Homeland Security Employee Accused of Taking Weapons to Work Pleads Guilty to Firearms Charge

What to Know

  • Jonathan Wienke was found with weapons by security officers at Homeland Security headquarters in June.
  • A search of his West Virginia home found multiple illegal weapons, according to court documents.

A Department of Homeland Security employee accused of taking weapons to work pleaded guilty to a federal firearms charge Wednesday.

Jonathan Leigh Wienke, 46, faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when he is sentenced next year on a charge of making a firearm in violation of the national firearms act, a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor in Martinsburg, West Virginia, confirmed. The charge relates to a silencer found attached to a pistol in a search of Wienke's home. The silencer qualifies as a firearm and was made by Wienke.

In June, security officers found Wienke with a gun while he was on the job at agency headquarters on Nebraska Avenue in northwest D.C., according to court filings obtained by the News4 I-Team. A federal agent and security officers also found Wienke had a knife, pepper spray, thermal imaging equipment and radio devices, according to the request for court permission to raid his home about 75 miles from Washington in Martinsburg.

Multiple federal charges were filed after investigators seized 19 firearms and 10,000 to 50,000 rounds of ammunition when executing the search warrant at his home, according to a court filing. Agents also found items in the kitchen “consistent with those sometimes used to make improvised explosives,” but the items were not considered contraband and not seized.

In court documents, an agent said there was “probable cause to believe Jonathan Wienke was conspiring with another to commit workplace violence, and more particularly may have been conspiring or planning to commit violence against the senior DHS officials in the building.”

But DHS Chief Security Officer Richard McComb told a House homeland security subcommittee there is "no indication" Wienke was "planning or conspiring to commit workplace violence."

According court documents, Wienke was chosen for a random security screening when he arrived at agency headquarters about 7:30 a.m. June 9. The feds, in their filing, said security officers found the knife, pepper spray, thermal imaging equipment and radio devices during the screening and seized them.

But he was allowed to proceed to his office by agency security, according to court documents.

About 90 minutes later, before a meeting of senior DHS officials near Wienke’s work area, security went to Wienke and asked him to undergo another screening, according to court documents. During that screening, the feds found the loaded gun and the five hollow-point bullets, the filing said.

According to court records, Wienke had a top-secret clearance inside DHS headquarters, a building which has 3,000 employees.

He was placed on administrative leave from his job after his initial arrest, and a judge barred him from entering DHS headquarters during the investigation.

On July 11, another DHS employee was caught with a gun at headquarters. Thomas Pressley, a contractor who works in IT for the agency, pleaded not guilty.

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