Van Aelstyn, 45, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and possessing an unregistered firearm. He was initially 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.
The charges stem from an incident where Van Aelstyn allegedly removed two illegal firearms from a suspect's home, transported them to an FBI office for storage, and later took them to his residence.
One of the guns, a Cugir Mini Draco pistol, was allegedly destroyed and thrown away. Van Aelstyn also gave an AM-15 multi-caliber rifle to an individual identified as "MH" and instructed him not to disclose the source of the firearm.
According to the plea deal, 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. His attorney, Thomas Bullock, declined to comment on the case.
The incident occurred on July 5, 2017, when Van Aelstyn, working as a special agent with the FBI, seized the pistol and rifle from a suspect's home during an investigation. The firearms, along with illegal substances, were placed in Van Aelstyn's government vehicle and transported to the FBI Lexington Resident Agency office evidence room.
Van Aelstyn admitted that he knew a formal office inspection was imminent between January and April 2018 due to an upcoming office relocation. He acknowledged that the guns were still in the evidence room without proper documentation, which would raise concerns during the inspection. As a result, he removed the firearms from the office, took them home, and stored them in a safe.
By signing the plea agreement, Van Aelstyn admitted to "knowingly, corruptly, and illegally" retaining the guns. He now faces a maximum sentence of one year and a day in prison, fines up to $360,000, and six years of supervised release. His sentencing is scheduled for March 28 in Covington, where a federal judge will consider the circumstances of the case and U.S. sentencing guidelines to determine his sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Karl Kadon, the prosecutor in the case, was not immediately available for comment. Van Aelstyn indicated in court records that he is moving to Texas, which U.S. Magistrate Judge Candace Smith permitted as part of his release conditions while awaiting final sentencing.
FBI spokesperson Katie Anderson confirmed that Van Aelstyn no longer works for the FBI. The discovery of the guns was a result of a separate investigation into alleged domestic violence.
Versailles Police Department officers visited Van Aelstyn's residence on July 9, 2021, to investigate the allegations against him. However, a Woodford County grand jury declined to indict him on charges of assault-domestic violence and strangulation in September 2022. In response, Van Aelstyn filed a federal lawsuit against the Versailles police officers involved, claiming they violated his civil rights.
The lawsuit, filed in May, alleges that officers Scott Carnes and Coleman Sparks continuously violated Van Aelstyn's rights by pursuing a criminal complaint against him without reviewing or presenting evidence that would demonstrate his innocence. The lawsuit is still pending, with recent filings indicating that attorneys are going through the discovery process.