Former ATF facility security guard indicted for stealing firearms

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – Christopher Lee Yates, a former contract security guard at a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) facility, was indicted by a federal grand jury on stolen firearms charges, United States Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Yates, 52, of Martinsburg, is charged with one count of “Sale of Stolen Firearm,” one count of “Possession of Stolen Firearms,” one count of “Possession of Unregistered Firearm,” and one count of “Theft of Government Property.”

Yates is accused of possessing and selling stolen firearms in Berkeley County in February 2019. Yates is also accused of stealing firearms, firearms parts, and ammunition valuing more than $1,000 from the ATF’s National Disposal Branch in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Yates faces up to 10 years incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Finucane is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated.

An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Anyone with information regarding the location of these firearms, firearms parts, ammunition and/or persons who unknowingly purchased one or more of these items should contact ATF at 1-888-ATF-TIPS, email; through its website at; or through the ReportIt app,, available on both Google Play and the Apple App Store.

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