RCL Exclusive

When an FBI Agent Gets Too Close to a Crooked Source

Justice investigators went looking for some bad behavior, and they found it.

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Headquarters told the FBI special agent to “deactivate” the snitch, but by then it was too late — the agent and the “confidential human source” were already too close.

They exchanged gifts and the unidentified FBI agent used his or her position to protect the source, even protect their “illegal business.” At least that’s the vague story put forth by D.O.J. Office of the Inspector General (OIG), who only meant to investigate an “inappropriate relationship” and ended up discovering much more.

“The OIG further found that the SA [special agent]: continued to use the CHS [confidential human source] after the CHS had been deactivated by the FBI; protected the CHS and the CHS’s illegal business; misused FBI assets for personal gain; and committed computer security violations, all in violation of federal regulations and FBI policy,” says a summary of an investigative report posted online [PDF].

It goes on: “The OIG also found that the SA improperly withheld information related to a state criminal investigation from a local police department, and provided false information to the police department regarding the CHS’s status as an FBI CHS, which actions were wholly inconsistent with the SA’s obligations as a federal law enforcement officer. The OIG also found that the SA lacked candor with the FBI and the OIG, in violation of FBI policy.”

The lack of detail doesn’t hide the fact that it’s the story of an FBI agent allegedly gone bad, tangled up in the very illegality he or she was supposed to be fighting.

It would hardly be the first time. Famously, former FBI agent John Connolly, Jr. was convicted in 2008 for his link to a murder that was arranged by infamous Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, among other crimes.

Connolly had recruited Bulger as an informant in the 1980s, but the relationship became shady when Connolly purportedly fed information to Bulger, rather than the other way around. That information included a warning that ended up getting another man killed.

Connolly was sentenced to 40 years in prison, but could reportedly be released on parole in 2039.

Whatever the details of the more recent case described by the OIG, the agent’s conduct apparently wasn’t as dangerous as Connolly’s.

The IG said the Justice Department declined to prosecute the purportedly dirty fed, but said it turned its findings over to the FBI for “appropriate action.”