MADISON, WIS. – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Justin Wenger, 38, Monticello, Wisconsin pleaded guilty and was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge James Peterson to 42 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, for possession of ammunition as a convicted felon.
In 2014, Wenger was convicted of the felony crimes of burglary and theft of firearms when he and two others stole a significant amount of money and several firearms during a 2012 burglary. He was sentenced to five years in prison to be followed by supervised release and probation.
On January 16, 2020, Wenger stole a box of .223 ammunition from a store in Monroe, Wisconsin. The ammunition was for an AR15 rifle that he had just purchased for his son. While investigating this theft, investigators searched Wenger’s residence and discovered not only the .223 ammunition and AR15, but seven firearms under Wenger’s bed and approximately 50 firearms in a safe. Wenger said that the AR15 rifle belonged to his son, and the rest of the firearms belonged to his brother and father who were storing them at his house.
At sentencing, Judge Peterson noted that Wenger had simply disregarded his prohibition on possessing firearms and ammunition. Judge Peterson said that Wenger posed a danger to society due to his poor decision making. Judge Peterson ordered the federal sentence to run consecutive to a two-year prison term that Wenger was serving based on revocation of his state supervision for his 2014 conviction.
The charge against Wenger was the result of an investigation conducted by the Monroe and Monticello Police Departments, Green County Sheriff’s Office, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Stephan.
The charge against Wenger was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the U.S. Justice Department’s program to reduce violent crime. The PSN approach emphasizes coordination between state and federal prosecutors and all levels of law enforcement to address gun crime, especially felons illegally possessing firearms and ammunition, and violent crimes and drug crimes that involve the use of firearms.