It’s more bad publicity for TLC as another of the network’s reality stars is in some serious legal trouble. Brandon Putman, the second oldest son on the series Meet the Putmans, has been charged with possession of an unregistered firearm, illegal transfer of a firearm, and illegal possession of a machine gun after allegedly asking a machine shop to manufacture illegal parts used to convert a semi-automatic AR rifle to a fully automatic one.
Meet the Putmans is a reality show documenting the lives of the 26-member Putman family, who all live under the same roof in Pigeon, Michigan. On Thursday, those family members were joined under that roof by agents from The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as they raided the family’s home during their investigation.
According to the criminal complaint filed in US District Court in Bay City (included below), 31-year-old Brandon brought a part into an Elkton, Michigan machinery shop and asked if they could make ten copies. From the criminal complaint:
On or about November 28, 2017, PUTMAN arrived at Progressive Tool and Machinery in Elkton, Michigan where he spoke with the owner, Pat McArdle. PUTMAN inquired whether McArdle could duplicate a metal part. McArdle, suspicious that this may be a firearm part, asked PUTMAN if it was a “music box part.” PUTMAN smiled and responded, “yes.” MeArdle later explained to me that a “music box part” is a mechanist code word for firearm parts. PUTMAN asked McArdlc if he could make ten (10) duplicates of the part that he brought him. McArdlc informed PUTMAN that he could make ten (10) duplicates for approximately eighty dollars ($80) a part. Upon further research, McArdle discovered that the part was very similar to a full-automatic conversion sear for an AR-15. McArdle contacted the ATF and reported the above interaction with PUTMAN. The ATF has financially compensated McArdle for his cooperation in this investigation.
On December 15, 2017, I met with McArdle to examine the part. I examined the metal part and agreed that it resembled a Drop-In Auto Sear (DIAS) for an AR-15. A DIAS is a device which, when installed in an AR-type rifle, along with several other critical fire-control parts, can convert a semi-automatic AR rifle into a fully-automatic assault rifle. The part had no manufacture insignia or logo, and did not contain a serial number. After examining the part, I took it into ATF custody.
On January 4, 2018, I received an official determination on the suspected DIAS. FTB analyzed the suspected DIAS and determined that it was an authentic AR-15 drop-in auto sear designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun. Therefore, the drop-in auto sear itself is classified as a “machinegun’ as defined in 26 U.S.0 § 5845(b).
…I know based on training and experience that most commercially available AR-15 rifles are assembled with semiautomatic parts. I believe that Brandon PUTMAN likely acquired additional M16 machinegun parts to assist in the conversion to fully automatic because lie described to Agent Wickwire that the DIAS worked in “multiple applications.” Agent Wickwire understood that statement to mean that PUTMAN has successfully used the DIAS in multiple AR-15 type rifles.
According to the Firearms Technology Branch, one (1) drop-in auto sear that is registered with the National Firearms Act and is legal for personal use would cost approximately forty thousand ($40,000) dollars. PUTMAN agreed to a price of one hundred ($100) dollars per drop-in auto sear during the undercover phone call with Agent Wickwire.
Brandon Putman (photo above) posted a $10,000 bond and was released Thursday afternoon. If convicted of the charges he is facing, Brandon is facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
UPDATE MARCH 9 – Brandon Putman was indicted by a grand jury on the charge of receipt or possession of a firearm unregistered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record on February 28. He is scheduled to appear for arraignment on March 18.
Brandon’s legal troubles are just the latest bad news for the Putman family as their patriarch, Bill Putman, is still recovering from a heart attack he suffered less than a month ago in Las Vegas. In addition to dealing with the after effects of the heart attack, which was caused by a 98% blockage in the windowmaker artery, Bill is also recovering from 10 broken ribs, a broken sternum, and a blood clot in his arm. Bill is currently back home in Michigan recuperating.
The family also lost their beloved bulldog Rubble (seen in the foreground of the family photo at the top of this post) last week after what was supposed to be a simple surgical procedure.
Multiple media outlets have reached out to TLC for a statement on Brandon’s arrest and the future of Meet the Putmans, but so far there has been no response from the network.
Here is the full criminal complaint filed against Brandon Putman: