A Flathead County man accused of possessing an arsenal that included a machine gun, a grenade and improvised explosives pleaded guilty to four of the nine federal weapons charges against him on Monday.
Bruce Boone Wann, 61, told an informant he'd stolen some of the items years ago from "a government bunker" in California, according to the offer of proof filed against him.
In October, prosecutors charged Wann with illegally possessing or distributing several firearms and explosive devices. Wann had originally pleaded not guilty to all nine of the specific charges.
But under a new plea agreement, he’s pleaded guilty to the four separate charges of knowingly possessing a machine gun, an unregistered gun silencer, an unregistered rifle and an “improvised grenade.”
The government’s offer of proof states that, had these charges gone to trial, a confidential informant “would testify that, in June of 2018 through the fall of 2018, in Marion and within Flathead County, Wann kept buried or otherwise concealed, firearms, ammunition, a grenade, dynamite and other items on various properties.”
The document goes on to state the informant stored these items at his home while Wann was moving, and that Wann stole them back. In addition, “Wann had made various threats against people in Marion and Flathead Counties, including threats of violence.”
Federal prosecutors were prepared to present several pieces of evidence, including undercover recordings, that would show “Wann made a concerted effort to conceal the existence of these weapons from law enforcement, and that many, if not all, of the weapons that Wann possessed were deemed to be in operating condition.”
At Monday’s change-of-plea hearing in U.S. District Court in Missoula, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch asked Wann if he admitted to each element of each of the charges. That prompted some back-and-forth about the quality of the improvised grenade he was accused of possessing.
“I don’t think it even worked,” Wann said of the grenade.
“He didn’t test it, your honor, but he tested one of similar age, nature and quality that didn’t work,” said Wann’s attorney, Shandor Badaruddin, who told Lynch that Wann was “not in a position to dispute” the allegations, and that he didn’t want to lose the advantages of the plea agreement by not entering a guilty plea to this charge.
Despite what he called “a few stumbles,” Lynch declared himself satisfied with the four pleas, and convinced the government could prove him guilty on each of them. Under the terms of the still-sealed agreement, the prosecutors will dismiss the five other charges against Wann, of knowingly possessing explosive materials and firearms. He will also forfeit 17 unspecified items.
Each of the charges to which Wann pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and three years’ supervised release. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for April 12 at 9 a.m.