Former Kentucky FBI agent pleads guilty to federal charges, admits taking guns from storage

A former Central Kentucky FBI agent pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges after he illegally took guns from an FBI storage office, according to court records.

Michael Van Aelstyn, 45, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and possessing an unregistered firearm, according to court documents. He was originally charged with possession of a firearm made in violation of the National Firearms Act, possession of an unregistered firearm, and unlawful transfer of a firearm to an out-of-state resident, according to a May indictment.

Van Aelstyn is alleged to have removed two illegal firearms from a suspect’s home, transported them to an FBI office for storage, and later removed them from the evidence room, taking them to his residence, according to court documents.

Van Aelstyn also gave an AM-15 multi-caliber rifle to a man identified in court documents as “MH,” and told him “he should not let anyone else know the source of that firearm.”

Another gun, a Cugir Mini Draco pistol, was allegedly destroyed by Van Aelstyn and thrown away, according to court documents.

Van Aelstyn also illegally possessed a 20-gauge Winchester shotgun with a sawed-off barrel, which was not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, according to the plea deal.

His attorney, Thomas Bullock, declined to comment Tuesday.

FBI agent took guns from office, stored them at home

Van Aelstyn was working as a special agent with the FBI on July 5, 2017, when he seized the pistol and rifle from a suspect’s Lexington home during an investigation, according to court documents. Both the guns and illegal substances were placed into Van Aelstyn’s government vehicle and transported to the FBI Lexington Resident Agency office evidence room, according to court documents.

Van Aelstyn admitted to the government that between January and April 2018, he knew that a formal office inspection was imminent because of an upcoming office relocation. He knew the guns were still in the evidence room without proper documentation, which would be “cause for concern for office inspectors,” court documents state.

Van Aelstyn said that’s why he removed the firearms from the office, took them home and put them in a safe, court documents state.

By signing the plea agreement, Van Aelstyn admitted he “knowingly, corruptly, and illegally” retained the guns, his plea deal states.

Van Aelstyn faces a maximum of one year and a day in prison, fines up to $360,000 and six years supervised release. His sentencing is scheduled for March 28 in Covington. A federal judge will consider the circumstances of the case and U.S. sentencing guidelines to determine what Van Aelstyn’s sentence will be.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karl Kadon, the prosecutor in the case, was not immediately available for comment Tuesday morning.

Van Aelstyn indicated in court records that he is moving to Texas, which U.S. Magistrate Judge Candace Smith permitted him to do as part of conditions of release while he awaits final sentencing.

FBI spokesperson Katie Anderson confirmed Tuesday that Van Aelstyn no longer works for the FBI.

Former agent still suing local police

The discovery of the guns was the result of a separate investigation into alleged domestic violence. Versailles Police Department officers showed up to Van Aelstyn’s residence on July 9, 2021 to investigate allegations against him.

As a result of the incident, Van Aelstyn faced charges of assault-domestic violence and strangulation. A Woodford County grand jury declined to indict him on those charges in September 2022. Van Aelstyn then filed a federal lawsuit against the Versailles police officers who investigated him, claiming they violated his civil rights.

Van Aelstyn’s lawsuit, filed in May, alleges Scott Carnes and Coleman Sparks continually violated Van Aelstyn’s rights by pursuing a criminal complaint against him, including testifying or presenting to the grand jury without reviewing or presenting evidence which would demonstrate his innocence.

The lawsuit is still pending. Recent filings indicated attorneys were going through discovery.