High-Ranking ATF Officer Arrested in Bizarre Hotel Damage Case

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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11 thoughts on “High-Ranking ATF Officer Arrested in Bizarre Hotel Damage Case”

  1. I have seen this man’s name more times than I can count affixed to ATF Federal Firearms Licensing correspondance, as I have written to Vandenwerf, too, as a FFLicensee over the years seeking variances to operate computerized record keeping systems in lieu of maintaining manual records. Professionally, this man has been as hard-nosed as they come, but now through a crack in his veneer we see his personal side may not be all that different from a lot of other fun loving folks.

  2. Ok, this sounds more like a crack house than a cock sucking Texan. That would be the only reason to disable the smoke detectors. But it could have been a blow hole as well. At least he went to Louisiana.

  3. FFLEO, I compose in a WP also and after I made sure it posted I erase the posting in my word processor. I don’t reconstruct- it must be an omen that the posting was not supposed to be posted. And it still exists intact in another time-line I’m sure- I’m only saved from embarrassment in this one. 🙂

  4. Lottakatz,

    I have written several long posts and they have vanished. Now, if I can remember, I type in a word processor first and then post so at least I am not retyping/composing long letters lost in the ethernet.

  5. I posted something here and it seemed to post properly but now it’s gone? This happened yesterday too but I assumed it was my error but I’m thinking it was not.

  6. Evidently housekeeping is infrequent at this place.

    I’m also thrown off by the fact that the replacement door was “5 feet by 4 feet”?!?! A standard door opening is going to be in the range of 36″ wide (aka 3 feet) if it is intended to comply with ADA accessibility requirements. A basic hotel door opening is also typically 6′-8″ or 7′-0″ high. Regardless of which way the 4×5 piece of ply was oriented, it would be 1)wider than the door frame and 2)not fill the door opening from top to bottom – it would be more of a bathroom stall arrangement. Maybe he was hoping to play into the preferences of a certain Republican senator? But it sure doesn’t seem very secure (given that he had added two locks) if there was a gap at the top or bottom that would be large enough to climb over or crawl under…

    Finally, wasn’t he concerned that his anonymous visitors would steal the towels?

  7. “… Yet, any sexual conduct was between consensual adults in private. ”

    In private? Hotel property willfully damaged, room door propped open so several men could come and go, and guests complaining about sex noises doesn’t sound like any definition of private I’ve read. In fact, it all sounds very public to me. How did he get the large piece of plywood pass the front desk or did he use a side entrance? Was he on the first floor or did he have to take his plywood up on an elevator? Kinky sex sure does require a lot of ridiculous prep work.

    Yeah … better keep this one away from a jury.

  8. “ATF’s Houston field office…” Just gotta be Texas

    It’s a lonesome it this old town, and every body puts me down… goin’ back to Houston, Houston, Houston…

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