Saturday, April 9, 2011

When It Rains, It Pours

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is a public relations pro's nightmare. Just when things seem they can't be any worse given the gunwalking allegations of Operation Fast and Furious, comes news of an ATF Special Agent being arrested in Virgina on Federal felony charges of theft, fraud, and firearms violations.

US Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy of the Western District of Virginia announced the arrest of BATFE Special Agent Clifford Dean Posey on Wednesday.
In an indictment returned under seal on Tuesday, the grand jury has charged Clifford Dean Posey, 43, of Chesapeake, Va. with six counts of wire fraud, six counts of embezzlement, two counts of possessing stolen firearms, four counts of making false statements and two counts of money laundering. The indictment was unsealed earlier today following Posey’s arrest and initial court appearance.

According to the indictment, as part of his duties Posey came into possession of various items of property that were under his control, including but not limited to firearms, cigarettes, tobacco products and United States currency.

Beginning no later than 2007, Posey began falsifying documents relating to firearms under his custody and control in order to embezzle and convert them to his own use. On one occasion included in the indictment, Posey advertised for sale firearms he had come into custody of by virtue of his employment.

The indictment charges that during 2010 the defendant assisted in the investigation of illegal cigarette trafficking. Posey obtained the access code to a storage unit containing cigarettes intended for use in undercover tobacco investigations. The defendant later contacted two potential targets of the investigation and offered to undercut the negotiated ATF price, an action the defendant was not authorized to take and one he failed to disclose to ATF, as pursuant to protocol.

Beginning in July 2010 Posey was the lead case agent in an undercover tobacco investigation and, in that capacity, was entrusted with the custody and control of cigarettes and other tobacco products. The indictment alleges that on four separate occasions from September 4 through November 19, 2010, Posey sold cigarettes in his control by virtue of his employment, retained the proceeds and failed to report the transactions to the ATF or any other law enforcement officers working on the investigation.

The indictment also alleges that Posey falsely submitted receipt and release reports to the ATF regarding firearms. The defendant claimed in the reports that several stolen firearms were either released to the rightful owner or destroyed, when in fact the defendant had taken possession of those firearms.
Because Posey was assigned to the Norfolk-Hampton Roads area of Virginia, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia recused his office from this case.

Eastern Virgina comes under the jurisdiction of the ATF Washington Field Division. Until December 2010, the Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Division was Edgar Domenench. He was appointed Sheriff of New York City by Mayor Bloomberg on December 7th. Domenench was Deputy Director of ATF but was demoted in 2008 to the position of SAC for the Washington Field Division for what he claims was his whistle blowing about cost overruns in the construction of the new ATF Headquarters. According to the scuttlebutt on CUATF, Domenench was a weak and abusive leader. If that is true, it probably isn't surprising that an agent under his control was a crook.

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