Senior Special Agent Vincent Cefalu sent this through the Issa' website portal. The opening comment is dated today. The original of the attachment was sent two years ago. Had their complaint been heeded then, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO PROJECT GUNWALKER SCANDAL. This is a key fact which should not be lost in the more sexy discussion about Gunwalker. All the previous scandals and the way they were swept under the rug just added to management arrogance and an informed opinion that they were invulnerable to oversight or rebuke. From this came Gunwalker. And note well: administrations of BOTH political parties are responsible for that.
From: Cefalu, Vincent A.
Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2011 16:44:45 -0400
Project Gunrunner or the "walking" guns portion could/should have been prevented. Based on a series of abuses, abject failures in the system to provide oversight and protect whistleblowers, Senior ATF management has been empowered to believe they are above the law and whistleblowers are fair game and ATF attorneys will crush anyone who comes forward. Myself and Special Agent Jay Dobyns have been the most public in attempting to gain oversight and accountability. Between us we have over 50 years of combined experience coast to coast with the agency. We reported, predicted and identified specific violations of law, policy and ethical mandates by senior managers within ATF. I am going to attempt to attach a letter sent and signed by 25 Senior and retired ATF Agents and Supervisors we sent to the Judiciary, Senator Feinstein and Barbara Boxer almost 2 yrs ago. Nothing happened. In Closing, Agent Dobyns and myself have spoken to MANY who would potentially come forward but for the knowledge of the devastation to us and our families personally and professionally. Many of these brave Agents will not be identified to you by ATF in response to your demands. Many will not come forward unless Jay and I and our attorneys can convince they will not suffer the career destruction we have. We stand ready to help save this great Agency but we need your help. With the current institutional air of reprisal that exists and the broken system that cannot gaurantee their protection, This Agency is poised to continue this insane pattern of dangerous and deadly programs, and ineffective enforcement, which puts us ONE decision away from yet another Dead Federal Agent. Feel free to contact me and or Special Agent Jay Dobyns for further assistance.
Judiciary Committee Members
President Obama, a civil rights attorney and constitutional law professor, has stated his commitment to justice, equality, transparency and enforcement of civil rights laws for every human being. He has committed to overhauling the Justice Department. However, we as members of the elite Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are gravely concerned about the Departments failure to hold senior managers within our great Bureau accountable. We are further concerned that such apathy in the administration of our great Bureau is and continues to negatively impact our ability to ensure public safety and has created an environment which has condoned massive waste, fraud and abuse.
The following are examples of practices which have now divided this Bureau and are the motivation for this direct action:
Multiple findings of discrimination against senior ATF managers which have gone completely undisciplined or disciplined in a manner not consistent with the standards applied to the line agents and employees.
False documents and testimony submitted by or ignored/supported by ATF Chief Counsel’s office to include falsification of evidence and perjury. Failing to comply with Open Records Act and lawful court ordered demands for documents and testimony. The refusal by ATF Chief Counsel’s office to provide truthful and factual counsel to the Executive staff continues to create costly litigation for the employees and wasteful litigation and costly settlements for the Bureau. The consistent failure of ATF counsel to report significant violations of policy and law by ATF managers to appropriate authorities i.e. OPSRO and the OIG, allows the patterns and practices to continue.
The use of internal affairs to conceal ATF manager’s ethical and/or criminal violations regularly includes lackluster investigations and/or only cursory investigations when Senior management officials are implicated. The failure to pursue allegations against ATF managers when they are supported by documentary evidence is common practice. Refusal to open investigations against ATF managers is the standard response. It is common-place to withhold or delay OIG findings or interviews related to senior managers when discipline or more severe consequences would be warranted. Chief Counsel’s Office, Internal Affairs, ELRB and senior management facilitates the timely retirement from the Bureau of managers who are known to have committed significant violations of policy or law. This effectively shields them from perjury or sworn testimony harmful to the Agency. Internal Affairs conducts hyper-aggressive investigations related to whistleblowers and or EEOC complainants. OPSRO fails to conduct transparent investigations for the purpose of covering up gross mismanagement and abuse of authority by senior managers. The obstruction of justice and perjury by senior ATF managers has been ignored.
ATF EEOC Directorate blatantly and willfully disregards statutory timelines (often in excess of 300 days) creating artificial delays within the process and forcing unnecessary litigation and litigation expenses to complainants causing a Bureau wide chilling effect on potential complainants. With the support and guidance from Chief Counsel’s office, the EO office and the Agency withhold evidence or deny its existence until such evidence has been proven to exist by the complainants.
Management witnesses are thoroughly interviewed while witnesses identified by the Complainant are ignored or retaliated against later. Reports of Investigation are improperly documented. The no fear act is ignored and manipulated within the Bureaus hierarchy.
Multiple violations related to the validated threats against Special Agents have resulted in extremely expensive and unnecessary litigations at taxpayer’s expense. In these instances, the Bureau’s history of retroactively attempting to destroy the agent’s reputation and discredit the agent’s honorable service were employed through Chief counsel, Personnel Office and Internal Affairs. Personal attacks on the professional contributions as well as psychological attacks were employed. Multiple and punitive transfers to create hardship upon these agents when complaints were logged destroyed not only the agents but their families. Families have been splintered through multiple punitive transfers, health complications are created within the families and often financial devastation is the result.
Counsel’s office has consistently stated this strategy is the Bureau’s position to supervisory classes to send a message and discourage complaints. The agency failed to act, acted in bad faith and in several cases ignored policy and safety procedures knowingly. When the threatened agents challenged ATF management, they launched a campaign of personal and professional attacks and retroactive destruction of the complainant’s reputation to discredit the complaints. In most cases no negative documentation existed prior to the complaints. The devastation to the families is undeniable. An attack is carried out against an agent and the Agency does not respond with even one agent. The Special Agent in Charge ensures no ATF assets are directed at investigating or protecting the Agent’s family. A veiled attempt to name the Agent as a suspect was undertaken by management as a matter of reprisal for his prior whistle blowing activity.
Perceived, and actual whistle blowers have suffered withering attacks on every possible administrative and employment related grounds. A perceived whistleblower was denied all of the Bureau internal remedies. The result was a fabricated and fictitious assault on the agent’s ability to perform their duty after 18+ years of service. An unnecessary lengthy and expensive and extremely damaging litigation resulted. Chief Counsels Office was once again directly implicated in the fabricated representation to a U S Congressman and administrative court of law. The assigned attorney was quickly and quietly employed by a sister agency before accountability by himself or his supervisors could be obtained. Multiple incidents of the agency falsely responding to Congressional inquiries can and will be provided.
The Bureaus second most powerful manager Deputy Director Edgar Domenech, himself filed a whistleblower complaint and publicly stated that the Bureau of ATF has a propensity for reprisal and he “knew” such actions would result in career suicide. This institutional pattern of fear does not create a transparent law enforcement agency and blatantly violates the No Fear Act. It should be noted that there are many dedicated and professional managers within ATF who have or have wanted to act ethically and professionally, only to suffer the same abuse as the field agents. Supervisors are transferred back to headquarters, demoted or their successful careers impeded at the hands of vindictive senior managers. It is unconscionable that such courageous Agents and Supervisors should be governed by such a hostile and pervasive institutional mandate of fear.
A Special Agent attempts to resist an investigation using unlawful wiretaps. The Special Agent openly challenges and reports it to superiors. After 20 + years of exemplary service, the next 1 ½ years results in the Special Agent and his family being transferred 5 times, suspended for 3 days, attempts made to have a psyche evaluation conducted, 2 letters of reprimand, and ultimately a termination. ATF Counsel agreed to settle the complaint in concert with the complainant’s attorney present when unlawful and unethical practices were uncovered on the part of SES managers during sworn testimony. In the case of this whistleblower/grievant, not one significant act of misconduct was documented for over 20+ years of decorated service until the very night that the complaint was made. Once the depositions were cancelled, ATF Chief Counsel’s office indicated there would be no settlement. This protracted the litigation and insured a much more costly settlement and a further waste of taxpayer’s funds. Documents requested 12 months prior to the hearing dates, were turned over just days before the complainant’s response was due. These documents existed all along and ATF counsel refused under lawful authority to relinquish them and in fact denied their existence.
The government mobility agreement is used contrary to law and ethical designs to punish Agents without due process and often times without justification. Complainants or those who would challenge unethical and/or illegal acts by Special Agents in Charge or senior managers are often threatened with collecting their next pay check in Fargo, North Dakota or Anchorage, Alaska. This violates the reprisal laws, the No Fear Act and the intent of the “good of the Bureau” ability to relocate agents. This practice is paramount to waste fraud and abuse because hundreds of thousands of dollars are wasted for the retaliatory transfers.
Internal Affairs is regularly used by ATF to generate credibility issues against complainants while ignoring the substantive whistleblower complaints which originally initiated internal affairs involvement. An anonymous letter was sent to the Department of Justice OIG from Las Vegas, Nevada alleging government Fraud waste and abuse. The OIG provided the letter to ATF Internal affairs for follow up investigation into the allegations contained in the anonymous letter. One of the primary objectives by ATF Internal Affairs investigators was to identify the author of the anonymous letter. During theInternal Affairs investigation, ATF identified an Agent who ATF had perceived to have been the whistleblower. This Agent became the recipient of vindictive personnel actions that ranged from a letter of reprimand to a notice of proposed removal from Federal service. Further investigation identified the true author of the letter and he/she admitted to being the author of the letter. ATF management then directed their attack on the actual whistleblower. ATF continued their attack on the perceived whistleblower and terminated him from Federal service. The Agent was later reinstated by ATF after appealing his removal to the MSPB. An Agent who provided documentation that supported the above agent’s allegations later became the target of reprisals for assisting the agent unknowingly after a demand for the documents was made by the agency.
The Wireless Communication Section (WCS) routinely discriminates against its older Telecommunication Specialists by subjecting them to a hostile work environment. In one case a Telecommunications Specialist with a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering was fired for technical incompetence. In another case a Telecommunications Specialist in his sixties with bad knees was being forced by WCS to attend a radio tower climbing school, something his bad knees would not allow him to complete so he retired. On several occasions, Telecommunications Specialists assignments have been changed to create hardship and as an act of reprisal to expedite a constructive retirement. Unwarranted disciplinary actions along with unsatisfactory annual performance evaluations are arbitrarily used to retaliate against employees. Many current Telecommunication Specialists left their old agency to come to ATF under the Pay Demo system in order to get the equivalent of as GS-14 salary. This system attracted the best and brightest from other agencies. WCS lacks leadership and relies on a hostile work environment as a means of managing our employees and assets.
Multiple substantive official allegations against senior managers go uninvestigated. One senior manager was alleged to have ignored ATF policy and procedure with regards to massive amounts of missing government property and certifying such documents knowingly. Another senior manager participated in the concealment of the intentional destruction of a Special Agent’s badges in an act of reprisal. He conspired to conceal the act and failed to report this act which is the willful and wanton destruction of sensitive government property. Both of these managers remain in the SES program.
Senior executive staff members have been advised directly and informally of the abuses and are either unwilling or incapable of making the necessary policy changes to prevent the ongoing abuse.
ATF’s Counsel’s Office, ELRB and HR resources act in concert to proactively attack and destroy Agents who complain and to deter others from acting on whistleblower or discrimination practices. Letters challenging mental and emotional stability are common practice. Low evaluations and letters of reprimand not consistent with Bureau practices are used. The agency pursues Psyche evaluations and forced reassignments, unjustified integrity investigations which would normally amount to nothing more than a local management issue if the agent had not been a complainant ATF knowingly and intentionally ignores EEO laws, procedures and practices. Although the law requires discrimination investigations to be addressed within 180 days, ATF has an average time to investigation exceeding 300 days. ATF counsel regularly and unethically delayed the procedures at every turn. This has generally gone hand in hand with ongoing and often times withering acts of reprisal to cause the complainant to drop their complaint. Whistleblower and discrimination complaints have become synonymous with career suicide and stated publicly by Edgar Domenech in his whistleblower complaint. As the second most powerful man in ATF he felt compelled to author anonymous letters out of fear for his career. Senior ATF managers are not required to testify in hearings, depositions or any other personnel action without ATF counsel present. Management statements are reviewed by Chief Counsel’s Office before they are submitted to the investigator. “Attorney Client” privilege is often invoked to protect the individual managers, not the Agency. The authors of this action will testify before Congress or meet with the Director without the benefit of counsel and will not invoke their right to the attorney client privilege if the agency heads will do the same. The truth remains the truth negates the need to hide behind legal representation. Managers are prepared and their testimony crafted by ATF Counsel, after the fact to attempt to conceal their reprisals. In one cases a Senior Executive schedule manager being groomed for a Special Agent in Charge stated “I do not know”, or I don’t recall” over 100 times during one sworn deposition. These responses were related to direct questions about actions he was responsible for or policies he was relying upon to defend his actions against the employee. Why would a manager be elevated to such a level if he cannot recall or doesn’t know ATF policy?
ATF does not recognize the wasteful process of ignoring legitimate employee concerns. Multiple Whistleblower and discrimination complaints which could and should have been resolved at the lowest level were escalated to a full blown legal battle due to the Bureau’s institutional mandate not to accept responsibility for its mistakes. ATF counsel’s office resists mediation or alternative dispute resolution measures due to the false assumption that this will create a flood of complaints. ATF has written millions of dollars worth of damages checks, court costs, travel funds and wasted man-hours on complaints which could have been handled with a hand shake. This is done with impunity and no oversight.
The standing philosophy that Whistleblower and discrimination complainants are automatically the enemy of the Bureau creates unnecessary litigation and results in higher monetary settlements. The Bureau is currently relying on sound-bite enforcement and failing to pursue sound investigative priorities.
Assignments to historically unfavorable positions and job duties have flown under the radar as reprisal. However, significant positions related directly to the successful mission are used to push senior agents out the door or to force compliance by junior agents. The field divisions’ operations officers are critical and essential to the effective management of ATF’s Mission. Yet consistently these positions are used to punish individuals who have made complaints, filed grievances or to ensure the constructive retirement of otherwise happy and productive senior agents. Agents are regularly threatened with assignments to TOO or other jobs or details for the sole purpose of causing hardship on the agent.
Agents are subjected to gross disparities in scrutiny or surveillance of their performance or work product if they file Whistleblower complaints, grievances or discrimination complaints.
The signatures on this document represent some of the most egregious abuses of authority over the past three years. However, the list of Agents, Inspectors and clerical staff who are willing to provide documents and direct sworn testimony related to the violations and abuses contained in this letter is significantly larger. The total lack of leadership and oversight has diminished the Bureau’s ability to perform its Mission at the lowest level. Collectively we intend to see that “Our” Bureau’s credibility and standing in the law enforcement community is restored to the level it once held.
It should be noted that in each case, the employees referenced in this letter made every attempt, sometimes heroic attempts, to resolve their grievances at the lowest and most informal level. Every representation contained in this letter is supported by memoranda, court documents and sworn depositions and internal written communications. This is a nationwide vote of no confidence.
G/S Rene J. Jaquez, Phoenix
S/A Jay Dobyns, Arizona
S/A Vincent A. Cefalu, California
S/A Kelly Niess, California
S/A Paul Jessen, New Mexico
S/A John Taylor, Nevada
S/A Jim Tokos, Nevada
Investigator Robbie Mcgowan-Butler, California
Radio Tech Stephen Swift, California
Admin Assistant Phyllis Goins, California
S/A Stephen Carman, California, Ret.
S/A Charlie Fuller, Tennessee, Ret.
S/A Sierra Donaven, Michigan, Ret.
Joesph Stafford, Ret. OCDETF Coordinator, California
Adam Delgado, Illinois, Former ATF S/A
Eugene Richards, Illinois, Former ATF S/A