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Federal prosecutor admits Milwaukee ATF operation should've done better


MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - A federal prosecutor admits that a botched sting operation in Milwaukee should have nabbed larger numbers of violent criminals.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Fran Schmitz also told a judge at a sentencing hearing that the operation was, “not the best use of law enforcement resources.”

31-year-old Michael Buford was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison for selling cocaine, ecstasy, and guns to undercover agents. His previous record included 3 other drug convictions, but no violent crimes.

Schmitz told Judge J.P. Stadtmueller that the investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives was designed to catch people with violent pasts – but not enough were caught, and Buford was not one of them.

Over 30 people were arrested, and 145 guns seized in an operation in which a fake storefront was broken into and weapons were stolen.

The Journal Sentinel says it’s extremely rare for a prosecutor to even mildly criticize a law enforcement operation in a public court proceeding before a judge.

The ATF has launched a full inquiry into the botched sting. And prosecutor Schmitz told the judge, “Things will be done differently in the future.”