- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2002

FBI agents assigned as evidence technicians at the World Trade Center site have been accused by a fellow agent of stealing a $5,000 Tiffany crystal globe paperweight from there and giving it to an office secretary as a "memento."
Two senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are calling for a "full investigation."
Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, and a senior Republican, Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, said the accusations have been referred to the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General.
In a letter, the two senators asked FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III for his "personal and explicit assurance" that no retaliatory measures will be taken against the agent for any disclosures in the case.
"In addition to constituting a violation of proper evidence handling and of FBI regulations, several persons are being criminally prosecuted for stealing items from Ground Zero by the Department of Justice," the senators said. "As we understand it, this alleged government misconduct may already have had a negative impact on one such case."
FBI spokesmen John Iannarelli in Washington said accusations involving FBI agents are "taken seriously," but he could not comment because of the inspector general's investigation.
Paul McCabe, spokesman for the Minneapolis office, said that when the accusations surfaced, the office's special agent in charge, Deborah Pierce, immediately referred them to the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility in Washington.
Mr. Grassley said agents from the Minneapolis field office, assigned as evidence technicians at ground zero after the September 11 attacks, reportedly took the crystal paperweight from the site in an evidence bag.
"It's not only illegally taking evidence from a crime scene, but it's stealing from hallowed ground where thousands of people died on September 11," he said. "There have already been a number of prosecutions for removing items from ground zero. There is no question this is wrong.
"I don't think I have to explain how disgraceful this is," he said.
Mr. Grassley said the suspected theft was reported by FBI Agent Jane Turner, also assigned to the Minneapolis field office. He said she "decided to blow the whistle" after FBI officials declined to investigate the matter.
He said Miss Turner, a 24-year FBI veteran, was investigating a company in the theft of several items from ground zero when she discovered that Minneapolis agents assigned to an Evidence Response Team (ERT) at the World Trade Center had taken the globe.
"The ERT is supposed to secure and collect evidence at a crime scene. Their job is to preserve the integrity of a crime scene, not take from it and disrupt it," he said.
Mr. Grassley said when Miss Turner first reported the suspected theft, she was told that "it wasn't a big deal."
"Well, I do think it's a big deal. I think it's outrageous. And I suspect the loved ones of the 9/11 victims would think this is an outrage," he said. "Maybe some people who work at these scenes think that taking something is OK, like it's a trophy for their hard work.
"This makes me wonder what else these agents stole, if they were generous enough to give an expensive crystal globe to a secretary," he said.
Miss Turner is the second Minneapolis agent to accuse bureau personnel of wrongdoing. Earlier this year, FBI Agent Coleen Rowley accused officials at FBI headquarters of mishandling information developed in Minneapolis concerning terror suspect Zacharias Moussaoui.
Mr. Grassley said Miss Turner retrieved the globe and has given it to the Inspector General's Office.
Her attorney, Stephen Kohn, said his client was "troubled and extremely concerned" that no one was taking any corrective action, adding that she felt "compelled as her ethical duty" to treat the matter as a potential crime. He said the globe had been on display at the Minneapolis office for several weeks.
Mr. Grassley said that while the incident might be "embarrassing for the FBI there has to be consequences. In this case, it looks like there are a few bad apples who did something wrong. And no one wanted to deal with it, so Agent Turner had to blow the whistle."
In their letter, Mr. Leahy and Mr. Grassley assured Mr. Mueller that the accusations by Miss Turner, who already has been interviewed by the committee staff, would be fully investigated.


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