- The Washington Times - Monday, March 30, 2009

For the Binneys, the FBI is the family business.

David Binney, who died in October, had a career as a special agent that was nothing short of legendary. He was the lead investigator of the infamous “Pizza Connection” case, in which the mafia used New York pizza parlors to launder money and traffic heroin in the 1980s. He later rose through the ranks to become deputy director.

“Dave was an agent’s agent,” said former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, who served above Mr. Binney.

By that measure, Mr. Binney’s son, Steven, is the proverbial “chip off the old block.” He also is one of many agents who followed in the footsteps of fathers, mothers, uncles and other older relatives in joining the bureau.

On Friday, Special Agent Steven Binney was one of 38 people, mostly FBI agents, who received the bureau’s highest honors for work in domestic and international cases. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III called them “heroes in the truest sense of the word.”

Mr. Binney was among the 13 FBI agents and one Maryland state trooper who received the FBI Shield of Bravery for their roles in a dramatic 2007 standoff in Prince George’s County, where a man had threatened to shoot police at the U.S. Capitol and was a suspect in a bank robbery. The man, Michael Terry Smith, started shooting at law enforcement officers who came to arrest him. No one was injured. Authorities tried to negotiate with Smith for hours, but ultimately fatally shot him when he wouldn’t surrender or give up his weapons.

Mr. Binney was quick to steer praise away from himself, but he did say of his father: “I’m sure he’d be very proud.”

He also said he relied on his father’s counsel in the aftermath of the siege.

“My father and I actually talked about the incident when he was alive,” said Mr. Binney, whose brother is a former FBI agent.

Mr. Binney, who works in the Washington field office, is far from the only FBI agent who could seek such advice. While it is uncertain how many members of the same families have served in the FBI, it is not uncommon to see family legacies in the bureau.

Mr. Binney was one of three agents receiving awards at Friday’s ceremony whose fathers were agents.

Special Agent Sean Burke, who received the FBI Medal for Meritorious Achievement for his role in response to a 2008 grenade attack at a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, is the son of John Burke, a retired deputy assistant director.

And then there is the Murray clan.

Special Agent Kevin Murray was awarded the FBI Shield of Bravery for taking part in the same case as Mr. Binney. But Mr. Murray was receiving training overseas, so his father accepted the award on his behalf.

Dennis Murray also was an FBI agent, as were his three brothers. Mr. Murray, who served in the bureau for 37 years, said he and his brothers were inspired to join by their FBI-agent uncle.

“I’m proud as anything,” Mr. Murray said of his son becoming the third generation of the family to serve in the bureau. “He’s one good boy, hardworking, dedicated and he’s always enjoyed doing his duty.”

Steven Binney said it was his father’s example that led him to the FBI. “I saw him in his career and enjoy his career and decided to go on the same path, and I’m privileged to be a part of this organization,” he said.

Mr. Freeh said the elder Mr. Binney was a decorated Vietnam veteran - though he never spoke of his wartime service - and an accomplished agent, investigator and leader.

“His son is following in very sure history,” Mr. Freeh said.

And will either of Mr. Binney’s children - a 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son - follow his footsteps?

“I don’t know,” he said with a smile. “It’ll be interesting to see which paths they take.”


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