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Tag: ATF

Major Shakeup at ATF; Thomas Brandon Named New Deputy Director

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A big shakeup has begun at ATF.

Thomas Brandon, who had recently been sent from Detroit to head up the Phoenix Division and clean up the fall out from Operation Fast and Furious, will become the agency’s deputy director — the number two person.

The acting number two person, William J. Hoover, will move from headquarters to head up ATF’s Washington Field Office. And  Mark Chait, Assistant Director of Field Operations, will head up the Baltimore Division.

At headquarters, Mark Potter, former head of the Philly office, who recently was named Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations for the Western Region of the U.S. and International Operations, will become the ATF Assistant Director for the Office of Management. Larry Ford Will become Assistant Director of Office of Field Operations. Julie Torres will become Assistant Director of Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations.

Other changes are as follows: Gregory Gant will become the Assistant Director of Public and Governmental Affairs; James McDermond will return to the Office of Science and Technology as the Assistant Director; Theresa Stoop, head of the Baltimore Division, will become the Assistant Director of the Office of Human Resources and Professional Development; Vivian Michalic will become the Deputy Assistant Director of Office of Management and will remain the Chief Financial Officer for ATF; and Melanie Stinnett will become Deputy Chief Counsel of ATF.

The shakeups come in the midst of a Congressional inquiry into Operation Fast and Furious, a failed operation that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. Some of those guns have surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of the border.

They also come as  the new acting director B. Todd Jones moves to try and resurrect an agency that has been suffering from a severe case of low morale.

Reaction inside and outside ATF about the appointment of Brandon was met with praise.

“He’s a straight shooter, extremely competent, and he wants to do what’s right,” said one veteran ATF agent.

Andrew Arena, who heads up the FBI in Detroit, where Brandon was special agent in charge until recently, said:

“He’s one of the top officials I‘ve ever worked with in nearly 24 years of law enforcement. He gets what the mission is and he’s not into turf battles. He’s about getting it done.”

And Barbara McQuade, the U.S. Attorney in Detroit said “You’ll never meet a more dedicated law enforcement professional than Tom Brandon. He’s incredibly hard working, no ego and just cares about getting the job done. He’s everything you would want in a public servant.”

The change also come as the White House’s nomination for permanent director, Andrew Traver, remains in limbo. The NRA and other gun-rights groups have opposed his nomination, which has stalled in the Senate.  Observers say the nomination is likely to simply die. Traver heads up ATF’s Chicago office.

Brandon might have a better chance of getting confirmed as director. That being said,  the Obama administration isn’t like to spend political capital trying to get a director confirmed before the November 2012 election.   Jones, who is also a U.S. Attorney in Minnesota, is expected to stay on as acting director at least through the end of President Obama’s first term.

 

Montana Atty.Gen. Disputes ATF Policy on Guns and Medical Marijuana

By Danny Fenster 
ticklethewire.com

Flair-ups continue between local and federal law enforcement over a recent ATF letter to arms dealers regarding guns and medical marijuana users.

The Belgrade News reports that Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock wrote the Justice Department this week to voice his opposition to a recent ATF letter sent to guns dealers telling them they cannot sell weapons to people taking medical marijuana.

Federal law prohibits selling firearms to any “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.” Because marijuana is a federally controlled substance, and because there are no federal exemptions for medicinal use, ATF stated that it is illegal to sell to users of marijuana.

As Montana begins its hunting season, people are buying guns and ammunition, Bullock wrote U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder,  and residents are “preparing to enjoy an activity that is deeply rooted in our heritage and culture.”

Bullock claims the policy defies his state’s constitutional right to hunt, and that it “implicates serious legal issues under the Second Amendment, and the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fifth Amendment,” according to Belgrade News.

The paper reported that Bullock wrote that some medical marijuana cardholders may not use the drug all of the time, yet the firearm restriction would apply to them for as long as the card was valid.

“The ATF letter does not take this into account, even though the controlling federal regulation recognizes that a person who uses a controlled substance in a manner prescribed by a physician is not disqualified from possessing or buying ammunition or guns” under federal law, he said in the letter.

To read more click here.

Big Management Shakeup Coming at ATF

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

With acting ATF Director B. Todd Jones in place, and the new fiscal year beginning, rumors are swirling about that ATF is soon expected to make a lot of changes in top management, which will result in a serious round of musical chairs.

One rumor circulating within ATF is that Thomas E. Brandon, who had just recently moved from Detroit to Phoenix to help clean up the mess in wake of the disastrous Operation Fast and Furious, will be headed to Washington to take on a senior leadership role.

Agents around the country have told tickethewire.com that Brandon has the respect of fellow agents.

The changes come as the scandal surrounding Operation Fast and Furious unravels. The poorly executed operation encouraged Arizona firearms dealers to sell to questionable straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of some weapons, and some surfaced at crimes scenes on both sides of the border.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)  and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.)  have  been investigating the fall out from  Operation Fast and Furious and have been raising questions about ATF’s leadership.

In the midst of their probe,  ATF acting director Ken Melson stepped down to head over to a post at the Justice Department. In stepped Jones, who has kept his post as U.S. Attorney in Minnesota.

The White House had nominated Andrew Traver, head of the ATF’s Chicago office, to become the new director. But his confirmation process got stalled, and the NRA put up a strong fight against him.

At this point, it appears likely Traver’s nomination will simply die out of concern that he can’t get confirmed.

As for seating a permanent director at this point? It’s not likely that the Obama administration will spend its political capital trying to get any director confirmed before the election in November 2012.

Rumors have also been circulating that the Justice Department wants to fold ATF into the FBI, but a federal source said that won’t happen.

The Examiner.com reported last week that there were rumors of  ”a possible big shake up” at ATF,   but gave no specifics.

 

ATF Official Admits His Congressional Testimony on Fast and Furious “Lacked Clarity”

William Newell

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ATF official William Newell, who frustrated Congressional committee members and angered fellow agents with his ambivalent and less than forthright Congressional testimony in July on the controversial Operation Fast and Furious, now admits his testimony “lacked clarity”, Fox News reports.

Newell, who headed up ATF’s Phoenix office during Operation Fast and Furious, acknowledged in a 12-page document to the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, that his testimony could have been better and offered new insight into his mistakes about the probe that encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels, Fox reported.

“After taking time to reflect and review my testimony from the hearing on July 26, 2011, I realize I could have given clearer, more complete and more direct responses to some questions,” wrote Newell, who is now stationed at ATF headquarters in Washington.

“With 20/20 hindsight, I now see that I should have conducted more frequent assessments,” Newell said in his filing. “With more regular assessments I could have articulated to my staff the need to be proactive in ascertaining the quantity of guns being purchased that we were not able to intercept.”

Newell’s less than forthright testimony angered fellow agents around the country.

A source told ticklethewire.com back in August that the Congressional committee was looking into the possibility of going after Newell for perjury after his July testimony.

To read more click here.

 

ATF to Offer 400 Early Employee Buyouts

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

In an attempt to avoid layoffs and furloughs, ATF will offer approximately 400 buyouts, reports the trade magazine Government Executive. The buyouts will be both at headquarters and field offices.

Audrey Stucko, acting director for human resources and professional development, said the move is an attempt to deal with a tight budget climate, according to Government Executive. ATF expects to get 250 to 275 employees to take the buyouts, saving the bureau between $15 million and $20 million. “Maybe we will get more; that would be a good thing,” she said.

From Government Executive:

Eligible employees have until Oct. 14 to apply for the buyouts. Those who accept the package must leave the bureau by Nov. 30. Stucko said the offers apply across ATF’s directorates but not to positions considered critical agency functions.

To read more click here.

ATF Probing Car Bomb in Mi. That Wounded Lawyer and His 2 Children

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
ATF has jumped in to investigate the mysterious car comb that seriously injured an attorney and his two children in Monroe, Mi., Tuesday night, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The Free Press reported that the Volvo station wagon was traveling on East Elm Avenue, near the ramp to I-75, at 5:41 p.m. when it exploded.

The Free Press reported that investigators at the scene found evidence of a car bomb.

Sources told the Monroe Evening News the driver of the vehicle was attorney Erik G. Chappell.

Edwin Holly, 68, of Tecumseh was in a nearby boathouse at Riverfront Marina along Elm when he saw the explosion out the window.

Atty. Erik G. Chappell/law firm photo

“I was looking to see if there were deer and saw the car come around and go boom,” said a witness Edwin Holly,68, according to the Free Press. “I took off running to the scene to see if I could get anyone out but there was nothing I could do.”

The father and children were taken to a nearby hospital.

Chappell’s law firm webpage describes him

by saying:

“Although the majority of Mr. Chappell’s cases are business disputes, Mr. Chappell also maintains a Family Law practice and will evaluate all potential cases, including personal injury or criminal cases on a case by case basis.”

 

FBI’s JTTF in D.C. Will Be Among Those Honored at ADL Awards Ceremony


fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Members and partners of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in the Washington Field Office, who were involved in a sting that targeted a plot to blow up the Washington area subway system in 2010, will be among those honored Oct. 4 in Washington at the Anti Defamation League’s  second annual SHEILD Awards.

The ADL,  a Jewish organization which bills itself as “one of the nation’s oldest and most respected civil rights and human relations organizations”, created the SHIELD Awards in 2010 to honor law enforcement for protecting the American people from hate crimes and domestic and international terrorism.  ADL works closely with agencies like the FBI and ATF to expose hate groups and their activities.

The ADL anticipates  about 300 law enforcement professionals and community leaders will attend the event.

“Through these Awards, we hope to increase public awareness of the dedication and values of the men and women of law enforcement”  Elise Jarvis, ADL’s Associate Director for Law Enforcement Outreach said in a statement. “They transform the principles of our democracy into a reality. They can never be thanked enough for their service.”

Besides members the FBI’s JTTF, others honored will include:

Members of the Baltimore Police Department and the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City for the investigation and prosecution of three individuals who assaulted 76-year-old African American man in a hate crime in 2009.

Special Agent Michael Tarantino of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit, who in 2009 identified, located, and arrested a high ranking Argentinean Police official who was wanted for committing war crimes during the Argentinean Dirty War.

Members of the Virginia Beach Police and Fire Departments for preventing a domestic terrorist attack at a local high school, which was scheduled to occur on April 20th, 2009, the 10th anniversary of the Columbine Massacre.

ADL said the awards were determined by a Selection Committee of 18 law enforcement executives, including chiefs of police and other law enforcement officials from D.C., Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

 

ATF Agent Gets 3 Years and 1 Month for Theft of Guns and Cigarettes

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

You’d think Clifford Dean Posey, an ATF agent, would have known of the old adage: Crime doesn’t pay. Apparently not.

Posey, 43, of Chesapeake, Va., was sentenced Friday in Richmond, Va., to three years and one month in prison for stealing guns and cigarettes from ATF and selling them. The crimes began in 2007, authorities said.

He pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud, embezzlement, possessing or receiving stolen firearms, making a false statement and money laundering.

“When he became an ATF agent, Clifford Posey took an oath to uphold the law,” U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said in a statement. “Mr. Posey selfishly violated his oath and used his law enforcement power for personal gain. The law became an instrument of his greed, rather than a shield for those he was sworn to protect.”