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ATF Whistleblower Backs Up Latest Allegations Against William Newell

Fast and Furious whistleblower Vince Cefalu supports allegations that ATF Special Agent in Charge Newell just framed one of his own for arson.

by
Patrick Richardson

Bio

October 21, 2011 - 1:08 pm
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And ATF has named him as a suspect:

On top of ignoring death threats, recently Dobyns’ house was set on fire at 3 a.m. with his wife, son and daughter sleeping inside in a confirmed act of arson. It is suspected members of the Hells Angels, or close associates of the gang carried out the arson in retaliation of Dobyns’ undercover work.

When Dobyns reported the incident to both ATF and Newell, he asked for an investigation into the case. Newell not only refused to investigate, calling the incident “just scorching,” but allowed his subordinates, including Gillett, to attempt to frame Dobyns, accusing him of purposely burning down his own home with his family inside, has named him as a suspect and is investigating him. Newell conspired to destroy and fabricate evidence to “prove” his case. Emails, witness testimony, phone conversations and other documentation show the ATF Phoenix Field Divisions’ intentions, led by Newell, were to frame Dobyns, yet Newell denied under oath any involvement in this activity. His subordinates Gillett and ATF Tucson Group Supervisor over Operation Wide Receiver Charles Higman, also denied any attempts to frame Dobyns under oath, despite evidence showing otherwise.

According to ATF Special Agent Vince Cefalu — who has been the target of retaliation by ATF bosses himself — this is part of a pattern of behavior by ATF upper management:

These are just deplorable actions. It’s just nauseating; the family’s been through enough.

Cefalu said the response was lackluster at best:

 I was there three days after the fire, there wasn’t an ATF agent within a hundred … miles.

Cefalu was understandably incensed by the attempt to paint a decorated agent as an arsonist. Cefalu noted that had it been an FBI agent or DEA agent whose home had been burned, federal agents would have descended in droves.

Instead, he noted, the investigation was botched from the beginning. Cefalu said a neighbor saw a glow that might have been a cell phone in the backyard of Dobyns’ house, and agents tried back-channel to get the U.S. Marshals Service to ping the cellphone towers to try to find out who might have had an active phone in the area at the time of the fire — to no avail.

In addition, protocol would have made the investigation a federal matter, since it involved a federal agent who received death threats pertaining to some of his cases. That’s not what initially happened:

We [ATF] are the arson police, that’s what we do.

But instead of ATF leading the investigation, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department took the lead. Additionally, any information that Dobyns was a suspect should have been turned over to the FBI within 24 hours, as should any evidence ATF collected based on the death threats Dobyns had received. Instead, according to Cefalu, ATF waited 30 days:

Our policy is information has to be turned over to FBI within 24 hours. … ATF sat on it for a month. Nobody did nothing.

At this point, who burned down Dobyns’ house will probably never be known, according to Cefalu:

“All the physical evidence has been tainted,” he said, adding FBI never reduced interviews to writing, so there’s nothing even to go back to check against should fresh evidence or suspects be uncovered. “FBI did a lackluster job.”

According to Pavlich, this is par for the course where retaliation in the ATF is concerned:

Throughout the years it has become clear that ATF is more interested in protecting and promoting the corrupt practices of the men who have made careers profiting off of corruption, obstruction of justice and lies, like Newell, rather than rewarding field agents taking out dangerous criminals like ATF Special Agent Jay Dobyns, ATF Operation Fast and Furious Whistleblowers John Dodson, Pete Forcelli, Vince Cefalu and others for their bravery and sacrifice to fight violent crime and for exposing corruption within the agency. The bottom line is, ATF as an agency doesn’t care about recommendations or evidence of misconduct, in fact, the agency rewards screw ups on a regular basis.   The Dobyns case could be counted as the most reckless case of retaliation in ATF history, yet nobody has been held accountable for it.

It’s impossible for field agents to do their jobs if they cannot trust that management has their backs. At ATF it’s clear that not only is that not the case, but that the “bosses,” as Cefalu calls them, will not only hang agents out to dry, but are apparently willing to let them be killed in retaliation for blowing the whistle on their corrupt practices.

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Patrick Richardson has been a journalist for almost 15 years and an inveterate geek all his life. He blogs regularly at www.otherwheregazette.com, which aims to be like another SF magazine, just not so serious.
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