- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - An anti-government activist on trial in Montana over federal weapons charges testified Wednesday that he held out hope for peace but was prepared to take violent action against law enforcement, judges and elected officials “when the war starts.”

William Krisstofer Wolf of Gallatin County took the stand in his own defense as the three-day trial drew to a close at the federal courthouse in Billings.

A 12-person jury was to resume deliberations Thursday. The case is before U.S. District Judge Susan Watters.

The defendant, a self-described “patriot,” repeatedly denied accusations from prosecutors that he sought out and purchased an illegal, fully automatic, sawed-off shotgun from an undercover FBI agent nicknamed “Dirty” for $720.

Wolf, 53, said he thought though he was buying a legal, semi-automatic weapon for home defense. He argued that his intentions were well-known to a paid informant who earlier testified against him.

But Wolf also acknowledged interest in acquiring a flame-thrower that prosecutors said he planned to affix to the gun. And he indicated he was ready to use the weapon against police and others during a war that he anticipated would break out soon between the United States and its citizens following the collapse of the economy.

“Once this goes down, once the war starts, I will do everything I can to end the war quickly,” he said. “I need something that’s going to get the problem done fast, put the fear in the people and maybe scare … a few police officers so they surrender.”

Prior to his March 15 arrest on a charge of possession of a machine gun - the automatic shotgun - Wolf hosted a webcast called The Montana Republic. He railed against government corruption and advocated violence against elected officials, law enforcement and judges who stood in the way of efforts to restore the Constitution, according to excerpts from the show played by federal prosecutors.

He’s also charged with failing to register the shotgun in a national firearms database. Each count carries a potential sentence of 10 years in prison upon a conviction.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Whittaker urged the jury to reject Wolf’s contention that he believed he was buying an automatic shotgun that had been converted into a semi-automatic weapon and for which no registration was required.

“He was a man who had a predisposition to acquire the most dangerous kind of weapon he could,” Whittaker said. “He wanted a machine gun in order to handle riot crowds and cops.”

Defense attorney Mark Werner argued that his client was entrapped by the undercover agent and the informant, who induced him into buying the shotgun.

Yet Wolf testified that he had long been considering the purchase of such a weapon, albeit with modifications to make it legal. Prosecutors said that claim was refuted by Wolf’s own statements in video and audio recordings of his meetings with the undercover FBI agent and the informant, who was paid $9,000 by the agency for his work on the case.

Authorities concluded after a 14-month investigation that there was no evidence of a broader conspiracy in the case. Wolf associated with like-minded militia-types and had a following for his webcast, but no others were directly involved in his pursuit of high-powered weaponry, prosecutors said.

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