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November 2015
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Tag: ATF

ATF Agent Accused of Gambling with Government Funds While on Duty

Via Wikipedia.

Via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling

An ATF agent is accused of using a government-issued credit card to gamble at the casino while on duty.

But the Washington Free Beacon reports that the agent was later promoted and is now a special agent in charge, according to an investigation by the inspector general.

The investigation revealed that the agent “gambled on duty, misused his government travel card to facilitate his gambling, and misused his assigned government vehicle by using it to travel to casinos.”

“By gambling while on duty, the [Special Agent in Charge] SAC violated federal regulations that prohibit federal employees from gambling while on duty,” the agency watchdog said in a summary of the investigation posted Monday. “In addition, the SAC violated ATF policy by, among other things, misusing his government travel card to obtain cash advances to gamble, and using his assigned government vehicle to travel to casinos to gamble, which is not an ‘official purpose’ for which use of the government vehicle is authorized.”

Still, the inspector general reported, the agent was never prosecuted.

ATF Agent Shoots Man in Backyard During a Weapons Raid

atf badgeBy Steve Neavling

An ATF agent shot a man Thursday while executing a search warrant of his Oak Park, Calif., home, The Sacramento Bee reports. 

The suspect was in critical condition after the agent shot him in his backyard during a raid for weapons.

The agent shot the man after he allegedly fled to the back of his house with a gun.

The suspect, whose name has not yet been released, is accused of firing the weapon first.

The shooting is under investigation.

Other Stories of Interest

National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence Urges Obama to Give ATF Resources, Appoint Permanent Director

president obama- white house photo

By Allan Lengel

The National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence is urging President Barack Obama to provide  ATF with adequate  resources to battle gun violence and appoint a permanent director for the agency.

In a letter dated Nov. 4, Jim Johnson, the Baltimore County Police chief, who is chair of the anti-gun violence organization, wrote to the President:

As you know, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has lacked a permanent Director since March 31, 2015. Given the critical role ATF plays — through investigation and enforcement — in mitigating the harm caused by armed criminals and illegal firearms, it is vital that ATF be publicly recognized as the critically important law enforcement entity it is, and supported through proper resourcing. That includes, ensuring that ATF has the necessary operating funds and that it has a permanent leader.

Just as the White House could not function effectively without a President, no local, state or federal law enforcement agency can do without leadership. ATF’s hard working agents and staff are adversely impacted and the agency is forced to operate at a deficit when the position of ATF Director is left vacant and without a nominee — regardless of the talent, professionalism or commitment of those who serve in the organization.

We implore you to nominate a permanent Director of ATF, and ask that you do so without delay. The law enforcement community has the utmost respect for and confidence in ATF’s Deputy Director Thomas Brandon, a career ATF special agent who has served with distinction and honor as the agency’s Acting Director since March 2015 and as the ATF Deputy Director since October 2011.

Brandon, who heads the agency, was serving as acting director since April. However, law requires that if he is not nominated for the permanent post after a certain number of days, his title revert back to deputy director. That change in title happened last week.


A Brief Chat With Tom Brandon, Head of ATF, on Gun Violence and the Need For More Staffing

By Allan Lengel

CHICAGO — Tom Brandon, head of ATF, wonders at time when gun violence is such a pressing issue in America,  why the agency isn’t getting more funding for additional agents.

He says with an additional 200 agents “we could really make a huge difference.”

Brandon became an ATF agent in 1989. In 2011, he was named deputy director and on April 1, he became the acting director. Because the White House has decided not to name him the permanent director, his title, by law, changed this week to deputy director, even though he’ll still be the top agent and carry out the duties of the director.  Why?

It’s called Washington politics. Politico reports that the White House doesn’t want to expend political capital trying to get an ATF director confirmed on the Hill — something that has always been a battle. That being said, a law states that Brandon can’t hold the title of interim director for more than 210 days.

Brandon, who attended the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago this past week, sat down with Allan Lengel of for a brief chat about gun violence and the agency’s mission.

Millions of Firearms Purchase Records Languish in ATF Facility, Hampering Investigations

gunsBy Steve Neavling

Firearm purchase records are an important resource for law enforcement because the documents can help trace guns used in crimes.

Trouble is, millions of those records are languishing in cardboard boxes at the government’s National Tracing Center because they have not been processed, the USA Today reports. 

The records – as many as 1.6 million documents a month – come from defunct firearm dealers who must hand over their records to an ATF facility.

The USA Today reports:

The avalanche of records is a little-noticed yet critical component of a newly escalating firearms debate that underscores both the strained operations of the federal government’s chief gun enforcement agency and the strength of a powerful gun rights lobby intent on preventing the creation of a national gun registry, law enforcement analysts say.

The dysfunctional document management system exists even as ATF examiners are faced with a steadily increasing demand for tracing guns used in crimes — 364,441 requests last year — and as the agency seeks to assist local law enforcement authorities in a number of U.S. cities, including Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Baltimore, where there have been dramatic spikes in gun-related violence.

“It’s really sad,” said Ben Hayes, a former ATF official who for more than a decade oversaw parts of the tracing center’s operations. “It’s pathetic.”

ATF Acting Director Tom Brandon to the Troops: ‘My Title is Changing, My Duties Are Not’

Thomas Brandon

Thomas Brandon

By Allan Lengel

Tom Brandon, will no longer be the acting director of ATF as of Wednesday.  He’ll be deputy director.

But Brandon wants the troops to know: “My title is changing, my duties are not.”

By law, Brandon can’t hold that interim title of acting director for longer than 210 days. It runs out on midnight Oct. 27. That means on Wednesday,  Brandon will still run the agency, but ATF will not officially have a director. He’ll be the deputy director.

Politico explained recently that the Obama administration, which is coming an end, has no plans to name Brandon or anyone else as a permanent director for the agency. It doesn’t want to expend political capital on what would be a tough battle.  Getting a confirmation on the Hill for any director for ATF is always very challenging, with the NRA often leading the opposition.

Going without a director for extended periods of time can lessen the stature of an agency in the eyes of Congress, and it can also be demoralizing to workers, who may feel that the White House doesn’t consider them a high priority.

Of course, that all comes at a time President Barack Obama is pushing to crack down on guns. ATF’s area of expertise is guns and enforcing the nation’s gun laws. He’s expected to deliver a speech and touch on guns Tuesday afternoon at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago, where Brandon has been for the past several days.

On Monday, Brandon fired off an email to ATF workers, entitled: “My title is changing; my authorities aren’t.”

Here what Brandon wrote:

Since April 1 of this year, I’ve had the honor of serving as your “acting director.” During this time, no one was nominated to be the ATF Director.  Consequently, under a law called the Vacancies Act, I revert back to being your Deputy Director on Wednesday, 10/28/15. Moreover, fromWednesday forward, there can be no ATF Director or Acting ATF Director until a new president enters office (1/20/17). Therefore, until that time, the deputy director position is the top (head) position within our Bureau.
So what does that mean for you and me?  Well for now, I remain the head of ATF, and I promise to do my best to represent you well. You men and women, coupled with our vital public safety mission, are why I haven’t retired. I have had a lifetime of good time on this job. Sure there are moments when I have my professional challenges, just like all of you, and I want to punch out. But after I collect myself and take time to reflect, I realize that I am one of the luckiest guys in the world. I have a job I love. I work with people I love. And I have been able to “produce and provide” for my family . . . who I love beyond words. So, regardless of official title, Brigadier General Ron Turk (who will remain my partner and the # 2 person in charge of ATF) and I, along with the executive team, will continue to make sure we lead our Bureau down the right path with sufficient resources.
You fine men and women should continue to do what you do: focus on your specific mission, step on the gas, and go home safe to your loved ones at the end of the day. And after you do that, take time to count your blessings. And I hope working at ATF is one of them.

ATF Investigates Rash of Arsons at Black Churches Near Ferguson

ATF LogoBy Steve Neavling

ATF investigators are searching for a suspect they believe is responsible for setting six black churches on fire near Ferguson, the New York Daily News reports. 

The arsons began on Oct. 8, with the most recent occurring this weekend.

ATF stopped short of saying the motive was racial or religious.

“We believe this fire-setting activity is meant to send a message,” ATF spokesperson John Ham wrote in a statement announcing a $2,000 reward Tuesday. “We believe this activity may be the result of stress experienced in the subject’s life.”

No one was inside the churches when they were set afire.

“This is a spiritually sick person,” Rev. David Triggs, a pastor with the New Life Missionary, said.

Other Stories of Interest

Politico: White House Thinks Head of ATF Is Doing Such a Good Job They Plan to Demote Him

Tom Brandon/atf photo

Tom Brandon/atf photo

By Sarah Wheaton
WASHINGTON — The White House thinks the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is doing such a great job, they’re planning to demote him.

The unusual move allows the administration, which has said fighting gun violence is a top priority, to avoid a nasty confirmation hearing for a troubled agency.

The Obama administration has no plans to name a permanent director for the agency, and career agent Thomas Brandon has been serving as the acting chief since April. But by law, he can’t hold that interim title for longer than 120 days, and that clock runs out on Oct. 27.

Brandon confirmed to POLITICO on Wednesday that he has agreed to stay on while re-assuming his previous title of deputy director – but still serving as the agency’s highest-ranking official.

“We’re not going to nominate you, but we have full confidence in you if you stay at the ATF,” said Brandon, recounting the explanation he received from the White House.

To read more click here.