Previously caught hacking a phone line to harass a pharmaceutical company executive, Nathan Brasfield is alleged to have shown a fully automatic rifle to an FBI informant while offering to sell the man pistols. Brasfield, 35, was arrested Tuesday after the FBI searched his Lake Forest Park home and seized the suspected machine gun.
Investigators contend Brasfield, a nine-time felon, was caught on tape expounding on his right to possess the modified weapon, which he kept loaded in a hallway closet at his home.
"I still have the legal right to possess and bear firearms, guaranteed to me by the Constitution no matter what the (expletive) government says about it," Brasfield was caught on tape telling the informant, according to charging papers.
First convicted of property crimes at age 20, Brasfield was dubbed a political prisoner in radical animal rights circles in 2003 after he was caught sending "black faxes" opposed to a former executive of a firm that tested drugs on animals.
The faxes, sent from a Tukwila phone line Brasfield had broken into, targeted a Kirkland man who previously directed the pharmaceutical testing firm. At the time, the man was drawing fire from the Animal Liberation Front, an animal rights group opposed to testing on animals and meat production whose members engaged in burglaries, arson and sabotage.
Sentenced to a year in state prison for breaking into the phone line, Brasfield was caught with stolen checks, computers and construction equipment in 2011.
A Seattle police detective searching the Lake City home described an "enormous" number of tools scattered around the home; Brasfield claimed he was working as a computer consultant and electrical contractor. Most of the items appeared to have been taken in burglaries in and around Bellevue.
Brasfield ultimately pleaded guilty to possession of stolen property and was sentenced to three months on work release.
As currently charged, Brasfield faces up to a decade in prison if convicted. He could face even more prison time, though, if investigators' suspicions that his short-barreled rifle was fully automatic prove true following tests by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Writing the court, an FBI special agent said an informant first claimed to have seen Brasfield with the automatic rifle in July 2012.
According to the informant's account, Brasfield said he wanted to show the informant "something cool" and pulled a rifle from the trunk of his Mercedes sedan. The informant said Brasfield explained he'd modified the weapon to allow for automatic fire.
Federal law heavily restricts access to automatic weapons. Though they look nearly identical on the outside, essentially all AR-15-style or AK-47-style rifles sold to civilians are semi-automatic. As a convicted felon, of course, Brasfield wasn't allowed to possess even a musket.
During that early interaction with the informant, Brasfield explained he believed the Second Amendment meant the government couldn't keep him away from firearms, the Seattle-based special agent said in court papers. Brasfield is alleged to have discussed shooting the machine gun on properties in Kitsap and Snohomish counties.
In February 2013, the informant met Brasfield at a Kenmore home where he was then living. Brasfield had apparently forgotten he'd shown the rifle to the informant previously, the FBI agent said, and did so again.
"Did I ever show you my, my, my baby?" Brasfield is alleged to have told the wire-wearing informant as he pulled a Vector Arms .223 cal. rifle from a closet.
"That's my home defense weapon," he continued, according to charging papers. "If somebody's gonna break in here, out in the middle of nowhere they're not gonna find the body."
Brasfield is alleged to have gone on to regale the informant with a host of other firearms crimes he claimed to have committed.
According to the FBI agent's statement, Brasfield claimed to have made silencers and shortened the machine gun's barrel so he could carry it under a coat. Investigators contend Brasfield had a pistol and rifle modified to accept silencers.
Brasfield is also alleged to have explained he was able to buy "door-breaching" shotgun ammunition and armor-piercing rifle rounds online despite his criminal history. Apparently, his seller didn't bother with background checks.
Early this month, Lake Forest Park police received a report that Brasfield was growing marijuana in the basement of his home there. FBI agents searched the home on Tuesday and arrested Brasfield.
Agents recovered the Vector Arms rifle as well as two handguns, including a Fabrique Nationale Herstal pistol designed to penetrate body armor, according to charging papers. Also seized were a rifle scope and several flash suppressors, as well as boxes of ammunition.
On initial inspection, the rifle appeared to be shorter than allowed under federal law, the agent said in court papers. The ATF will now examine the weapon to determine whether it is in fact a machine gun.
Brasfield appeared Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court at Seattle. He is expected to return to court next Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.