Oklahoma State Rep Accuses ATF Agents of Extortion in Raid on Gun Dealer

Russell Fincher lost his federal firearms license and 50 guns in a June raid. He denies committing any crime and hopes the ATF will be held accountable.
Oklahoma State Rep Accuses ATF Agents of Extortion in Raid on Gun Dealer
Russell Fincher stands in front of his house in Tuskahoma, Okla., on Sept. 1, 2023. (Michael Clements/The Epoch Times)
Michael Clements
10/23/2023
Updated:
10/23/2023
0:00

Oklahoma state Rep. Justin Humphrey (R-Lane) said he has filed a probable cause affidavit with the Oklahoma Attorney General calling for the arrest and prosecution of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) agents.

Mr. Humphrey said the document is focused on agents who raided the home of Russell Fincher, a federal firearms license (FFL) holder in Tuskahoma, Oklahoma, on June 16.

Mr. Humphrey said he worked with the Pushmataha County Sheriff’s office to write up a probable cause affidavit requesting that Attorney General Gentner Drummond investigate the ATF agents for extortion, terroristic threats, and misuse of their authority as law enforcement officials, among other charges.

“When you abuse your law enforcement position, I think you ought to be arrested,” Mr. Humphrey told The Epoch Times.

Firearms dealer Mr. Fincher said he hopes that the state of Oklahoma or a federal agency like the FBI would look into what happened at his home that day.

“I just want them to really investigate it,” he told The Epoch Times. “I feel like there’s no accountability for the ATF.”

An ATF spokesman would not comment on Mr. Fincher’s case. However, he said reports have inaccurately portrayed ATF’s administrative procedures.

Ashely Stephens, a resident agent in charge and the public information officer for the ATF’s Tulsa, Oklahoma, field office, said the assertion that the ATF is confiscating guns for no reason or offering to sell them back to the owners for pennies on the dollar is wrong.

“That is a mischaracterization of what happened,” Mr. Stephens told The Epoch Times.

Spokespersons for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office and the Pushmataha County Sheriff’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Handcuffed in Front of Son

Mr. Humphrey worked for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for 20 years as a probation officer. He said that as a former law enforcement officer, he believes the ATF agents abused their power to intimidate and coerce Mr. Fincher into giving up his property and federal firearms license.

He is accusing the ATF of not clearly stating what crime, if any, Mr. Fincher is accused of and of pressuring him to give up guns and his FFL by handcuffing him and searching his property in front of his 13-year-old son.

“I’ve looked up all the statutes that I believe were violated,” Mr. Humphrey said.

Russell Fincher stands in front of one of his gun safes emptied by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives during a June 16, 2023 raid on his home in Tuskahoma, Okla., in this Sept. 1, 2023 photo. (Michael Clements/The Epoch Times)
Russell Fincher stands in front of one of his gun safes emptied by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives during a June 16, 2023 raid on his home in Tuskahoma, Okla., in this Sept. 1, 2023 photo. (Michael Clements/The Epoch Times)

In an interview with The Epoch Times last September, Mr. Fincher said he was shocked by the raid. He said his relationship with the ATF before that day had an air of professional courtesy.

When agents called and told him to stay home that day because they needed to talk to him, he expected the same type of official visit that he’d always had.

But when Mr. Fincher looked out his window, he saw vehicles come up his driveway, spread across his front yard, and disgorge armed men in tactical gear.

“I didn’t know what to think,” Mr. Fincher said. He stepped out to talk with the agents, was placed in handcuffs, and led away from the house.

“They said, ‘You’re not being arrested, you’re being detained,’” Mr. Fincher said.

The agents asked him about a gun he had legally traded at a gun show years before. A trade that Mr. Fincher said he barely remembers.

The gun had turned up at a crime scene in California years after he had traded it. The ATF traced the gun back to him as the original purchaser. Mr. Fincher said the agents badgered him about the trade, which was legal.

ATF agents arrive on Russel Fincher's property in Tuskahoma, Okla., on June 16, 2023. (Courtesy Russell Fincher)
ATF agents arrive on Russel Fincher's property in Tuskahoma, Okla., on June 16, 2023. (Courtesy Russell Fincher)

“They said, ‘You sold this gun to a criminal.’ I asked them, ‘Do you have a criminal telling you that Russell Fincher sold me a gun?’” Mr. Fincher said.

Mr. Stephens said that under the ATF’s administrative guidelines, agents only seize guns they’ve been authorized by the court to seize. This is why some guns may be taken while others would be left.

“We can only seize what the court tells us we can seize,” he said.

The owner is provided forms to contest the seizure and petition for the return of the property. Those forms will contain an estimated value for the property.

In the weeks after the raid, the ATF sent Mr. Fincher a list of the 50 confiscated firearms that set a value for each gun at $10. While stressing he was not addressing Mr. Fincher’s case, Mr. Stephens said the ATF doesn’t offer to purchase seized guns.

“That sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard of in 20 years with the ATF,” Mr. Stephens told The Epoch Times.

He added that the agents who seize the property don’t set the value.

ATF agents inventory firearms they confiscated from Russell Fincher of Tuskahoma, Okla., on June 16, 2023. (Courtesy of Russell Fincher)
ATF agents inventory firearms they confiscated from Russell Fincher of Tuskahoma, Okla., on June 16, 2023. (Courtesy of Russell Fincher)

Taking Issue With ATF

The documents provided by Mr. Fincher to The Epoch Times outline the procedure for petitioning to have the property returned.

Speaking with The Epoch Times for this story, Mr. Fincher took issue with Mr. Stephens’s assertion.

“My attorney told me that if I agreed to forfeit, they would send me a check for each gun,” he said.

Mr. Stephens said that the ATF would comment on the case as soon as possible. However, he said he is prohibited from commenting on ongoing investigations.

“We’re just not allowed to talk about ongoing investigations,” he said.

Michael Clements focuses mainly on the Second Amendment and individual rights for The Epoch Times. He has more than 30 years of experience in print journalism, having worked at newspapers in Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma. He is based in Durant, Oklahoma.