MILWAUKEE (WSAU-Wheeler News) It might be awhile -- if ever -- before we learn the details of a botched sting operation in Milwaukee by the U-S Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Plea deals have been reached for all 26 defendants still facing charges in the federal government's foiled effort to root out illegal gun buyers last year. That means there won't be any trials where evidence would come out.
Sixteen people have pleaded guilty to various federal charges which netted them up to 12 years in prison. Eighteen others were charged at the state level. Eight of those cases were dropped. The wrong people were arrested in three of those cases. Ten other state defendants pleaded guilty.
Last week Milwaukee County prosecutor Karen Loebel said she was not allowed to bring in the operation's leading A-T-F agent as a witness in two of the cases. Karen Loebel said she could not disclose why she couldn't make Special Agent Jacqueline Sutton testify.
The botched case was called "Operation Fearless" where the A-T-F sent up a fake storefront in a Milwaukee neighborhood designed to catch gun criminals. The place was burglarized, and $40,000 in merchandise was stolen. An A-T-F agent's machine gun remains missing. Top A-T-F officials are investigating, along with the Justice Department's inspector general.