By Allan Lengel
A federal judge gave what former ATF agent Jay Dobyns seemed to want most: Vindication.
The Arizona Republic writes that U.S. Federal Claims Judge Francis M. Allegra of D.C. ruled in a lawsuit filed by Dobyns that ATF failed to properly respond to death threats against him after he infiltrated the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, then reneged on previous agreements to address his complaints. In 2008, his house was set afire.
The ruling, unsealed Tuesday, awarded Dobyns of Tucson $173,000 for emotional stress caused by ATF, the paper reported.
The paper also reported that the judge denied the government’s counterclaims for royalties from Dobyns’ book, No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels, and the films rights to the book, which are held by 20th Century Fox.
The $173,000 award fell far short of what he had sought. But he said he was pleased, nonetheless, with the ruling.
Dobyns wrote on his blog:
“I will not seize upon this opportunity to gloat or celebrate. From my view there is nothing to rejoice in. This is a sad day for my beloved ATF, the Department of Justice and all who believe in and support America’s law enforcement officers.”
“The title of the lawsuit alone — Dobyns v. USA — is humiliating for me. I never stood against the USA; only the corruption and abuse that infect parts of ATF and DOJ in leadership. I blew the whistle on that corruption. For that I was severely punished and left undefended.”
Dobyns also wrote in his blog:
Today, Judge Allegra describes ATF as an agency with, “organizational weaknesses, the inability of agency officials to supervise and control, and of demonstrated misfeasance – all rooted in the sorry failure of some ATF officials”. Further he wrote, “the story of how Agent Dobyns was treated is neither entertaining nor an easy read.”
Judge Allegra wrote in his opinion that Marino Vidoli, Steve Pugmire and Bill Newell, “ignored information about threats to Agent Dobyns and his family”, that, “the removal of the fictitious identification put Agent Dobyns and his family at risk”, that there was “no valid reason” for ATF’s failure to support us. The court wrote that the conduct of Vidoli was “unprecedented as the only instance in which Vidoli ever withdrew backstopping issued to an ATF employee.”
In 2007, Dobyns won a $373,000 award against ATF after it was concluded that the agencies failed to take proper action to keep him safe.
ATF issued a statement that was posted on The Phoenix New Times:
“We have received and are reviewing with the Department of Justice the Court’s decision in Dobyns v. United States. We cannot, however, further comment on this case because portions of the litigation are still pending, including matters that may be appealed by the parties.”