Monthly Archives: September 2015

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A good ATF / DOJ story from me… for a change

I have not held my tongue regarding the corruption at ATF and DOJ so this post will surprise many.

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PART I: In the mid-90’s a person I will refer to as “Gangster X“, an Aryan Brotherhood prison gang member, helped me and my partner, now retired ATF Special Agent Louis Quinonez, infiltrate a Southern Arizona element of the AB’s. The case was titled Operation Rooster and over the course of 100 days we purchased (undercover) 100 Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) of all types, rudimentary to sophisticated – home made garage workshop bombs that were being sold to us in our roles as debt collectors and contract killers.

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The case title came from the Alice in Chains song Rooster because we had so many life and death close calls during the infil. We were running alongside some really dangerous boys.

“Yeah they come to snuff the rooster
You know we ain’t gonna die
No, no, no, ya, no we ain’t gonna die”

Our investigation came to an abrupt and premature end when one of the suspects we had been buying pipe bombs from – Eric “Stubby” Padilla – murdered a man named John Robertson in the desert outside of Tucson. A day later and believing that Lou and I were murderers for hire, we met with Stubby’s girlfriend who gave us clothes covered in Robertson’s blood asking us to destroy the evidence. Not so fast…

We used the girlfriend to re-establish telephone contact with Stubby who had left the state.

We joined forces with Detectives from the Pima County Sheriffs Department and built a plan to return Stubby to Tucson. Stubby told us he was hold-up in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Lou and I sold Stubby on the ruse that we were scheduled to air-drop a pot load in the desert outside of Albuquerque. We told him that on our return to Tucson we would pick him up, bring him home, find him fake ID’s, intimidate potential witnesses and help him hide until things cooled out.

This op was a high-risk and dangerous. The executives from ATF and the Sheriff’s Department showed the stones of old school cops allowing their people to fly hundreds of miles from home in a small plane posing as drug runners with no cover team to grab up a known murderer.

In today’s world of cautious law enforcement where street-smart cops are overridden by in-house attorneys who make tactical public safety decisions based on potential liability exposure to their coward bosses careers, this plan would be dropped faster than you could say Eric Holder.

It was also a bold demonstration of federal and local law enforcement working together, placing themselves in harms way, to protect a community with no care or concern for who got the credit.

That night Deputy Rick Pierson piloted a Cessna 210 towards New Mexico with Lou and I on board to close the deal. Rick, himself a Narc, looked like a drug pilot should. We put down in the dead of night on an runway invisible without our landing light.  In his rush and excitement to greet his “friends” Stubby nearly ran face first into a three-bladed, turbo-charged propeller; saved only by Rick’s quick thinking and expert piloting as he performed a 90-degree pivot turn a moment before Ol’ Stub took steel in the teeth at 2000 rpm’s.

Once on board the 50 pound marijuana bale strategically placed in the cargo area made our lie to Stubby even smell real (no detail too small in the street game). During our flight home Stubby confessed the entire murder over the airplanes Dave Clark headsets. Once we landed at Tucson International, Stubby was arrested by the Sheriff Department’s Homicide Squad.

Legendary Tucson prosecutor Rick Unklesbay handled the case. Lou and I were called back to the courtroom to hear the jury’s verdict before we could finish a cup of coffee. It took them all of 20 minutes to give Stubby 25 to Life.

Moral of the story – don’t murder people.

Gangster X earned himself a reduction on his sentence and exited prison a free man having made possibly his lone positive contribution to society.

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PART II: In 2013, Gangster X resurfaced, once again taking up residence at the crossbar hotel. He was a bit peeved that I didn’t try to help him out of a new and improved 18 year conviction. In his mind I still owed him more favors for the AB case he assisted in 20 years earlier. Truth be told, he didn’t have a hand in the Stubby Padilla investigation beyond arranging the handshakes. But, in his infinite wisdom Gangster X issued a murder contract on me and then thought it would be a good idea to tell me about it in a letter; a) what he thought of me and my reputation; b) that he was intending to murder prison guards; and, c) the he was recruiting Aryan Brotherhood wannabe’s to murder me in exchange for an AB shamrock skinpatch.

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“I hope you have time to remember me before their bullet hits your punk ass brain.”

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Part III: This afternoon Gangster X entered a guilty plea in Federal court admitting to writing the letter, “knowingly and intentionally making the threats“, and to placing the letter in the United States mail.

In his wildest nightmares I doubt he ever considered spending a significant chunk of his life incarcerated behind a lick for Title 18 United States Code § 876(c) – Mailing a Threatening Communication.

Gangster X’s position as a jail warrior and his influence over the AB’s must have diminished over time since I am still here today to write this post. Looks like he didn’t have any takers so unless he decides to give himself a jackrabbit parole and climb some razor wire to come find me himself, I’d guess I’m safe – at least until 2026-ish.

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So, here’s the good part and in all honesty I’m happy to give credit where credit is due. Of the dozens of murder and violence threats I’ve received and ATF intentionally and repeatedly scuttling them, they got this one right! The stars lined up for me in three extraordinary lawmen.

ATF Phoenix Special Agent in Charge Tom Atteberry made sure that he did what his predecessors and current executives could not, and would not do – demand and support a comprehensive and thorough investigation. Atteberry even drove to Tucson today to personally witness Gangster X’s plea. Class move.

Atteberry had assigned ATF Special Agent Creighton Brandt to lead the investigation. Brandt was diligent in every detail working above and beyond to build an airtight case. He conducted himself like I know great ATF agents can, and still do. He was brilliant.

DOJ Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Cassell showed both tactical patience and legal expertise to bring about today’s pleading. A good and honest attorney at the house of justice.

There were 7 of us in court. Cassell and Brandt at the prosecutors table. Gangster X and his attorney at the defense’s. Atteberry, Unklesbay and I in the audience. I wanted to look Gangster X in the eye and let him know I was still here, unafraid, now, in the past or in the future. I was surrounded by the men who helped give me that opportunity.

It was truly a heartwarming day. The circumstances were unpleasant but given the hatred that ATF and DOJ hold for me, Atteberry, Brandt and Cassell had the integrity to rise above the fray and the noise displaying consummate professionalism. Unlike many of their peers they refused to buy-in to the propaganda spewed by their leadership and quite simply did their jobs exceeding well. They actually cared about me. Given my life today and relationship with ATF and DOJ, that felt weird, different, odd – but wow – it was a nice and welcomed change. I am grateful.

On this day I was proud again to have been an ATF Agent.

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Liars, Cheaters, Cowards and Sissies (aka DOJ)

You Decide:

(If you look through the “Key Players” sidebar attachment to the story, isn’t it amazing that the pictures posted of Bill Newell and George Gillett are of them proudly displaying firearms during their catastrophic Operation Fast and Furious debacle?  It actually isn’t.  These are the misfits that DOJ and ATF backed in their attempt to trainwreck me.  Den of Thieves.)

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/investigations/2015/09/03/records-indicate-doj-execs-aware-misconduct-alleged-atf-case/71625076/

Records indicate DOJ execs aware of misconduct alleged in ATF case

Paul Giblin, The Republic | azcentral.com 9 p.m. MST September 2, 2015

Top U.S. Department of Justice officials withheld information from a federal judge about judicial irregularities in a high-profile lawsuit against the ATF, according to recently unsealed court documents.

The disclosures are contained in thousands of pages of court records unsealed Aug. 12 in the case of retired undercover agent Jay Dobyns, who infiltrated the Hells Angels motorcycle gang.

Dobyns sued the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for failing to properly investigate an arson at his Tucson home on Aug. 10, 2008, and for neglecting to protect him and his family against death threats.

The Justice Department oversees ATF and other federal law-enforcement agencies.

Unsealed records show Stuart Delery, now the No. 3 person at the DOJ, and Jeanne Davidson, who has been nominated for a federal judgeship, did not notify the judge in response to e-mails telling them a DOJ attorney tried to scuttle plans to reopen the botched arson investigation.

Electronic e-mail receipts from their accounts were sent, indicating someone saw the e-mails.

E-mails also show Davidson participated in discussions with subordinates about whether to tell the trial judge that an ATF supervisor possibly threatened an ATF internal-affairs agent whose testimony helped Dobyns.

James Reed, Dobyns’ attorney, said Delery and Davidson were ethically and legally obligated to report the possible witness and evidence tampering.

Delery and Davidson declined comment because the matter still is in litigation, said DOJ spokesman Patrick Rodenbush.

Rodenbush noted that a court-appointed “special master” investigated several incidents of possible misconduct during the trial, but concluded government officials’ actions did not constitute fraud on the court.

The special master, retired U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola, recommended on July 23 that the trial judge’s original opinion stand, because the possible misconduct did not appear to taint the trial judge’s opinion.

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Former federal agent Jay Dobyns, left, with his attorney, Jim Reed, at Reed’s office in Phoenix on Friday, July 31, 2015. (Photo: Michael Schennum/The Republic)

Facciola noted that the matter of whether government attorneys and ATF executives should face discipline could be addressed in other venues.

The trial judge, Federal Claims Judge Francis M. Allegra, ruled in Dobyns’ favor last year, awarding him $173,000, a fraction of the $1.7 million he sought.

Federal Claims Chief Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith, who has taken over the case, has yet to indicate whether she will accept Facciola’s recommendation.

It is uncertain what, if any, repercussions Delery, Davidson or other DOJ officials could face in light of the newly unsealed documents.

Delery was the DOJ’s senior supervising counsel during the Dobyns case. He now serves as DOJ acting associate attorney general, which is the agency’s third-ranking official.

Davidson also held a supervisory role during the Dobyns case. She now serves as director of the DOJ’s Offices of Foreign Litigation and International Legal Assistance, and has been nominated to a judgeship on the U.S. Court of International Trade.

DOJ attorneys are held to an extraordinary high standard, said Paul Charlton, who served six years as the U.S. attorney for Arizona and 10 years as an assistant U.S. attorney.

“The lawyers within the Department of Justice, unlike lawyers who represent private litigants, are supposed to advocate for the truth and nothing more. Your client is justice in a literal sense, it’s the right outcome, it’s the right thing to do,” Charlton said.

DOJ and ATF executives wanted to make an example of Dobyns, because he was one of a select few agents to publicly challenge ATF decision makers about unethical and improper actions, said retired ATF Agent Vince Cefalu of Lake Tahoe, Calif.

The years-long legal fight was the result, Cefalu said.

“What they do is they grind down until you can’t take it no more and you say, ‘Alright, I’ll stop. I’ll drop it. I’ll stop being a fool. I won’t talk anymore to the public or to the media or to the Congress or to anybody,’ ” Cefalu said.

Testimony during the Dobyns trial last summer showed ATF attorney Valerie Bacon attempted to influence ATF Special Agent in Charge Thomas Atteberry about plans to reopen the investigation of the arson at Dobyns’ home, because it could damage the ATF’s defense in the case.

Reed, Dobyns’ attorney, informed Delery, Davidson and other government attorneys of Bacon’s conduct.

In an e-mail on May 14, 2014, Reed insisted DOJ attorneys investigate, disclose and prosecute or punish everyone involved in what he called “the attempted criminal obstruction of justice by Valerie Bacon.”

The newly unsealed documents include e-mail read-receipts indicating people with access to Delery’s and Davidson’s e-mail accounts opened Reed’s e-mails.

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Assistant coach Jay Dobyns chats up the team before the Salpointe Catholic vs. Gilbert Campo Verde high school football game at Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson. Photo taken Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. (Photo: Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star)

Reed said he knew about Bacon’s actions before trial because Atteberry informed Dobyns, who in turn told Reed.

Atteberry, the ATF’s special agent in charge, testified: “I had a phone conversation, and I also believe I talked to her in person one time when she was in Phoenix, and I believe during the telephone conversation she made a comment to me that if you — meaning myself — reopen the investigation, that would damage our civil case.”

Allegra, the trial judge, clearly thought the incident warranted investigation.

He ordered his opinion served on then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and two federal oversight agencies, accompanied by a transmittal letter pointing out Bacon’s actions and the government attorneys’ failure to disclose them.

However, the special master determined Delery’s and Davidson’s involvement — or non-involvement — had no impact on the trial judge’s ability to make an informed ruling. The special master reasoned Bacon’s attempt to sway Atteberry failed, so the trial unfolded as if it never happened.

The special master’s investigation also showed that several layers of DOJ attorneys, including Davidson, were aware of reported threats against ATF Internal Affairs Agent Christopher Trainor.

Trainor investigated Dobyns’ complaints that ATF supervisors improperly stripped him of his covert identification and purposely mismanaged the investigation of an arson at his home.

Trainor’s finding cast a trio of ATF supervisors, including Tucson chief Charles Higman, in a poor light.

Midway through the three-week trial, Higman left Trainor a voice mail in a “confrontational and antagonistic” tone that Trainor considered a threat. The same day, someone stuffed a construction cone into the tailpipe of Trainor’s vehicle.

Later, Trainor called Higman about the voice mail. Higman said no threat was intended. “That’s ridiculous. Why would I do that? I don’t even know you,” Higman replied, according to a transcript of the call.

Trainor reported the contact to an ATF attorney and DOJ lead trial attorney David Harrington. Harrington told him that the calls were not relevant to the case, according to court records.

Trainor disagreed and told Harrington that he planned to report the threat directly to the trial judge. Harrington twice told Trainor he should think long and hard about what that would mean for his career, according to court records.

DOJ attorneys exchanged more than two dozen e-mails discussing whether to disclose the matter to the trial judge.

Eventually, they decided to withhold the information, swayed in part by Harrington’s views that testimony about the arson was complete, Higman said his message was not a threat, and Trainor had withdrawn his demand to tell the judge.

Davidson, the high-ranking DOJ official, told the others in a July 21, 2013, e-mail what portion of the exchange would be important for the judge to know. She didn’t view the reported threat by Higman important, so the trial continued without the judge learning about it.

After the trial concluded, Trainor told the trial judge about Higman’s and Harrington’s comments. That led the judge to request the special master to investigate.

Trainor, who retired last year, declined comment.

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Salpointe Catholic assistant football coach Jay Dobyns (with tablet) is a former UA football player and former ATF agent who went undercover with the Hells Angels. (Photo: David Sanders/Arizona Daily Star)

None of the behind-the-scenes activity mattered, according to special master Facciola, because they failed to influence the trial judge’s decision.

Facciola wrote: “There was a decision made, based on legal principles and strategic judgments, that there was no reason to bring the alleged threats to the attention of the court. It bears emphasis that the wisdom of that decision is not the special master’s concern.”

Dobyns’ attorney said justice would be better served if everyone involved was deposed.

“The U.S. Department of Justice is supposed to be the gold standard of ethics,” Reed said. “They are supposed to go above and beyond their pursuit of ethical obligations by seeking the truth, regardless of whether or not it hurts the federal government.”

Retired undercover ATF Agent Louie Quinonez of Scottsdale said he believes the case has been driven by professional jealousy. Dobyns was one of the agency’s most effective undercover agents, but certain officials didn’t appreciate the risks he took nor the contributions he made.

ATF decision makers tried to quiet Dobyns for questioning decisions, Quinonez said. “If anyone asks me, ‘Should I stand up to the agency on this issue?’ I’d be inclined to tell them, ‘Don’t do anything. Keep your mouth shut and take it — or they will destroy you,’ ” Quinonez said.