FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CIV
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 1998 (202) 616-2765
TDD (202) 514-1888
FEDERAL JUDGE DISMISSES SUIT AGAINST FBI AGENT IN ADM CASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A federal judge has dismissed with prejudice a civil damages suit a former Archer Daniels Midland Corporation executive filed against an FBI agent who was his primary contact in the government's antitrust investigation of ADM, the Department of Justice announced today.
The action by Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal of U.S. District Court in Springfield, Illinois, bars Mark E. Whitacre, the executive, from ever again bringing the accusations against Brian Shepard, a special agent in the FBI's Decatur, Illinois, office. Bernthal signed the order February 2.
Whitacre, a high ranking executive of the giant agricultural firm at the time of the investigation, was a cooperating witness in the federal government's antitrust investigation of allegations that ADM conspired with its competitors to fix the prices of certain products it manufactured in violation of the Sherman Act (USC 15, Sec.1). Shepard, the FBI's lead investigator in the ADM case, worked closely with Whitacre during the government's investigation of ADM from 1992 through 1995.
In his January 13, 1997, complaint, Whitacre, who covertly taped for the government numerous conversations and meetings in which the price-fixing scheme was discussed, accused Shepard of various acts of misconduct in the investigation.
The Department of Justice, in filing a reply on behalf of Shepard on July 28, 1997, that asked the court to substitute the United States as a defendant, noted that at all times covered by the complaint Shepard was acting within the scope of his official duties as an FBI agent. The Department also sought the outright dismissal of Whitacre's dubious claims against Shepard, asserting that Whitacre's lawsuit failed to factually support his claim that his constitutional rights had been violated.
At the same time, the Department, in replying to Whitacre's claims under Illinois law, again asked the court to substitute the United States as the defendant, saying Shepard was acting within the scope of his federal employment.
Whitacre, who never responded to the Department's actions, filed a motion January 29, 1998, seeking the voluntary dismissal of his civil lawsuit with prejudice.