On Tuesday February 18th, 2014 at Evo A. Deconcini U.S. Federal Courthouse, Tucson, Arizona there was the closing arguments for Dobyns v. USA. Jay Dobyns former special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco has been in court as a plaintiff against the ATF and DOJ for the last 5 years in a breach of contract case.
As Dobyns explained after court on Tuesday, “In 2008 following the arson of my home I notified ATF headquarters executives by policy using their internal channels that corrupt ATF managers in Phoenix were trying to frame me for the attempted murder of my family. Those executives ignored me and ultimately those same managers were permitted to stay on the job and go on and oversee Operation Fast and Furious… The DOJ strategy to defend my truthful allegations was to deny the truth and morph the truth to counter sue me and hope to out resource me in an attempt to create a financial forfeit on my part. This is how Eric Holders DOJ with the words Justice in its title handles Americas business and treats are law enforcement officers.”
Dobyns spent years undercover in the Hells Angels as part of Operation Black Biscuit. He was involved in bringing many suspected criminals to justice and his time undercover afforded him many frightening enemies with the most dangerous gang on the west coast. He is the only member of ATF to ever receive full membership into the Hells Angels.
After leaving the Hells Angels Dobyns received death threats on a constant basis from his former gang and other criminals, but his identity was hidden. Four months after Dobyns covert identifications were suddenly and inappropriately removed his house was destroyed in an arson attack. The fact his covert identities were removed surprised Dobyns considering the multiple creditable death threats he and his family had been receiving.
In August of 2008 Dobyns house was set ablaze by an arson attack. His family escaped the house safely, but extensive damage was done.
When the ATF began an investigation into who was the perpetrator of this arson attack evidence shows that Dobyns was their main suspect. Other suspects Dobyns listed to the ATF were almost completely ignored, although one Pima County Sheriff visited one of the suspects and asked only a couple of questions. That is the only evidence of other investigations into the arson attack. The ATF attempted to as Dobyns claims frame him for burning down his own house. After 27 years as a federal law enforcement agent the ATF blamed Dobyns for the attack and did not provide a proper investigation.
The ATF and DOJ attempted to ignore Dobyns in court by citing specific contract details which held no weight.
Dobyns referred to the report as ignored saying, “ATFs current executives including now Deputy Director B. Todd Jones ignored their own internal investigation. They gave a free pass to those found in violation of the law and supported the DOJ in playing every single dirty trick and unethical trick in the lawyer’s handbook.”
“Inappropriately, maybe unlawfully”, said Judge Francis Allegra in direction of the 11 specific violations of ATF statute that were violated by ATF surrounding the arson of Dobyns house.
The eleven violations, (underlined for emphasis on the IAD report of investigation) are:
1. Inadequate Response Time to the Fire Scene by the Phoenix Field Division
2. Inadequate Staffing of the Response to the Fire Scene
3. Unauthorized Use of Electronic Surveillance (ES) to Record SA Dobyns’ Telephone Calls
4. Failure to Properly Document the Use of Electronic Surveillance as Required by ATF Orders
5. Failure to Report Investigative Activity in N-Force as Required by ATF Orders
6. Improper Designation of the N-Force Case File Regarding the Fire as 6(e) –Grand Jury Protected
7. Withholding Critical Information Regarding the Investigation from the Chain of Command, Including the SAC, Deputy Assistant Directors, Assistant Director’s, etc.
8. Continuing to Investigate SA Dobyns as a Suspect in the Fire After He Had Been Eliminated as a Suspect by Senior SA’s from the Phoenix FD
9. SA Dobyns Briefed as a Suspect in the Fire to the FBI
10. Pressure Applied to Certified Fire Investigator
11. ATF Failed to Offer a Reward for Information Regarding the Fire
While it is easy to understand a couple mistakes involving an investigation here there are eleven found improper or possibly unlawful steps taken. It is obvious Dobyns was the target.
The ATF and DOJ claim the ATF statutes violated do not constitute laws, but ATF internal rules that are only for internal procedures.
But Dobyns said afterwards, “The laws of ATF which are our orders, regulations, policies, our briefs. They are the laws of ATF. The Department of Justice wants to try to distinguish the laws of the agency, the laws that govern what we do, how we conduct our business. Which are all based in federal statutes. They want to try to distinguish that as not actual statutory law and therefore they didn’t break the law if they violated every single policy and procedure in the agency and that is not the case.”
The ATF countersued for an infraction by Dobyns for not providing a copy of his last book “No Angel.” The Federal government claims it was hurt by publically producing tradecraft secrets, but the government did not provide specific examples of where in the book these secrets were shown.
Dobyns also addressed the book saying, “It’s the double standard that is promoted by Eric Holder. They want to hold me accountable for a violation of some minor internal policy to notify them of the publishing of my book. But they don’t want to make their management and executives adhere to the fact that they tried to frame an innocent agent an innocent civilian for the attempt to murder his family in the most extreme ways. It’s a double standard that all of us as federal employees are subjected to.”
Ultimately what is so disturbing about this case is the alleged corruption at the ATF. Dobyns by all accounts, an amazing agent and good man, has been abandoned by the agency he fought on the front lines for. If the ATF is willing to treat their own this way then how might they behave towards regular civilians or alleged criminals? With a DOJ under Eric Holder the demonstrative accounts of complete incompetence and corruption continue to pile up. For Dobyns justice may be served, but for many the price of litigation and the weight of the DOJ are too much.
We must have a DOJ that protects our federal employees from their agencies and supports them when they are under attack for work they did under orders given from the agency.
While the final ruling in this case is unknown the evidence stacks a high burden for the courts to ignore.
“The agency, the executives in this agency are very willing to ask me and people that do what I do to go toe to toe with the most violent criminals in the country and then when those violent criminals bring threats back home on us the agency wants to step away and tell you. You are on your own there is nothing we can do about it. They don’t investigate, they don’t pursue, and they do not try to do anything to protect the agent. It’s a one way street with ATF they will take everything they can get, and then you’re not going to get anything back,” Dobyns said summarizing his experience with the ATF.