By ERIC TUCKER
WASHINGTON (AP) — A former leader of the FBI’s Milwaukee field office used “extremely poor judgment” in appearing to try to influence the testimony of a subordinate in a disability discrimination lawsuit, according to a Justice Department inspector general report issued Wednesday.
The report concerns a discrimination complaint brought by Justin Slaby, a Wisconsin native who had lost his left hand in an Army training accident and sued after he was turned down for promotion to a job as a special agent. He alleged in his lawsuit that the FBI had failed to consider accommodations, such as the use of a prosthesis, that would have allowed him to do the job despite the disability.
The inspector general report said Teresa Carlson, then the top agent in the Milwaukee office, created an appearance of trying to improperly shape the testimony of a special agent who was scheduled for a deposition in the lawsuit. That agent, a firearms instructor named Mark Crider, had determined that Slaby was qualified to be an agent because he could shoot with his dominant hand and was prepared to testify to that point.
Crider alleged that Carlson had told him that his testimony should “come down on the side of the government in this matter,” by saying that Slaby was not qualified to be an agent. He said that Carlson told him that Slaby, an FBI telecommunications specialist, should never be an agent because of his disability and that he should be satisfied with the job he had.
Carlson denied making the remarks attributed to her, but the inspector general’s report says it concludes that Crider’s recollection was more credible.
“We concluded that regardless of whether Carlson intended with her statements to influence Crider’s deposition testimony, the statements created the appearance that Carlson was attempting to do so,” the report said.
Carlson, who has since been transferred from her position in Milwaukee to one in Washington, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
FBI spokesman Paul Bresson declined to comment, saying it’s an ongoing personnel matter.
The inspector general’s office said it referred its findings to the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, which declined to prosecute Carlson.
Slaby’s lawsuit went to trial last year in federal court in Virginia. A jury ruled in his favor and awarded him $75,000 for emotional pain and suffering.