Russell Vanderwerf, 44, has presented the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) with a bit of dilemma. He is charged with disabling the fire alarm system and damaging property at a Residence Inn in Metairie, Louisiana. However, the case could lead to litigation over what is an employee’s personal affairs and what is a basis for personal action.
Vanderwerf was discovered by a hotel technician who was looking into an alarm problem in the second-floor room registered to Vanderwerf. The staff found smoke detectors in the bedroom and kitchen-den had been removed and the horn that blares alarms was hanging out of the wall. They also discovered that someone had removed the bedroom doorand replaced it with a 5-by-4-foot piece of plywood affixed to the frame and the drywall with hinges and screws. The door had two locks attached from the bedroom side and a circular hole padded with duct tape. The police allege that it was likely a “glory hole” used for sex and report that another guest had complained about several “young men” were going in and out of the room all night with the door propped open. She also complained that “sex noises.”
Vandenwerf allegedly had material to repair the damage but was not given the chance to do so. Technically, the promise to repair will not mitigate the crime in this case. However, it will be more interesting to see how the ATF handles the other allegations. This is not a particularly serious charge, but the agency could demand a polygraph if he has access to sensitive or classified information. Yet, any sexual conduct was between consensual adults in private. That leaves only the property damage.
He is the director of industry operations for ATF’s Houston field office and oversees the handling of all federal gun and explosives licensees.
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