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FoFig Films

I’ve started a small micro-budget film company. My first goal is to have fun. Goal 1-A is to make gorilla-style Indie films on law enforcement topics that will bring authenticity to the crime story genre that Hollywood is afraid to.

“FoFig” is my joke on me – Four Figures – as in how much I will (can) spend to make a movie.

My first project will be announced in the coming weeks.

You can follow on Twitter at:

Form Letter, Mock or Joke; you decide

This is the letter that accompanied my retirement badge and credentials.

It is signed by the guy who tried to give me five days off (no due diligence, investigation or research, nada) for getting the Director butt-hurt by calling out his golden-boy John Torres (I was completely accurate btw) – actually flew me to his office in DC just so he could lay the wood face to face like a good order taking bully-puppet – that is until Chairman Issa wrote a letter to Holder and told him ATF can’t retaliate, at least not out in the open, haha. Brandon covered for him like it was all a misunderstanding and told me not to use bad words, haha again.

The last two sentences/paragraphs are the best. Appreciation for my valuable service? Shoulda been at the trial Ron because the bureau and DOJ painted me as the posterboy for the worst possible agent ATF had to offer. Best wishes in my retirement? Last I checked you were still trying to cave my head in for your mistakes.

You just gotta laugh.

Retirement Badge Letter



It was official in January but made official-official today. I received my retirement badge and credentials in the mail. In spite of ATF’s troubles, I am proud to have worked here.

Thank you to all who mentored, partnered and supported me over the years. The only memories that will last are the good ones.



ATF Needs a Bigger Cover-Up Blanket

See today’s posting on by author and investigative journalist David Codrea.

Based on yesterday’s reciept of closing arguement transcripts, we are growing closer.

Judge Allegra has encountered a medical issue that will slightly delay the issuance of his opinion. I am 1000% OK with however long that may take. For those who support me, have patience with me and say a quick prayer for Judge Allegra’s quick return to the bench. The truth is all I ever needed and it is coming.

August will be the 6 year anniversary of the arson of my home. If I have to wait for another 6 months to hear Judge Allegra’s opinion of what took place and what he learned in his courtroom I do so with full confidence and faith that the truth will be exposed.

ATF Executives think that all of this is taking place inside a bubble of disinterest and that they are safe from what they did. They are dead on wrong. Others who demand the truth have their eye on the ball and know what this means to all of us, beyond the institution of ATF.

This will ultimately go well beyond the facts and evidence of what was done to me and my family. I promise each of you that I will seek accountablity for every last single person who acted corruptly, regardless of their role or actions during this lawsuit. No one will ever have to go through what they put me through if there is anything I can do about it. And I can.


Lessons From Mike

I am blessed with six nieces and a nephew ages 10 to 16. Each one of them is beautiful and unique. They have spent their entire lives under relentless harassment from “Uncle Jay”. No level of teasing or torment has been off limits – except for an occasional rolling of the eyes from their moms and dads (and grandparents) – but always with love and affection in my heart.

My nephew is a bad ass little baseball player. Like any athlete who strives for greatness he is self-critical and overly hard on himself. Mistakes and set backs are sometimes even harder for a 10-year-old to process and understand. When your world is catching and hitting baseballs every time you don’t can be shattering. The great ones don’t let failures slow them down.

Below is a message of encouragement to him citing the example of the greatest athlete and performer in the history of sports, Michael Jordan. Many are more eloquent than me but, the theme works whether you are 10 or 110.


From: Jay Dobyns
Sent: Friday, June 20, 2014 10:16 AM
To: ‘Baller’
Subject: Message from Uncle Jay

Hey boy! Hear you are kicking major butt! Here is Jay’s sports lesson for the day.

Great performers have short memories. They forget failures and mistakes almost instantly. Why? Because the biggest mistake you can make is allowing the last play to affect your next one. Make sense? In sports mistakes are made. No one in the history of sports has ever played a perfect game. It is not possible even though you should try for it. Probably the greatest athlete of all time is Michael Jordan. He was as close to perfect as anyone in sports has ever been.

This is a great quote from the all time greatest, Michael. Remember no one has ever been better at their sport than he was:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Never let a bad play allow you to make another bad play because you were upset about the last one.

I thought you would like this picture (below). It is of me fumbling the ball against the University of Washington in 1984. I was very mad at myself. It was one of the first plays of the game. It hurt my team. I shook it off and went on to catch 8 passes that day.

Forget mistakes or bad plays or things that upset you. Then go out and do something spectacular on the next play. And if that doesn’t happen, try again for the next, and the next and the next.

I love you and you have a huge fan here in me. GO HAVE FUN!!!!!!!




Golden Rule

I received the below message today from a peer at ATF. It reassured me that the way I did my job was worthwhile. I always tried to extend dignity to people arrested behind my investigations. I never thumbed my nose or mocked someone in handcuffs who just had their life crash before their eyes because I happened to become involved. I had a job to do. I did it to the best of ability. People make mistakes. Some of our mistakes are bigger than others. We are all ultimately held accountable for what we say and do. Although I found satisfaction in good investigations I never found joy in an individual’s failures.


Hey Jay how are you doing? I wanted to relate a funny thing that happened to me yesterday. I was at a plumbing supply house having pipe cut and threaded to build a “mock up” [inert] device for training when the store clerk, asked if I was making pipe bombs and wondered if he should he notify the police. So of course I identified myself as a law enforcement officer.

He then asked, “Do you know Jay Bird?” I responded with do you mean Jay Dobyns and followed with how do you know Jay? He stated that he was “not always a good guy but Jay always treated me with respect and dignity, and it was horrible what ATF did to him after putting his life on the line so many times to take down truly bad people”.

I kind of sat back and thought, what an awesome testament to your character and integrity, coming from an individual that you apparently had dealings with and perhaps may have even arrested or attributed to his arrest.

I felt proud to know you at that moment in time and would hope that sometime in the future someone would make the same comment about me.


Flattered Beyond Imagination

So I become acquainted with one of my favorite actors, Barry Pepper, on a film project. You will recognize him from Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, 61*, We Were Soldiers, True Grit and many, many more. Before I met him I thought his work was spectacularly understated. By that I mean that he plays important roles in films and always seems to steal the scenes he is in; even when on camera with the heavyweights. What was really enjoyable was to experience what a genuine person he is. Very humble and gracious and interesting and full of questions. In our conversations he told me that he used my “look” for his role as Agent Cooper in the movie Snitch – had a smile on my face for a week straight.


Then I learned that actor Joe Manganiello was inspired by my appearance for his role as Grinder in the movie Sabotage. He hit big with his role in Magic Mike and is on the cover of nearly every fitness magazine on the shelves (he obviously chose someone else to mimic when carving his abs, I have one big round ‘ab’).

“Manganiello based Grinder’s appearance on Jay Dobyns, an undercover ATF agent who documented his time with the Hell’s Angels in the book “No Angel.” The pictures of this guy were just this thick necked linebacker looking [guy], covered in tattoos,” Manganiello said. “He looked like the scariest guy on the planet and not like a cop. So I always thought that.”


Later I become acquainted with Gerard Butler – King Leonidas in 300, Law Abiding Citizen, Olympus Has Fallen – I am writing on a film he is staring in. He too is one of the most down to earth regular people you would ever come across. I gave him a copy of No Angel and he got caught by the paparazzi coming out of Dan Tana’s with it.

Gerry and Jay

And of course, my friend, Director Tony Scott (RIP) – Top Gun, True Romance, Crimson Tide, Man on Fire, Deja Vu, etc., etc. etc., here with my son Jack (2007). Wonderful man. Period.


Moral of the story – some times it pays to look like a dirtbag.




I have stated publicly and privately many times that I am a very flawed Christian. I write this with both honesty and shame for falling short of who I should be. I was raised Catholic so I have a built in guilty conscience to boot (haha).

I have had several conversations over the last couple days with people who feel that they are at the end of their ropes. Personally, I often ask for answers and guidance but I’m not very good at seeing the signs. I get lost reading road maps as well so that explains part of it. Out of the blue I was sent this message from Joel Osteen’s website and it made me smile. I thought I’d post it and maybe someone else will enjoy it as well.


“Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.”
(Isaiah 61:7, NIV)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria

In the Old Testament, God’s people were going through a very difficult time. They were being held captive against their will and mistreated by other nations. God sent this word to encourage them and give them hope for their future. When the time came, God was faithful to His Word!

Are you going through a difficult time today? Let this word bring you encouragement, too. We serve a God who goes above and beyond our expectations. He wants to give you double for your trouble. He wants to bring you restoration and make things even better than before.

If you are facing challenges today or going through a time of adversity, remember, it’s always darkest just before the dawn appears. Your days are destined to shine brighter because God is faithful. As you stay in faith and are obedient to His Word, you’ll receive double for your trouble and see God go above and beyond in every area of your life!


Father, thank You for Your faithfulness in my life. Thank You for directing and ordering my steps. I know that You will give me double for my trouble as I keep my heart and mind stayed on You in Jesus’ name. Amen.


The Missing Voice

(Above) ATF Undercover Agents circa 2002 with BlackHawk Down Super Six-Four Pilot Michael Durant and Jay Dobyns

I was invited to be a guest columnist at This is a big deal inside the beltway. Congress and Judges read this site every day. They published a piece I wrote tonight. Trying to take up for my boys in the undercover world from the public ass beating they’ve been taking. And no, I’m not “sleeping with the enemy”. I never stopped loving the men and women of ATF who put their lives at risk for us. I will never go along with the cowards who can’t find the stones to do the right thing.

The Missing Voice of Undercover Agents
Jay Dobyns | Jun 12, 2014

Editor’s note: This is a Townhall exclusive.

The public and political debate surrounding law enforcement’s use of undercover techniques and tradecraft has become very heated as of late, most especially those employed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). My commentary is primarily focused within the universe of ATF because that is where my experience is based.

I write with no agenda other than to provide some balance and a voice to those without one – good and honest undercover agents who risk their lives so others can be safe. My thoughts are not conservative or liberal. They are not anti-gun, or pro-gun. They are not Republican, Democrat, race or ethnicity driven. My viewpoints are not based in academic study. I do not have an advanced degree in law or criminal justice. What I do have is a Ph.D. in undercover work derived from twenty-seven years of having lived it.

Criticisms are being waged from judges, lawyers, academics and reporters. There is an important voice that has been left out; the undercover operatives themselves. By “left out” I do not mean excluded. Reporters seeking balance try to obtain the views of the “undercovers.” So why do we not hear from them? If they are not “storming the gates” to defend themselves they must be guilty of the allegations?

Frankly, they get stonewalled and replaced for comment and testimony by executives who don’t understand the process, believing an elevated title makes them the expert. The next time an ATF manager voices a strong public opinion on anything will be the first time. When the undercovers are allowed to speak on the record, which is rare, their responses are “coached” and “scrubbed” by the public relations division. Further, being “undercover” they risk compromising current or future assignments. As a result one side of the story is publicly told – the attacking side – with the subjects of the attacks bound and gagged from defending themselves. Who has their backs? No one does.

With ATF’s management unwilling to come out and defend their street agents, I will try to take advantage of this brief platform to explain what is not being said and provide a real-world explanation of the decisions made behind the tradecraft.

ATF management is terrified of three things: the Media, Congress, and the Courts. Why? In my opinion they are our allies. Rather than defend allegations using truths and facts to counter misinformation they opt for silence (and sometimes cover-u,p but that is a debate for another day). Through naivety or cowardice, in some cases both, they’ve come to believe this strategy is the safest. Their historical pattern and practice reaction to negative attention is to batten down the hatches and wait for the storm to blow over. Their knee-jerk response to criticism is “shut it down” panic, thus, non-law enforcement critics dictate policy and procedure to ATF and America becomes a less-safe place. They simply do not have the testicular fortitude to intelligently explain, “This is what we do. This how we do it. This is why we do it and we intend to continue doing it.” It is not in their DNA.

Any public relations executive would advise ATF’s leadership to get in front of groundswell negativisms with honesty, accuracy and accountability. Acknowledge mistakes before your feet are held to the fire, taking meaningful and positive steps to fix and prevent them from reoccurring. But, opening your mouth at ATF results in having it punched closed and being handed a ticket for a fast trip on a slow boat to places undesired. First learning of mistakes through media reports, as ATF’s Executives have admitted is these cases, is entirely unacceptable and unimaginable for those running a federal law enforcement agency.

Have mistakes been made? Absolutely yes. Policing, and more so undercover policing, is a world with no guarantees. Having been involved in over five-hundred undercover operations (I retired in January), makes me an expert in mistakes. I don’t carry a torch for perfection because I was never able to achieve that. The difference between me and management? I was accountable for my words and actions.

Are there undercover agents who should not be involved in implementing the tradecraft? Yes, not every lawman or woman is good at it. Decisions are fluid, spontaneous and often carry life and death consequences. They require immediate, experience based calculation. A misstep comes with the fear that your career will conclude licking stamps in the mailroom or handing out paperclips. It is not a life for those weak in spirit. But, an overwhelmingly vast majority of ATF’s undercovers are consummate law enforcement professionals. We rarely hear about them. The standards of undercover tradecraft have been elevated to incredible levels of efficiency and production by these men and women. Today’s undercovers are able to sit in the witness box during an afternoon trial wearing coat and tie debating brilliant defense attorneys, and then morph into their street persona and be equally dynamic amidst thugs and thieves that night. To do that right takes a uniqueness that few possess.

Allow me a brief history lesson. After the September 11 terrorist attacks resulted in a restructuring of government, ATF was realigned under the United States Department of Justice and tasked with the responsibility of investigating domestic violent crimes. ATF does more high-risk undercover work towards that mission than any other federal law enforcement agency in the world. For each highlighted mistake dozens if not hundreds of crime guns and vicious felons are removed from our streets. No one appears willing to credit or discuss that, not even the agencies shotcallers.

Undercover agents and officers should not be confused with plain clothes lawmen where much of today’s policing is conducted. Out-of-uniform officers must identify themselves as policemen when executing their authorities. Undercover operatives assume false identities and often remain “in role” in the midst of crimes. In the purest sense, they often engage in authorized and limited illegal events to obtain criminal evidence while protecting their fabricated “cover”.

The best way for me address the criticized situations is to “rip from the headlines” the topics under scrutiny. These appear to be the Top 5 complaints:


When Eugène François Vidocq first employed undercover policing in 19th Century France to date, courts in the U.S. and abroad have ruled that police deception and trickery is not a violation of one’s rights.

We do have the right to live freely without an ever present and suffocating fear of violence. That is very often not the case in many of our communities.


ATF does not target downtrodden neighborhoods, they proactively work in areas with the most violence. Most of the demoralized neighborhoods I have worked in are filled with good, honest and loving people who want nothing more than a fighting chance, some hope, to exist without danger. I always considered it my honor and privilege to go toe-to-toe with violence on their behalf.

An elderly woman should be able to walk down the sidewalk without the risk of being beaten for her purse. A young child should be able to play on the front porch without concern for the bullets from a drive-by. A mother should be able to pump gas in her car without the fear that it will be stolen with her baby in the car seat. A man, young or old, of any race, needs to be able to use an ATM machine without having to press the buttons on the keypad with one eye while looking over his shoulder for an armed robbery with the other.

ATF’s undercovers are colorblind. They do not see black, white or brown. They do not see economic pressures nor should they be asked to consider them. They see violence. They hunt for it. They stalk the stalkers. They identify the sources of violence and attack it. If you have violent intentions ATF’s undercovers want to shake your hand and discuss it.

Many people in the U.S. have fallen on difficult times. Some of those live in impoverished communities. Even fewer, – actually very few of those affected, – resort to predatory crimes of violence to resolve their burdens.

If violence was raging in affluent lily-white areas like Fischer Island, Florida or Baker, Missouri or Rancho Santa Fe, California, ATF would set up undercover shop there. It isn’t. Where the violence is overwhelming and where the risks to citizens are the greatest is where ATF butters their bread; places like Oakland, St. Louis and Detroit.


It is tragic that violent crime exists near schools, churches and day care centers. Reality proves that it does and is there before ATF ever arrives on the scene. Establishing an undercover base of operations always first considers the safety of “the innocents”, then the safety of the agents and the suspects. We always place a high priority on everyone’s well being but we also go where the action is. Those violent environments are established for us, not by us. There is one true way to engage it and that is head-on.

I cannot speak directly for the people in these neighborhoods. I live in a very safe and peaceful area. I don’t hear gunshots at night and my children played safely. I would think it reasonable though for people who have generations of family living in one neighborhood and with no desire to leave their roots regardless of the environment or, for the people who are trapped in these neighborhoods without the means to escape – ask them if they want ATF’s proactive undercover presence investigating and arresting the sources of the violence they deal with every day and night.

That is why the undercovers leave their own families and homes, sometimes in very nice, safe and comfortable communities, to live and work amidst the crime. No one is going to pin a medal on their chest or give them a handshake and a thank you for what they do. They go anyway.

If not for ATF’s undercovers planting themselves in these areas then who? Who will stand up for innocent victims? The reporters who attack the operations? The prosecutors who are intimidated by the risk of undercover techniques? The defense attorneys who argue entrapment? The legislators? The judges who turn criminals loose after they join a conspiracy to commit a violent crime? Trust me, those people don’t live these neighborhoods, they just talk about them from the safety of suburbia.


I am not going to defend any police operation seeking out a person who is not at full mental capacity to offer unwitting assistance. We as an agency and as individual agents are better than that.

But, if a person of diminished intelligence volunteers himself into an covert police operation, should their violence, or potential for it, give them a free pass? Are you “less dead” if the bullet that struck you was fired from the hand of someone handicapped vs. someone healthy?

Based on many of the current public arguments suggesting undercover operations take a “hands off” approach when encountering persons with a mental or emotion handicap – using that reasoning – had ATF’s undercovers encountered Eric Harris and Dylan Klybold, Jared Loughner, James Eagan Holmes, Jeffrey Weise, Seung-Hui Cho, Adam Lanza or Elliot Rodger; they would have been prevented from further investigative action. Each were mass murderers using firearms and determined to have varying levels of mental disturbance. It’s not the gun that commits the crime, it’s the hand of a twisted mind holding it. ATF’s undercovers pursue both.

Ask the families of the victims, their friends, their communities, even the friends and families of the gunmen if they would have preferred that the shooters had first encountered an ATF undercover agent. If we could, ask the victims. With all the crime guns purchased and seized and the all the suspects with bad intent who possess them arrested under these operations, imagine for a moment the potential for many more tragedies that have been prevented by ATF’s undercover work.

Great policing is not only reactionary, it is also disrupting, preventative and proactive.


If the common man or woman reading this were provided an opportunity to join a criminal conspiracy and that scheme involved recruiting your like-minded friends, bringing with you firearms all knowing that you may very well encounter a violent exchange while robbing drugs and money; regardless of your economic hardships what would you do? Now consider that opportunity was presented by someone you didn’t know or never met. All of us would not only be running the other direction, we would be dialing 9-1-1 in the process.

The suspects in these cases do not do that. They embrace these opportunities. They jump at them with zealotry. It is depressing to watch that process take place with your own eyes. Once their crew is built to “hit a lick” they arrive with an intent to kill possessing all types of firearms (and trust me a half-rusted, twenty-dollar .38 will kill you just as dead as a military grade assault rifle), knives, batons, ballistic body armor, fake police badges, rubber gloves and ski masks. And they are entrapped? Do they not possess the free will, logic, reason or common sense to not only say, “no” but, “hell no”?

A flaw in attacking the home invasion cases is, “My client was never involved in narcotics robberies until he met Agent X”. The catch is that the “sting” is not designed only to investigate and arrest drug thieves. It is employed to proactively ferret out violent criminals willing and anxious to commit more violence, interrupting that process. By the defense’s reasoning ATF would be required to produce a fake rape victim to investigate a rapist, a fake building to investigate an arsonist, or offer a fake murder target to investigate a hitman.

When properly executed the H.I. (Home Invasion) tactic provides suspects ample opportunities to remove themselves from the scheme. Most don’t. When they do the undercovers move on. There is plenty of violence in our streets to investigate without tricking someone to engage in it.

I will personally take the arrest of willing, able and enthusiastic marauder before they act, rather than after. The “after” is most surely coming and it is incredibly real. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next month or even next year but, for the suspects who willingly participate in H.I. stings – it is coming. They are on the prowl and they will find that “lick” whether it be made available through an undercover operation or not. You can take that to the bank.

Jay Dobyns is a retired ATF agent and author of No Angel, My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels. He has received two ATF Gold Star awards for injuries received in the line of duty and the Attorney General’s Medal of Valor.