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ATF investigating illegal gun sales from Superior DCI agent

SUPERIOR, WI (WTAQ) - The former head of the state Justice Department’s field office in Superior is under a federal investigation for allegedly selling guns without a license.

The Associated Press says Jay Smith has been under investigation for several months by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

The AP said fellow agent Dan Bethards of Superior told a justice official last December that Smith was making and selling .45-caliber pistols to three special state agents – and state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen had bought a similar weapon from Smith.

The AP report said Bethards and Smith have been at odds ever since Smith became the field-office leader two years ago. Bethards, who’s on medical leave, also reportedly said his boss sold an assault rifle to a Sawyer County investigators – and he never had a firearms license.

Matthews told the AP he questioned the credibility of the allegations but still called the ATF a day later.

The Justice Department said it didn’t expect Smith to be charged in the matter.

In late May, the agency said it was closing its Superior field office – and Smith could still work in the area for another boss from Eau Claire.

Matthews denies that Bethards’ allegations had anything to do with the Superior office closing.