Police captain charged with tax fraud on firearms sale
SALEM, N.H. (AP) — A police department captain in New Hampshire has been arrested and charged with tax fraud deriving from profits earned from selling firearms, federal prosecutors said.
Michael Wagner, 48, who is with the Salem Police Department, was accused in an indictment of buying 36 assault rifles from Sig Sauer Academy in Epping in in 2012 and 2013 and reselling them to earn a profit of more than $33,000 that was omitted from his tax return.
According to the indictment, Wagner, of Pelham, allegedly used a 25% discount that Sig Sauer offered law enforcement officers, which increased his profit, and directed a subordinate police officer to make a purchase of an assault rifle for him after Sig Sauer stopped giving Wagner the law enforcement discount. The indictment further alleges that Wagner overstated his deductions in his 2013 tax return by falsely claiming more than $10,000 in reimbursed expenses for police equipment, ammunition and firearms.
Wagner had a court hearing in Boston on Thursday. Wagner’s lawyer, David Vicinanzo, said in a statement that Wagner has been with the Salem department for 20 years and has “engaged in his firearms hobby responsibly and lawfully through federal firearms license holders.”
He said a political feud between Salem’s town manger and the police department led into an investigation of Wagner that produced no wrongdoing on his part. “Instead of closing the matter, the authorities have now demonized Captain Wagner’s firearms hobby and Second Amendment rights,” Vicinanzo said.
Last year, Wagner and other officers were named in letters from the attorney general’s office saying they were under investigation following the release of a department audit. Wagner has been on paid leave from the department.