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March 2010


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Column: What Happens to NY’s Top FBI Agent Joseph Demarest?

Joseph Demarest Jr/fbi photo

Joseph Demarest Jr/fbi photo

Len Levitt wrote the police column “One Police Plaza” for Newsday for 10 years and has worked for several other publications including Time magazine.  His website is
By Len Levitt

Does the Federal Bureau of Investigation frown on romance?

Or does love cause some New York agents to lose their way?

Joe Demarest, the Bureau’s Big Apple top gun, is the latest G-man to have his life complicated by matters of the heart.

In January, 2009, FBI Director Robert Mueller thought so highly of the high-strung Demarest, a lean, crew-cut Delta Force lookalike, that the Bureau lured him out of retirement to head its prestigious New York office.

He gave up his lucrative position as Goldman Sachs’ Director of Security for his FBI dream job.

Today, barely a year later, Demarest is on what the Bureau describes as “temporary assignment” in Washington.

FBI spokesman Rich Kolko said last week that Demarest was in D.C., helping to develop something called Strategy Performance Sessions, or “COMPSTAT LITE,” which sounds like an abbreviated FBI version of the NYPD’s well-known computerized crime strategies.

But sources say it was love that bounced Demarest from his New York job.

Sources say the Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating whether Demarest used his influence as a senior manager to get his FBI agent girlfriend promoted.

The agent, Teresa Carlson, is described as a looker — slim, blonde and blue-eyed. She headed the white collar section of the New York office’s Criminal Division with eight or nine squads reporting to her. After a lateral transfer to the Intelligence Division, the FBI promoted her to a job in Washington.

It’s unclear how much influence Demarest had over her career. A source said there was always at least a level of management between them.

Nor is it known when their relationship began. Demarest was described as married in a 2006 press release issued when he was promoted to head the New York office’s Counter-Terrorism Division, one of the Bureau’s most sensitive jobs.

When Mueller persuaded Demarest to come out of retirement to head the New York office in Jan., 2009, he was described as divorced.

Whatever his marital status, let’s hope his entanglement doesn’t end as badly as the romance between actress Linda Fiorentino and former New York FBI agent Mark Rossini.

Fiorentino so bewitched her boyfriend Rossini that she persuaded him to download an FBI document, known as a “302 report,” which ended up in the hands of California private eye Anthony Pellicano, whom the Feds were investigating for racketeering and wiretapping.

Rossini was accused of accessing the FBI’s Automated Case Support System more than 40 times for personal use in Washington and New York between Jan and July, 2007.*

Rossini pleaded guilty to five counts of criminal computer access, was fined $10, 000 and forced to resign from the Bureau.

If Demarest is finished in New York, it leaves Mueller with a problem vis-à-vis Raymond W. Kelly.

One reason Mueller wanted Demarest to head the New York office is that he is one of the few people in the FBI [or anywhere else in law enforcement] to get along with the NYPD’s headline-grabbing commissioner.

Since Kelly’s return in 2002, he has run rings around the FBI, at least on the media front.

With the assistance of his 24/7 public relations machine — i.e. Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne — Kelly has become expert at glomming media attention with exaggerated claims about his revamped Intelligence Division and of his stationing Intel detectives overseas — which rival the Bureau-led Joint Terrorism Task Force as well as the Bureau’s own overseas agents.

Demarest succeeded Mark Mershon, who told this reporter in January, 2006, that his first priority, on Mueller’s orders, was to get along with Kelly.

With Demarest in charge, the New York office appeared to work seamlessly with the NYPD last year in arresting of a band of thugs who, with the help of a Bureau informant, planned to blow up a Riverdale synagogue. Kelly and Demarest appeared together on TV and seemed as united as Kelly appeared to have been with Jim Fox, the FBI’s New York office head, after the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993.

Last fall, when the NYPD nearly derailed the FBI’s investigation of admitted terrorist Najibullah Zazi, who with three Queens high school chums planned to detonate explosives in the subway, Demarest [and Mueller] downplayed, if not ignored, the NYPD’s blunder: contacting an informant who tipped off Zazi to the investigation.

So who dropped a dime regarding Demarest’s love life? Was it one of the Bureau’s senior managers in Washington who felt slighted that Mueller had placed a retiree in a plum Bureau job — an unprecedented personnel move?

Or was it an agent in New York who resented Demarest for what sources say is his overbearing, dictatorial micromanaging?

Sources add that Demarest expects to return to New York by the end of the month.

However he recently turned 50, which qualifies him for a Bureau pension. All that remains is a few months to qualify for the requisite time that he lost when he retired to go to Goldman Sachs.

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Time March 25, 2010 at 6:17 am

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