2015 Investigative Summary 2
Investigation of Alleged Conflict of Interest, Including Appearance of Conflict of Interest;
Failure to Keep Client Informed; Abuse of Authority or Misuse of Official Position; Failure to Comply with Discovery;
Conduct Unbecoming a Federal Agent
A defendant's attorney made misconduct allegations against both a DOJ attorney and a law enforcement agent in connection with the investigation and prosecution of a former law enforcement official. Defense counsel alleged that the DOJ attorney and the agent were engaged in a long-term romantic relationship while they were investigating the case.
Defense counsel also alleged that during a telephone conversation with the defendant's prior attorney, the DOJ attorney threatened to arrest the defendant, and force him to take a "perp walk" out of his office, if the defendant did not stop spreading rumors about the DOJ attorney's relationship with the agent. Further, defense counsel alleged that the DOJ attorney violated her assurances to the defendant's former attorney that the defendant would not be indicted while the attorney was in trial in another case.
OPR initiated an inquiry, which it later converted to an investigation. OPR expanded its investigation to determine whether the DOJ attorney's supervisor improperly instructed her to obtain an indictment after the DOJ attorney informed her supervisor that she had assured the defendant's former attorney that the defendant would not be indicted while the attorney was in trial in another case. OPR also investigated allegations that the agent may have lied when he testified at the defendant's bail modification hearing.
In addition, OPR investigated allegations that the alleged romantic relationship between the DOJ attorney and the agent affected a second case, in which, after the DOJ attorney was removed from the case, she filed a pleading with the court in her "personal capacity," responding to allegations that she was involved in a romantic relationship with the agent, who was also the case agent in that case.
OPR concluded that the DOJ attorney engaged in intentional professional misconduct by:
(1) engaging in intimate sexual conduct with the agent during regular work hours in government offices and government vehicles;
(2) concealing her relationship with the agent from the management of her component;
(3) making false representations to management about the nature of her relationship with the agent;
(4) making threats to have the defendant arrested and forced to take a "perp walk";
(5) failing to keep her supervisors informed of her assurance to the defendant's attorney that the defendant could appear in response to a summons, rather than being arrested.
OPR also concluded that the DOJ attorney exercised poor judgment by not producing drug test results of an important government witness to the defense in the first case, and by failing to disclose her long-term relationship with the agent to the court in camera in the second case. OPR further concluded that the DOJ attorney did not engage in misconduct or exercise poor judgment by failing to honor her agreement with the defendant's former attorney regarding the timing of the defendant's indictment because she acted pursuant to her supervisor's instructions that the defendant be indicted. OPR also found that the DOJ attorney did not commit misconduct or exercise poor judgment by filing a pleading in her personal capacity because she had a good faith belief that her supervisor had authorized her to file it with the court.
OPR found that the DOJ attorney's supervisor exercised poor judgment when he instructed the DOJ attorney to renege on the promise to the defendant's former attorney that the case would not be indicted while the attorney was in trial in another case. OPR further found that the agent violated the Code of Federal Regulations and the investigative agency's code of conduct by engaging in intimate sexual conduct with the DOJ attorney during regular work hours in government offices and government vehicles. Finally, OPR found that the agent did not commit perjury when he testified at defendant's bail modification hearing.
OPR referred its misconduct findings against the DOJ attorney to the PMRU for its consideration of appropriate discipline and to determine whether the DOJ attorney's misconduct should be referred to the bar. The PMRU upheld OPR's findings and suspended the DOJ attorney without pay for 14 days. The PMRU also authorized OPR to refer its findings to the bar. OPR also referred its findings against the agent to the DOJ investigative agency for its consideration of appropriate discipline.