MILWAUKEE (AP) – The head of the Milwaukee FBI office is under investigation for trying to influence a subordinate’s testimony in a lawsuit against the agency, court records show.
Court records show the Office of Inspector General started investigating Teresa Carlson, special agent in charge of the Milwaukee office, after it was alleged she told an agent who was to testify in a lawsuit involving another agent that it would be in his best interest to “come down on the side of the government,” the Journal Sentinel reported.
Carlson refused to testify last month in the case held in a federal courtroom in Virginia, telling the judge she was under investigation and wanted to consult an attorney.
Leonard C. Peace, spokesman for the FBI’s Milwaukee office, said Carlson is on temporary duty assignment at the agency’s Washington headquarters and doesn’t know if she will return to Milwaukee. Peace said he was not aware of the investigation.
Mark Crider, an agent, was about to testify in a lawsuit filed by Army veteran Justin Slaby, who was denied a job with the agency because of a disability. Slaby, who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, was preparing to deploy again when his hand was blown off in a training accident in Georgia.
Crider, an FBI firearms instructor, had determined Slaby was qualified to be an agent because he could shoot with his dominant hand. But FBI trainers at Quantico, Va., saw it differently and kicked Slaby out of the academy.
Carlson spoke with Crider after learning he was going to testify for Slaby.
“She then went into a protracted dialogue about why Slaby should never be an agent since he was handicapped,” Crider noted in a statement He typed immediately after the meeting.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Ivan D. Davis sanctioned the government Thursday for the conduct of Carlson and other FBI officials in the case. He wrote it would be up to the jury to determine if Carlson attempted to get Crider to commit perjury, but he said there is no dispute that she met with Crider about his testimony.
Davis called Carlson’s conduct “wholly inappropriate” and said it “could have resulted in erosion in the integrity of the judicial process.”
The judge ordered that a joint statement from attorneys for the FBI and Slaby be given to the jury during the trial, which is set to begin July 29 in Alexandria, Va. The statement says Carlson tried to sway Crider’s testimony.
Slaby, 30, is a Wisconsin native who now lives in Virginia. The FBI has prohibited him from speaking to the media, according to his attorney, Kathy Butler.
“It’s a very important civil rights case,” Butler said. “The thing we should hold dear is when people go off and sacrifice for their country, they deserve a fair shake when they come back. That is an obligation we as American citizens owe.”
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com