ATF Whistleblower Backs Up Latest Allegations Against William Newell

According to a story by’s Katie Pavlich, credible death threats against one of the ATF agents who blew the whistle on the Operation Fast and Furious debacle were ignored by the ATF.


Further, ATF attempted to frame him for arson:

Jay Dobyns is a father, husband and 25-year highly respected and highly decorated Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent.

Dobyns has put a number of the nations’ most violent criminals behind bars, which naturally comes with threats from those criminals and their buddies in return. After he finished his work bringing down the Hells Angels, things were no different.

Approximately a year after Operation Black Biscuit concluded beginning in 2004 through 2008, Dobyns and ATF became aware of credible and substantial violent threats against him and his family. Those threats included plans to murder him either with a bullet or by injecting him with the AIDS virus, kidnapping and torturing his then 15-year-old daughter and kidnapping his wife in order to videotape a gang rape of her. Dobyns and ATF also learned contracts were solicited between the Hells Angels, the Aryan Brotherhood and the MS-13 gang to carry out these threats.

Dobyns reported these threats to Special Agent in Charge William Newell, asking for protection for his family. The threats were based in Arizona and Dobyns lived in Arizona at the time. Newell was in charge of investigating and handling all threats made against agents working out of the ATF Phoenix Field Office. The threats were ignored. When Dobyns essentially “blew the whistle” on Newell, pointing out his failures to address violent death threats against a federal agent, he was retaliated against. Newell dismissed the threats and then covered up his blatant dismissal of those threats within the Phoenix Field Office.


This is the same William Newell who was in charge of Fast and Furious — the operation which allowed thousands of military-style weapons into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels — and who apparently lied to Congress about his involvement.

According to Pavlich, Newell was sanctioned for his failures by the Office of the Inspector General:

Additionally, in response to the ATF/FBI interview, despite all the evidence the death threats were credible, Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Division John Torres, who like Newell has also been promoted into ATF headquarters, informed Dobyns through an email, “The Chief of Operations Security does not deem the emergency action is required as of this date and time.”

Later, a DOJ Inspector General report concluded that management within the ATF Phoenix office, despite having the necessary resources, did not adequately address threats made against Dobyns and found “absence of any corrective measures proposed to address the failure to conduct timely and thorough investigations into the death threats made against Dobyns.”

In addition, a U.S. Office of Special Counsel report concluded, “I note with concern the absence of any corrective measures proposed to address the failure to conduct timely and thorough investigations into the death threats made against Special Agent Dobyns. ATF does not appear to have held anyone accountable in this regard. Fully addressing the problems and failures identified in this care requires more than amending ATF policies and procedures. It requires that threats against ATF agents be taken seriously and pursued aggressively and that ATF officials at all level cooperate to ensure the timely and comprehensive investigation of threats leveled against its own agents.”


Well, Dobyns’ house was then set on fire.

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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