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Investigation looks into weapons modifications by drug officers

A court gavel
A court gavel

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Former state drug agent Dan Bethards reportedly accused his ex-colleagues of illegally modifying their rifles. The Associated Press said it obtained e-mails from the Justice Department relating to the former agent, who was fired last October after he accused a supervisor of violating weapons' laws. Last January, Bethards told administrator Dave Matthews that agents were shortening barrels on their personal and state-issued rifles without registering the changes with the federal government.

Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck told the A-P that the allegations were investigated -- and the A-T-F firearms agency found that one weapon was modified improperly. She said the gun was put into compliance, and nobody was disciplined.

Bethards told the A-P he was surprised the A-T-F let the incident go and wondered if quote, "Joe Citizen would get that same opportunity."

The state Equal Rights office ruled two months ago that the Justice Department might have violated Bethards' protections as a whistle-blower by firing him. State officials have scheduled a hearing in May on Bethards' complaint that the Justice Department retaliated against him over the allegations against his former boss.

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