WASHINGTON — The Inept Criminal is by now a well-established and extensively chronicled archetype, with whole Web sites devoted to the misadventures of dumb, stupid and just plain crazy law-breakers. But law enforcement has its own share of bunglers, and Sphere believes they deserve attention, too. Herewith, a sampling of some of the federal officers who ran afoul of statutes, and common sense, this past year.
Yo Quiero Peace and Quiet
Even their biggest fans would concede that those lovable Chihuahuas (Taco Bell pitchmen and otherwise) can be a little annoying at times. Well, Waco, Texas, FBI agent Lovett Leslie Ledger decided to put a stop to the yapping of his neighbor’s Chihuahua, Sassy, in 2008 by shooting Sassy with a pellet gun. The barking ended, but Ledger’s troubles had just begun. Earlier this year, he pleaded no contest to a felony charge for animal cruelty and was put on two years’ probation and given 300 hours of community service. He also became the target of an internal probe and left the FBI in October.
Unlike Tiger Woods, FBI agent John Guandolo actually went to the trouble of making his own record of his extramarital relations, compiling a list of the indiscretions at the suggestion of his therapist, who thought the exercise would help Guandolo assess the damage his philandering had done to his marriage. As it turned out, said list included female FBI agents, as well as a key witness in the public corruption case of ex-Rep. William Jefferson. Worse still, a co-worker found the list and turned it over to a supervisor late last year. Guandolo quit, but in June, the U.S. attorney’s office learned of the memo and notified the court shortly before the Jefferson trial began, which in turn led to the memo’s going public in September.
In 2002, in the line of duty, FBI agent Joe L. Gordwin of Phoenix arrested a man as part of gang investigation. Then, stepping way over the line, he started having an affair with the man’s wife. Two years later, the husband got out of prison, and the affair was briefly put on hold; when it resumed, Gordwin tipped off Scottsdale, Ariz., police that the husband was again up to no good. The husband, along with his son, was arrested for a robbery at a Radio Shack; Gordwin, now fearing the husband was going to rat him out, decided to confess the sordid sage to his supervisor. Told to end the affair, Gordwin instead told his mistress to lie to investigators. Gordwin pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges linked to covering up the improper sexual relationship and received four years probation.
Not a Hollywood Ending
Dapper FBI agent Mark Rossini leaked a secret FBI document to his girlfriend, actress Linda Fiorentino, who in turn gave it to the attorney for rogue detective Anthony Pellicano, who went on trial for illegally wiretapping some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Pellicano was convicted anyway; Rossini lost his $140,000 a year FBI job, and, contrary to the stereotypical celluloid plotline, also lost the girl: Eventually it was splitsville for him and Fiorentino.
Spinner Out of Control
FBI spokeswoman Lori Bailey was the voice of the bureau down in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but on this case, she had little to say. In September, she pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges stemming from a 2008 arrest, which KRLD news radio reported came after she caused a wrong-way crash on the Dallas North Tollway while driving at a high rate of speed. Having stepped down from her post shortly after the arrest, she was sentenced to probation and fined $900.
Testing Their Luck
Cheating on an exam is one thing; cheating on an open-book exam, quite another. But such is the focus of an internal investigation into whether three top agents in the FBI’s Washington field office — head of the office Joseph Persichini Jr. and special agents in charge Keith Bryars and Andrew Castor — worked together on the test and also got help from an FBI lawyer, in violation of bureau policy.Persichini, who was already planning to retire soon, is leaving Dec. 25. Word has it the two other agents may get demoted and reassigned to offices in Virginia and Maryland.
Hold the ICE
Richard P. Cramer was a high-ranking Immigration and Customs Enforcement official who worked along the border between Arizona and Guadalajara, Mexico. Unfortunately, say the feds, he was also working for the wrong side. Cramer left ICE in 2007, but in September, authorities arrested him for allegedly having helped large-scale drug traffickers smuggle cocaine into the U.S. by providing them with inside info. Authorities also allege that it was the drug smuggling organization that convinced Cramer to retire — so he could get directly involved with its drug-running and money-laundering businesses.