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FBI Remembers Fallen Agent Barry Lee Bush, Who Died on This Date in 2007

FBI Special Agent Barry Lee Bush

By Steve Neavling

On this date in 2007, an FBI agent was fatally shot while trying to arrest three heavily armed bank robbery suspects in central New Jersey. 

Barry Lee Bush, 52, of the FBI’s Newark Field Office, was killed when another agent’s gun accidentally discharged outside a PNC Bank branch in Readington.  

The agent who mistakenly shot Bush was absolved after an investigation by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility determined the agent was within the bureau’s guidelines for firing his weapon. 

In honor of Bush in April 2008, the bureau’s Newark office was renamed after him.

Bush joined the FBI in 1987 and transferred from the Kansas City Field Office to Newark in 1991. 

At a memorial service on April 12, 2017, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller described Bush as a “dogged investigator” who “loved being part of the action.”

“Barry loved his job,” Mueller said at the time. “But he had two loves in his life. One was the Bureau. The other love—his first love— was his family. He talked about them constantly. They were his pride and joy. No matter how much he loved his work, he loved coming home at the end of the day even more.”

Read Mueller’s full remarks at the memorial service.

Mississippi Man Pleads Guilty to Shooting U.S. Marshals Service Task Force Member

Joseph Dale Sonnier

By Steve Neavling

A 32-year-old man who shot a member of a U.S. Marshals Service Task Force outside of a hotel in Mississippi has pleaded guilty to four counts of assaulting and resisting officers and one count of discharging a firearm.  

Joseph Dale Sonnier, of Hancock County, entered the plea in federal court Thursday and is set to be sentenced on July 8. He faces up to 20 years of prison on each count. 

Sonnier shot a member of the task force in the neck while executing a search warrant on July 21. The officer survived. 

Sonnier was wanted on two counts of kidnapping, two counts of aggravated assaulted, armed robbery and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. 

Weekend Series on Crime: Mexican Cartel and Gun Smuggling

CBP Canine Sniffs Out $60K of Fentanyl Stuffed inside Breakfast Burrito

Fentanyl found stuffed inside burritos. (CBP)

By Steve Neavling

A Customs and Border Protection dog sniffed out nearly $60,000 worth of fentanyl stuffed inside breakfast burritos near the U.S.-Mexico Border. 

The canine alerted his handler to a Chevrolet Tahoe at an inspection checkpoint in Yuma on Monday, CBP said in a news release.

The dog sniffed out the drugs in a black backpack inside the vehicle. 

Agents found several small packages containing 5 pounds of fentanyl pills inside the burritos. 

CBP arrested the 37-year-old driver, who was a U.S. citizen.  

Former FBI agent Releases Third True-Crime Book in G-Men Series

“The G-Men and The Heiress: The 1934 Alice Speed Stoll FBI Kidnapping Case” by William E. Plunkett

By Steve Neavling

Former FBI Special Agent William E. Plunkett just released his third book in his G-Men series, which brings to life the true story of a tormented, good-looking gangster who kidnapped a beautiful socialite from Louisville. 

In “The G-Men and The Heiress: The 1934 Alice Speed Stoll FBI Kidnapping Case,” Thomas Robinson Jr. masterminds the kidnapping of Alice Stoll and collects a $50,000 ransom, which he uses to fund a cross-country trip to Hollywood.

The story spans three decades and shows how Robinson dodged the death penalty and escaped from prison twice. 

Plunkett’s other books in the G-Men series are “A True FBI Crime Story of the 1930s” and “A 1929 FBI Washington Cold Case.”

Plunkett joined the FBI in 1982 and worked in Albany, Syracuse, Cincinnati, and Washington D.C. He was an original member of the Cincinnati FBI Joint Terrorism Working Group and the bureau’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which was created in the aftermath of 9/11. 

How the Disappearance of Ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson Factors into Alleged Extortion Plot Involving Rep. Gaetz

Former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared while in Iran.

By Steve Neavling

The search for former FBI Agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran 14 years ago, appears to be at the center of an alleged extortion scheme involving a former federal prosecutor and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

The information came to light earlier this week when The New York Times reported that Gaetz is under investigation for a sexual relationship he allegedly had with a 17-year-old girl.

In an appearance on Fox News on Tuesday, Gaetz claimed former prosecutor David L. McGee, who has been searching for Levinson on behalf of his family, offered to make sex trafficking charges disappear in exchange for money to help in the search for the former FBI agent.

McGee denied wrongdoing, telling the Daily Beast that the extortion allegations are “completely, totally false,” adding, “This is a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that Matt Gaetz is apparently about to be indicted for sex trafficking underage girls.”

The whereabouts and fate of Levinson have been speculated about for years. On the 14th anniversary of his disappearance last month, the Biden administration called on Iran to return Levinson to his family and provide answers about what happened to him. 

Levinson, who would be 73, disappeared while on Kish Island, a tourist spot off the coast of Iran. He worked part-time for the CIA, and U.S. officials believed he died while in Iranian custody. 

He was last seen in a 2010 hostage video. 

Arkansas Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison for Death Threats to FBI Agents

FBI’s Little Rock Field Office. (FBI)

By Steve Neavling

An Arkansas man who sent death threats to FBI agents and a former U.S. attorney was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison on Wednesday. 

Clayton Jackson, 35, who was living in Dewitt, Arkansas, at the time, mailed two letters to the FBI office in Little Rock in February 2020 and March 2020, threatening to kill multiple bureau employees. Jackson signed the letters. 

In an interview with the FBI, Jackson admitted sending the letters and repeated his intention to kill the employees. 

After he was indicted, Jackson continued to send death threats to the employees and former U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland. In the letters, he said he planed to escape from prison to kill the employees and Hiland. 

Jackson pleaded guilty on Nov. 2 to three counts of threatening to assault and murder a federal official and two counts of mailing threatening communications. 

 “This defendant’s repeated threats against law enforcement were a failed attempt to intimidate those who have sworn to protect and serve,” Acting United States Attorney Jonathan D. Ross said in a statement. “This lengthy sentence should serve as a warning: threats like these will not be tolerated and will not prevent law enforcement from doing their important work of protecting our communities.”

Jason Van Goor, acting special agent in charge of the Little Rock office, added, “We take any threat against law enforcement seriously, and we believe Mr. Jackson’s 40-year sentence will serve as a warning to anyone thinking about threatening federal agents and officers. As always, we are grateful to our partners at the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas for their tremendous work on this case.”

Secret Service Study Finds School Shootings Are Preventable

By Steve Neavling

A Secret Service study concluded that school shootings are preventable if officials pay attention to warning signs. 

The agency’s National Threats Assessment Center analyzed 67 thwarted school attacks in the past 12 years and found that in a vast majority of the cases the plotters gave off warning signs. 

The report concludes that early intervention is the key to saving the lives of students. 

In 75% of the cases, school attacks were “detected” because the would-be shooters spoke publicly about their plans. Others had “histories of school discipline and contact with law enforcement” or exhibited suicidal thoughts, harassing behavior or an interest in past violent attacks. 

In many of the cases, the plots were planned for months. 

“The key findings of the study are clear and consistent: Individuals contemplating violence often exhibit observable behaviors, and when community members report these behaviors, the next tragedy can be averted,” Secret Service Director James M. Murray wrote. “The Secret Service encourages its educational, medical and public safety partners to review the information within, and use it to guide best practices for maintaining a safe and healthy learning environment for all children.”