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Archive for January 2nd, 2020

Joe Piersante of the DEA Named ticklethewire.com Fed of The Year for 2019

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Joe Piersante in 2010.

DEA agent Joe Piersante has been named ticklethewire.com’ Fed of The Year for 2019.

Piersante, who retired this month in Detroit, took a different path in his career, and showed remarkable resolve. He joined the Detroit Police force and then the DEA in 1997. He spent the next decade in Arizona battling drug traffickers.

In 2011, he was as part of an elite  Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST), a commando-style squad that battled terrorist organizations that trafficked drugs to support their efforts.  While raiding a bazaar in Afghanistan, gunfire broke out and he ended up getting hit in the head by an armored-piercing round. He was wounded and left legally blind.

He eventually returned to the DEA, where he began talking to groups on behalf of the agency about the dangers of drugs and helping addicts with treatment strategies. He also talked to people about putting their lives on the line for their country.

He finished his career in the Detroit office, sometimes taking an Uber or getting rides from co-workers to carry out his duties.

In 2015, Piersante became the first DEA agent to receive the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, the civilian equivalent of the Purple Heart award for injuries sustained in combat.

“Joe embodies what our agency is about, the core mission, to go wherever we have to go to attack organized crime and go after trafficking organizations,” said Jack Riley, the agency’s deputy administrator in an interview with Bloomberg in 2016 . “It really means something that he stuck around, that he continues to work. He embodies the fighting spirit. He never quits.”

Previous recipients of the ticklethewire.com Fed of the Year award include: Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (2008):  Warren Bamford, who headed the Boston FBI (2009), Joseph Evans, regional director for the DEA’s North and Central Americas Region in Mexico City (2010);  Thomas Brandon, deputy Director of ATF (2011); John G. Perren, who was assistant director of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Directorate (2012); David Bowdich, special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Los Angeles (2013);  Loretta Lynch, who was U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn at the time (2014); John “Jack” Riley,  the DEA’s acting deputy administrator (2015); D.C.  U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips (2016); Joe Rannazzisi, a retired DEA deputy assistant administrator (2017); Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (2018).

DEA Agent Among Victims of Airplane Crash in Kansas on New Year’s Eve

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A DEA special agent was among two people killed when a single-engine airplane crashed almost immediately after takeoff at Johnson County Executive Airport in Kansas on New Year’s Eve.

The Kansas Highway Patrol identified the victims as DEA Special Agent Jonathan J. Vannatta, 48 of Maumelle, Ark., and Darcy L. Matthews, 43, of Belton, Texas. Vannatta was the pilot, investigators said.

A DEA spokesperson confirmed that Vannatta worked with the DEA but was not on assignment, according to 41 Action News.

Investigators said they are still trying to determine what caused the accident. A preliminary report is expected within two to three weeks.

Early accounts suggest the plane veered into trees and crashed east of the runway before catching fire.

Retired FBI agent Leads New West Virginia Agency Handling Prison, Jail, Juvenile Services

Jennifer Wilson.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A retired FBI agent will lead a new agency within West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

Military Affairs Secretary Jeff Sandy appointed Jennifer Wilson in late December to serve as director of the agency’s Division of Administrative Services, which consolidated the state’s prison, jail and juvenile services systems.

The state agency was established in 2018 to provide services that range from human resources and recruiting to contracts and payroll.

Wilson joined the FBI in 1997 and worked for the bureau in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York and Pittsburgh. She retired last year before working for the legal team of the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

“I am honored to be named the director of DAS,” Wilson said in a news release. “Over the last 60 days, as the acting director, I have been impressed with the leadership team here and the employees’ dedication and commitment to the success of the newest division of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. I plan to focus the next year on completing the staffing and developing more efficient systems to serve the DMAPS agencies.”