21 May 2006

FBI Sleaze -- Surely A One-Time Event

The FBI, which does not stand for Female Body Inspector, despite all the T-Shirts sold in Hawai'i, remains as intent on investigating its lawbreaking employees as it does on bank robbers, kidnappers and terrorists. Too bad public money has to be spent on chasing down this crap:

From the El Paso Times, 13 April 2006:

Former El Paso FBI chief Hardrick Crawford Jr. was indicted by a U.S. District Court grand jury Wednesday on accusations of making a false statement about his relationship with a Juárez racetrack owner suspected of drug trafficking.

Crawford is facing five counts of making false statements or concealing material facts from federal officials, said Daryl Fields, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office for the Western District of Texas. Each count is a felony and punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Crawford could not be reached for comment. He was the special agent in charge of the El Paso FBI office from July 2001 through November 2003, a court document states.

Most recently, Crawford has been homeland security director for METI, a government technology contractor on Boeing Drive.

Mary Stillinger, Crawford's lawyer, said late Wednesday, "Mr. Crawford looks forward to finally being able to defend himself against these allegations that have been hanging over his head for two and a half years. There is a great deal of history behind the allegations in the indictment. When the all the facts are heard in court, we expect Mr. Crawford will be vindicated."

Fields said the indictment is a result of an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General, an extension of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Count one alleges Crawford made a false statement on June 6, 2003, in an FBI electronic communication regarding his association with Juárez Racetrack and Gaming Center owner Jose Maria Guardia.

Count two alleges Crawford concealed material facts from the FBI on June 6, 2003, regarding his association with Guardia.

Counts three and five allege Crawford made false statements in Office of Government Ethics Public Financial Disclosure Reports submitted to the FBI for calendar years 2002 and 2003 regarding gifts allegedly received.

Count four alleges Crawford made a false statement on Nov. 5, 2003, to the Office of the Inspector General during an agency investigation.

Court documents state Crawford met Guardia in February 2002, a few days after Guardia became an FBI informant. Guardia served as an FBI informant for about six months in 2002, the documents state.

"Thereafter, defendant Crawford socialized with Guardia, introduced his family to him, and engaged in a pattern of accepting gifts and favors from him," according to the grand jury charges.

Court records state that the alleged gifts included trips to Las Vegas and Mexico City, a membership to the Coronado Country Club, weekly lawn service at Crawford's home and a $5,000-a-month salaried position for Crawford's wife at the racetrack.

The grand jury charges allege Crawford socialized with Guardia despite FBI agents advising him that "reliable FBI sources in Mexico were reporting Guardia's involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering activity."

The document states that on May 22, 2003, Guardia took a FBI polygraph examination sought by Crawford. Crawford was notified that Guardia failed the examination, according to the grand jury charges.

The document further states that on May 27, 2003, Crawford attended a press conference at the Juárez racetrack and said he was not aware of Guardia's involvement in any criminal activity.

On June 6, 2003, Crawford in an electronic communication to the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility, the Security Division, and the Criminal Investigative Division made a statement that was "materially false, fictitious and fraudulent," according to grand jury charges.

"As an aside, database checks, source reporting, and agents with long tenure in the division advised no negative information existed (regarding) Guardia, who resides in El Paso," Crawford wrote according to the grand jury charges.

The grand jury charges state Crawford's statement in the electronic communication was "false" because he knew "negative information regarding Guardia did exist."

Guardia could not be reached comment.

In November 2003, the Times reported that the Justice Department was conducting an ethics investigation into Crawford's relationship with Guardia and the employment of Crawford's wife as Guardia's consultant.

Crawford, 54, retired abruptly as the top FBI official in El Paso on Nov. 7 after Jose de Maria y Campos, of the Mexican Foreign Ministry, accused Crawford of meddling in Mexico's internal affairs.

At the time, Stillinger said nothing was illegal or improper about Linda Crawford's employment by Guardia or about the former FBI official's relationship with Guardia.

In December 2003, the Mexican federal attorney general's office announced it had no evidence linking Guardia to money laundering.


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