Veteran ATF agent Vince Cefalu, a whistleblower who became a particularly controversial figure after voicing concern about the failed Operation Fast and Furious, was “unceremoniously” handed his dismissal papers on Tuesday, according his spokesman.
An ATF official met him at the Denny’s parking lot in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada, near his home, where Cefalu turned in his credentials, said his spokesman Patrick Crosby, a former spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta, who now has his own public relations firm.
Crosby said Cefalu was fired for “lack of candor.” He did not elaborate.
Cefalu has hired an Atlanta law firm to fight the dismissal.
Cefalu worked for more than two decades for ATF, often in an undercover capacity in major cases involving motorcycle gangs in California and the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia.
Wade Drew, a spokesman for ATF, said he could confirm that Cefalu worked for ATF for nearly 25 years and that he was no longer with the agency. But he said ATF does not comment on personnel or disciplinary matters.
In recent years, Cefalu has been one of the more publicly vocal critics of ATF management. He claims to have gone through all the proper channels to voice his concerns about ATF management, but all to no avail.
“I have just been trying to do my job: make good cases, put away the bad guys, keep the our citizens and our agents safe,” he said in a statement after his termination. “ATF management has been bending the rules and breaking the rules. The agents want ATF to be the proud agency it once was, not a place where some managers jeopardize our citizens and our cases. The behavior of ATF management has been speaking for itself with all the transfers, reassignments, resignations. It has been a mess and an embarrassment. That’s not the ATF I have devoted my career and life to, and I do not regret trying to change it.”
Zahra S. Karinshak, an Atlanta-based attorney from Krevolin & Horst, who represents Cefalu, said in a statement:
“Vince has tremendous courage. Anyone who infiltrates the KKK and biker gangs to bring them to justice has an incredible sense of dedication. Vince has a team who will fight for him in court as aggressively as he fought violent crime on our streets.”
ATF had tried firing Cefalu last year. However, he appealed the termination. It became final on Tuesday.