By Steve Neavling
The former chief of the Knoxville FBI office is suing the bureau and the Justice Department for $2.5 million, saying he was falsely accused of violating the law for accepting a position as the senior counterintelligence officer for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence Oak Ridge field office, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports.
Richard Lambert, a 24-year veteran of the FBI and former special agent in charge of the Knoxville office, claims that his office was raided and false rumors were spread about him.
“Due to the notoriety and stigma surrounding defendants’ erroneous legal opinion and its plain implication that he is a federal felon, Mr. Lambert is currently unemployed and unemployable,” Lambert wrote in the lawsuit.
ORNL spokesman David Keim declined to comment Monday.
At issue is whether Lambert violated a law that “makes it a crime for a former government worker to ‘communicate’ with his or her former co-workers for one year after leaving his or her post ‘with the intent to influence official action,’” the Sentinel wrote.
Lambert was also a key FBI investigator for a while in the anthrax mailings after 9/11. He was one of the investigators who strongly believed that scientist Steven Hatfill was behind the mailings. Hatfill successfully sued the government for trying to pin the mailings on him, and leaking information about the case to the press.
Eventually, the FBI decided Hatfill was not the guy, and investigators turned their attention on scientist Bruce Edwards Ivins, who committed suicide before he could be charged.