BOSTON (CBS) — A Salem, New Hampshire police captain was arrested and charged with fraud on Thursday. U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a statement that Michael Wagner allegedly committed tax fraud after selling guns.
The 48-year-old from Pelham is charged with one count of filing a false tax return in 2013. Investigators said he purchased about three dozen assault rifles and resold them, making more than $33,000. He’s accused of leaving that profit off his tax return.
— U.S. Attorney MA (@DMAnews1) July 2, 2020
Wagner is expected to face a federal judge in Boston later Thursday.
A lawyer for Wagner said in a statement that “authorities have now demonized Captain Wagner’s firearms hobby and Second Amendment rights.”
“The single charge involves a disputed tax amount of a few thousand dollars from seven years ago that could have been resolved as an ordinary administrative matter,” attorney David Vicinanzo said. “The government should not have escalated this minor tax dispute into an unprovable criminal charge at any time, let alone in the middle of a global pandemic.”
Back in February 2019, the I-Team reported that Wagner was one of multiple Salem Police Department members under criminal investigation. After the I-Team report, the FBI and New Hampshire State Attorney General opened an investigation into the department. The investigation noted that an independent town audit found the department violated its own policies and led to a widening of the probe. Three members of the department have been under criminal investigation, and two have been charged in separate incidents. Since the investigation began, the chief and deputy chief retired.
On Thursday, the Salem, New Hampshire, Town Manager appointed a new chief, calling it “a new day.”
The Salem Police Department told WBZ-TV on Thursday that Wagner has been on paid leave since February 2019 and will remain on paid leave indefinitely.