug charges, according to Georgetown constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley.

The federal gun charge came from the ATF placing guns in Wright's possession for the store. However, Wright was a convicted felon, on previous charges, and was not allowed to have a gun.

"I have never heard of anything so ludicrous in my life," said Greg Thiele, whose experience includes the Milwaukee Police Department and working on stings with the ATF. "Something is very wrong here."

At Wright's sentencing in June, prosecutors will recommend probation based on his "mental functioning."

"That's just hugely inappropriate. It's no different than using a kid," said Jim Hoegemeier, of the Arc-Wisconsin Disability Association. "They had to have known after working with him for more than a couple of hours."

"This is real exploitation," said Shirin Cabraal, of Disability Rights Wisconsin. "It's morally outrageous."

"With him being slow, they knew that and they used him," said Willie Campbell, Wright's grandmother. "He was too slow to catch on to what was going on. He was saying, 'These are my good friends. These are my guys. They are looking out for me. Whatever they told him to do, he would try to keep his job and he would do it."

There were allegedly more screw ups by the ATF agents. ATF guns were stolen out of a car, the fake storefront was robbed of  $40,000 in merchandise, ATF agents forgot secret documents after they shut down the store and three innocent people were charged.

Also, ATF agents damaged the fake storefront's structure, refused to pay the building's landlord and warned him against legally pursuing the matter.

Sources: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and JonathanTurley.org