By Allan Lengel
Every day, thousands of federal law enforcement agents wake up, grab their gun and badge and a cup of java, orange juice or tea and go out into the world to protect the public and enforce the laws.
Unfortunately, every year, a few step over the line — way over the line — and break the law.
As 2011 draws to an end, ticklethewire.com takes its annual look at some of the more interesting cases of Feds Misbehavin.
Unmitigated Disaster: FBI agent Adrian Johnson, a six-year veteran of bureau, had a little too much booze last Feb. 7. While driving in Prince George’s County, just outside D.C., he drove his 2002 Mitsubishi Montero into oncoming traffic and crashed into 18-year-old Lawrence Garner Jr.’s Hyundai Sonata. Garner died and a passenger in the car was critically injured but survived.
Johnson lost his job and in August a county grand jury indicted him on charges including motor vehicle manslaughter, homicide by motor vehicle, driving under the influence and reckless driving. Johnson had just moved to the D.C. area to protect the U.S. attorney general. The end of a life, the end of a career.
Lying for a Lover: Love or lust can do some people in. Just ask FBI agent Adrian Busby.
On Nov. 1, a fed jury in Manhattan federal court convicted the 37-year-old of lying to protect a married female confidential source he was having an affair with. It all began in 2008 when Busby, who was investigating mortgage fraud, started using a female real estate loan officer as a confidential source. He also began having an affair with her.
On Feb. 5, 2008, the source was arrested and subsequently prosecuted by the Queens County District Attorney’s Office for identity theft and related charges. Authorities charged that Busby “actively assisted with her criminal defense, met with her attorneys on multiple occasions, and during trial “provided her defense attorney with confidential, law enforcement reports…related to her case….in violation of FBI regulations.” Fed authorities said he then lied to them about the things he did to help the woman.
Say What? This one is just so wildly crazy for so many reasons. Anthony V. Mangione, 50, who headed up South Florida’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was indicted in September on child porn charges. Ironic? Let us count the ways. First off, ICE has been very active in busting purveyors of child porn. Secondly, how could a guy in the know like Mangione get caught knowing what he knows about how law enforcement operates?
Not the Crime of the Century: DEA Agent Brian Snedeker was charged in Virginia in October with hunting ducks in a “baited area” and exceeding the daily limit of ducks, according to Field & Stream magazine, which wrote: “OK, someone’s gotta ask the question: what illegal substance was this DEA agent under the influence when he decided to shoot many ducks, and in a baited area to boot?” Apparently, among the Field & Stream crowd, Snedeker is one bad dude.
Just Plain Crooked: ATF agent Brandon McFadden admitted he stole drugs and money from crime scenes with several Tulsa police officers. He was arrested in April 2010 and was sentenced this December to 21 months in prison. He would have gotten a lot more had he not cooperated with authorities. Nice way to end a career.
Career Up in Smoke: Clifford Dean Posey, an ATF agent form Virginia gets an A for enterprise and big D for plain Dumb. The 43-year-old was sentenced in September in Richmond, Va., to three years and one month in prison for stealing guns and cigarettes from ATF and selling them.
The Cost of a Big Fat Lie: It’s one thing to have an affair with a fellow law enforcement agent. It’s another to lie about it. Keith Phillips, a former special agent with the Environmental Protection Agency criminal division in the Dallas division, learned that the hard way. In October, he pleaded guilty to lying in a civil case about having an affair with an FBI agent he was working with.
Phillips, 61, of Kent, Tex., and a female FBI agent investigated a criminal case from September 1996 to Dec. 14, 1999 that resulted in the indictment of Hubert Vidrine Jr. and several others. The criminal charges against Vidrine were ultimately dismissed, and Vidrine turned around and filed a lawsuit against the federal government for malicious prosecution, authorities said.
That’s when trouble stepped into the picture. Authorities said that during a deposition taken in Vidrine’s civil suit, agent Phillips allegedly falsely testified that he did not have an affair with the FBI special agent, when, in fact, he did.
Very Fishy: There are certain times when things just look too fishy. This is one of those times. FBI Agent Jerry Nau of Peoria, Ill., lied to investigators about $43,643 in cash that went missing from a drug bust. He also forged signatures of fellow agents on evidence sheets to hide the fact the money was AWOL.
In November, he was taken into custody and sentenced to five months in prison. Nau told investigators he panicked when he was unable to find the money before the trial and hoped it would “turn up” on its own, the Chicago Tribune reported. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Warden said at the time, according to the Chicago Tribune: “Would you walk away and say, ‘I hope it comes back some day?’No, you would start screaming at your colleagues and say … ‘Let’s go find (the money).
“What happened is he stole the money,” Warden said.
Vigilante Justice: Border Patrol Agents Dario Castillo, 23, and Ramon Zuniga, 29, must have figured it wasn’t worth bothering the justice system. So the two took matters into their own hands by allegedly forcing four Mexican nationals, who were illegals and were suspected of marijuana smuggling, to eat marijuana and strip off their clothing and shoes. They then set the belongings on fire and forced them to flee into 40-degree desert in southern Arizona.
The incident happened in 2008, but the two were indicted in August in Tucson by a federal grand jury.