By Allan Lengel
Every day, thousands of federal law enforcement agents wake up, grab their gun and badge and a cup of java, orange juice or tea and go out into the world to protect the public and enforce the laws.
Unfortunately, every year, a few step over the line — way over the line — and break the law.
As the year draws to an end, ticklethewire.com takes a look at some of the more interesting cases of Feds Misbehavin’ for 2013. As in the past, money and sex was involved in some allegations. And this year, unfortunately, so was death.
Too Much Booze: FBI agent Adrian Johnson got 18 months in prison this year after he was convicted of multiple charges including vehicular manslaughter after he drove drunk and crashed into a car in suburban D.C., in Prince George’s County. He killed an 18-year old and man and seriously injured the man’s friend in 2011.
Not So Secret Service: Secret Service agents are getting quite the rep for being serious party people. Supervisors Ignacio Zamora Jr. and Timothy Barraclough, aren’t doing much to change that image. The Washington Post reported in November that the two, who were managing security for the president, have been removed from that detail because of alleged misconduct involving women.
In one instance in May, Zamora allegedly tried getting back into a woman’s room at the Hay-Adams hotel, near the White House, to get a bullet he had left behind. He was off duty and had removed the bullets from the gun while in the room, the Post reported. He had met the woman at the hotel bar and joined her in her room, the Post reported. The Post reported that the guest refused to let Zamora back in, and he identified himself to hotel security as a Secret Service agent. The hotel alerted the White House about the odd behavior, the Post reported.
During an internal investigation, investigators also found that the two agents had allegedly sent sexually suggestive emails to a female subordinate, who is an agent.
Hands in the Cookie Jar: Oklahoma FBI agent Timothy A. Klotz confessed to dipping into the FBI cookie jar. Authorities allege that he embezzled $43,190 that was earmarked for confidential informants for tips on criminal activities from 2008-2011. He acknowledged in a signed statement that he falsified 66 receipts during a scheme that went undiscovered for more than four years. He was sentenced earlier this month to six months in prison and three years of supervised released. He was also ordered to pay a restitution of $43,190.
Let The Dice Roll –– FBI agent Travis Raymond Wilson, 38, of Huntington Beach, Calif., apparently had a little gambling jones and didn’t want the big guys at the FBI to know. Unfortunately for him, he got busted. Wilson pleaded guilty to structuring financial transactions in violation of the federal Bank Secrecy Act.
The feds say between January 2008 and February 2013, Wilson regularly gambled at casinos in California, Nevada, Arizona, and West Virginia, authorities said. In total, Wilson structured more than $488,000 in cash. Sentencing is set for March 3.
Hookers, Cash and Luxury Travel: Human temptation. Need you say more. John Bertrand Beliveau Jr., 44, a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), apparently failed that test. He pleaded guilty earlier in December to participating in a massive international fraud and bribery scheme. He admitted sharing with a foreign Navy contractor confidential information about ongoing criminal probes into the contractor’s billing practices in exchange for prostitutes, cash and luxury travel, the Justice Department said in a press release. His case is part of a big scandal.
Ethics Still Applies When You Depart: Kenneth Kaiser, former head of the FBI’s Boston office, found that ethics still apply when you leave the bureau. The choked up ex-agent appeared in court where he was fined $10,000 for violating an ethics charge. Kaiser was accused of meeting with former FBI colleagues about his company that was under investigation. Federal law prohibited him from having professional contact with former FBI colleagues within a year of leaving government service.
“I lost something I valued the most — my reputation,” Kenneth W. Kaiser, 57, of Hopkinton, Mass. said, according to the Boston Globe.
Helping the Wrong Side – Border Patrol Agent Ivhan Herrera-Chiang took advantage of his position and helped smugglers bring meth, cocaine and marijuana into the U.S. He was sentenced in Phoenix in November to 15 years. He reportedly even helped smugglers find their way around underground sensors and lock combinations.
“You have done about the worst thing a law-enforcement agent could do, especially a Border Patrol agent, and that is passed confidential information,” U.S. District Judge Paul Rosenblatt said.
A Fatal Shot — FBI agent Arthur “Art” Gonzales of Stafford County, Va. is charged with shooting his estranged wife to death in April. He told dispatchers he was acting in self-defense when he shot his 42-year-old wife, Julia Sema Gonzales. He says his wife attacked him with a knife.
Gonzales was a supervisory special agent-instructor at the FBI’s National Academy at Quantico. Court records show bond was granted. Trial has been set for March.
ICE Agent ICED:Veteran ICE agent Juan Martinez, 47, has suddenly got a lot on his plate. He is accused of extortion and accepting bribes. Authorities alleged that he conspired with others to shake down a Colombian construction company. The group allegedly told the firm that it was under investigation, when it was not, and that the U.S. Treasury was about to add the company to a list known as Specially Designated Nationals (SDN). The designation by Treasury can result in the freezing of bank accounts and other action harmful to a business. Martinez’s group said it could keep the company off the list, and for that, it received more than $100,000. He is also accused of illegally bringing in people to this country, claiming falsely that they were witnesses in an ongoing narcotics investigation. His attorney says the allegations are false.
Leaky Pipes: Plumbers aren’t the only ones who concern themselves with leaks. FBI agent Donald Sachteren who leaked information to the Associated Press was recently sentenced to more than three years in prison for possessing and disclosing secret information. Sachteren, 55, was accused of disclosing intelligence about the U.S. operation in Yemen in 2012. What made him a far less sympathetic character in this whole mess was the fact he was also sentenced to more than 8 years in prison for possessing and distributing child pornography in an unrelated case.