Public Safety: Reno ATF Closed for Business?

In September 2011, Assistant US Attorney Sue Fahami in Reno, NV sent a letter to the ATF Reno office to tell them their office would not be prosecuting any of their cases until 'certain issues were resolved.' Four of the six agents in the office requested transfers and moved out of Nevada. Helen Dunkal, spokeswoman for the ATF San Francisco field division, which oversees Nevada, said they still have resources in Reno.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports the rift caused the ATF to dismiss cases “that involved people who had been indicted by federal grand juries on illegal weapons and drug charges. The prosecutors turned away other cases involving violent criminals, allowing them to walk free and face no charges.”

Once Senator Charles Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, learned about this rift he sent a letter to US Attorney Daniel Bogden on September 17 of this year. Senator Grassley wanted to know what the problems were and asked for a conference by September 26. He told Mr. Bogden “[R]efusing to even consider cases that might merit prosecution as a way to exert influence over a law enforcement agency appears to be an extremely broad application of your discretion.” Needless to say September 26 came and went without a conference.

Ms. Fahami not only stopped prosecuting their cases, but she also put them on probation. This means “agents must consult with federal prosecutors ‘prior to any proactive investigations’” and they can’t split cases between the US Attorney and District Attorney. It also involves little petty things like date stamping all reports and delivering packets to the prosecutor.

Vincent Cefalu, a whistleblower on the Operation Fast & Furious case, said the federal prosecutors have no authority to place the ATF on probation.

“Such an attempt to control law enforcement functions by federal prosecutors is outrageous, unprecedented and illustrates a total lack of competence and leadership at the highest levels at ATF and the San Francisco division,” he said.

The other problem is the waste of taxpayer money. All six agents were paid their usual salaries despite not working any cases. There’s only two agents left, but they’re still paying rent for the high rise building in Reno. The ATF also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to transfer the four agents to other places.

What is going on in Reno? What are these unresolved issues? Is this going on elsewhere in America? Acting ATF Director B. Todd Jones won’t give answers to Senator Grassley. 


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