Posted: 12:37 pm RT
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Unlike the MSPB, the Foreign Service Grievance Board does not identify its precedential decisions but the case below on administrative leave is worth noting whether this is precedent setting or not. In this case, FSGB says that administrative leave is 1) not an entitlement, 2) that it is a prerogative administered by management to meet the needs of the Service, 3) and that Department was not obligated to provide grievant with an explanation for its decision to deny admin leave.
Grievant is a Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent who became involved in an altercation with a local civilian while off duty during a temporary duty (TDY) assignment in Honolulu. This incident resulted in the discharge of his service weapon and the death of the civilian. The State of Hawaii brought criminal charges against grievant, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) declined to represent him, finding that the incident was not the consequence of an official act or performance of his official duties.
For unspecified reasons, the Department placed grievant on administrative leave twice: first, in the aftermath of the shooting, when he was under judicial order not to leave Honolulu, and second, during the pendency of his first trial in 2013 (which resulted in a hung jury). Facing a second trial in 2014, grievant asked the Department to place him on administrative leave again. The Department ultimately denied this latter request and upheld its decision in an agency-level grievance.
Grievant acknowledged that under regulation (3 FAM 3464) the Department has discretionary authority to grant or deny administrative leave. He argued that although the Department is not compelled to grant his request, the weight of both equity and precedent suggest that it should do so. He asserted that the circumstances under which the Department earlier took the initiative to place him on administrative leave are substantially the same as those for which he later requested administrative leave (i.e., for his second trial) and arise from the same incident. He contended that if the Department is to “change” its decision regarding whether to grant him administrative leave, it must provide him an explanation of why it did so.
As the instant appeal does not concern discipline, grievant bears the burden of demonstrating that his grievance is meritorious. We found that grievant had failed to demonstrate that the Department had any obligation to approve his request for administrative leave or that it had violated any law or regulation in not doing so. Finally, we found that the facts of this case do not establish that the Department “changed” its decision; rather, the various decisions it made regarding whether to place grievant on administrative leave were separate, independent decisions. The Board concluded that the Department was not obligated to provide grievant with an explanation for its decision to deny AL. The appeal was denied in its entirety.
Read in full below:
- Oh Damn and Blast! @StateDept’s Administrative Leave Data Is One Hot Mess
- Issa — Kerry Paper Shuffling Saga: What’s With the 7-Month Administrative Leave?
- The Other Benghazi Four: Lengthy Administrative Circus Ended Today; Another Circus Heats Up
- The Peter Van Buren Chronicles — John Brown Interviews State’s FSO-Non Grata
- What do you do with a “problem” like Peter Van Buren? Take away his badge, escort him out, bar the door, throw away the key and ….
Posted: 3:26 pm ET
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But not really.
In February 2014, we posted about an anonymous Foreign Service officer who got on Reddit, the “front page of the Internet” and did an AMAA (Ask Me Almost Anything) see IamA United States Diplomat: Anonymous FSO Gets on Reddit and He’s a Riot! Three days ago, a Diplomatic Security Service Agent got on Reddit and did an AMA (Ask Me Anything). The thread is not quite as popular as Anonymous FSO’s, nor as funny, but informative nonetheless though the discreetness maybe debatable. It includes Q&As about risks, donuts, Hillary Clinton, indirect fire, USSS, James Bond, training, the best/worst part of the job, and um…folks, “badge bunnies.” It does not look like anyone among the Reddit users tried to scare the DSS agent with the FAM but perhaps one doesn’t need scaring anymore given that the FAM is not regulations.
While we discovered that Anonymous FSO’s AMA disappeared from Reddit last year (Whoa! What happened to the Anonymous FSO on Reddit?), the DSS Agent’s AMA only lasted three days before it went poof! A photo of the DSS badge, with a scrawled 6/30/16 and handle is still up on Imgur.
All answers to the questions posted on Reddit have now been deleted, as well. The permalinks are provided below but the links to the answers will direct to the deleted page. The DSS Agent is using the handle Not_in_Benghazi and his answers in the snippets below are highlighted in blue font. Here’s the deleted introduction from Reddit:
Last week I was supposed to go to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for a business trip. I been to Riyadh a few times. Two days before I flew out the state dept. Issued a warning to all Americans in Jeddah about imminent threat of a terrorist attacks. This was the only trip, I have ever backed out of. Do you think I made the right choice? I got some heat for not going. I am engineer and was suppose to help with the kings tower on building it. I just want to know what a person Like you would advise? Sorry for typos on a phone. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/21/saudi-arabia-us-embassy-security-threat-jeddah
Risk tolerance is a very personal decision. I can tell you that the State Department does not issue those type of notices lightly, as they have obvious repercussions with the Host Nation, and the public.
When in doubt, do what you feel comfortable with.
Do you guys do donuts?
I love doughnuts. Who doesn’t? They are damn delicious!
Do you think attacks on Hillary Clinton over what happened in Benghazi are fair? permalink
I think being at the top is tough. I’m not going to defend or slam Clinton, but to assume she operated in a vacuum is absurd. Decisions are made with input from multiple sources, to include the National Security Council and the White House. Someone always has to bear the brunt of the blame in the public eye, however. permalink
What was the most dangerous situation you have been in while working for the DSS? permalink
Hmmm. Indirect Fire is arguably the most terrifying thing IMO. Service Members can feel free to agree or disagree, but something about hearing the alarms and not knowing when/where it will hit is a surreal experience. permalink
Do you find that people confuse you for the USSS a lot, especially on protective details? Also, in terms of protection, besides who the protectee is (SOS or other foreign dignitary vs POTUS, etc), is there any real difference between the work you do and what the USSS does?permalink
Ha ha ha. Absolutely. Nobody knew who the hell we were before Benghazi, and I’d argue very few do now. Sometimes it can work to our advantage ;).
I’d say we go about protection a bit differently, largely in-part because there are about 2000 of us (half of which are overseas at any given time), and nearly double that in the USSS. permalink
How did you come into this job?
What is the best/worst part of the job? permalink
I always wanted to be in Federal Law Enforcement and to live/travel abroad. I found out about DS in college and years later was hired.
Best – I’ve been paid to hang out with olympic athletes and visited approximately 30 countries, some of which most people have never even heard of.
Worst – The job is hard on a family. The joke amongst agents is that DSS really stands for “Divorced Separated or Single.” permalink
Is it easy to pick up women/men when you tell them what you so for a living or harder?
I imagine office dating must be pretty popular for you guys right? permalink
There are “badge bunnies” all over, so yes.
Eh, surprisingly I don’t think it as common as people think. I mean it definitely happens, but in general I think agents kind of stay away from other agents. It could be far too disastrous when things go south. permalink
Is there a better way of assessing authenticity? Also what makes you special as in special agent? permalink
As every federal, state, and local organization has different credentials, I can’t think of a better way other than calling “911” and inquiring.
The “special” is a legal term and indicates that our authority is limited in some way, shape, or form. We don’t have unlimited authority as agents of the government, instead, we have special authority to investigate specific statutes. That said, many states grant federal agents peace officer status within their jurisdiction. permalink
The event I was discussing was a long time ago. To be honnest, from what i’ve seen, no one is doing this “Crowd Diving” anymore.
What was the funnyest/oddest unscheduled stop or plan deviation that you have had to deal with? permalink
I’ve gone to a strip club with a group of foreign dignitaries and I’ve been “clubbing” on numerous occasions. permalink
How long was your training and hiring process? From the time you got your letter of offer to when you were deployed in the field?
Are you initially deployed with “less important, important protectees?” How do they work you in for you to get experience? permalink
Our hiring process is significantly faster than many other Federal agencies IMO. I applied and was made an offer approximately six months later. Our training consists of:
1) 3 weeks of foreign service specialist orientation; 2) 56 days of the Criminal Investigator Training Program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center; followed by 3) Approximately 3 months of DS specific training.
Then we get our creds, firearm, and badge.
Then later we go on to complete a 10 week high threat course (most agents do anyway), 3 month Basic Regional Security Officer Course, Basic Firearms Officer Course, and other firearms, language training.
There is a LOT of training out there and much of it is front loaded.
Almost every agent will start their tour in a field office and you protect whoever comes through town. You may be in a support role such as driving, early on, however, it doesn’t take long before you are thrown to the wolves. We are small and therefore are asked to take on higher levels of responsibility early on. It’s one of the things I love about the job. permalink
Do you find there is a lot of misinformation out there about ‘big brothers’ capabilities, in terms of gathering information and preparing for tragic events? I feel like everyone thinks it is all knowing and all powerful, but it can only be as human as the humans that run it right? permalink
While I cannot get into the specifics of the Whiz Bang behind what keeps us safe as anything worth discussing is sensitive and/or classified, I will say that this isn’t 24, Fast and Furious, or CSI. The dedicated work of thousands of government employees working together (sometimes) is what keeps the world (and the United States) safe IMO.permalink
Posted: 12:01 am EDT
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OAKLAND, Calif. – A federal judge has sentenced a British man to three years of probation and the forfeiture of $400,000 for his role in a visa-fraud scheme, announced Special Agent In-Charge David Zebley of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) San Francisco Field Office.
Madhu Santhanam, 41, was sentenced on January 7, 2016, by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in the Northern District of California following Santhanam’s guilty plea to a count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud.
In his December 10, 2014, plea agreement, Santhanam, owner of Maan Systems of Union City, California, admitted that he had submitted at least 25 fraudulent I-129 petitions between September 2009 and June 2013. Employers must submit these documents to obtain H-1B visas for highly skilled immigrant applicants seeking to work in the United States.
In many of his fraudulent I-129 applications, Santhanam falsely indicated that the applicants would be working at his company or placed at Fortune 500 companies, but instead he placed the workers at unapproved worksites. As part of his plea agreement, Santhanam paid a forfeiture judgment totaling $400,000.
The successful prosecution was the result of an investigation led by the DSS special agent assigned to the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), an interagency investigative body overseen by the Homeland Security Investigations Directorate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
So no jail time, only probation, and he forfeited $400K to USG, which is about $16K per fraudulent H1-B visa petition. A high risk, high return enterprise.
When the guilty plea was announced in December 2014, DOJ says that the maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to commit visa fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371 and 1546, is a maximum term of 5 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and 3 years of supervised release.
Wow! All that work for the feds, and over 12 months after the guilty plea, and not a single day in jail. What does it take before fraud like this gets taken seriously enough that we actually put people in jail?
Posted: 1:02 am EDT
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US Embassy Bogotá’s Regional Security Officer – Investigator (RSO-I) and its Criminal Fraud Investigator (CFI) were awarded the Major Juan Carlos Guerrero Barrera Medal by Interpol Colombia for the return of 31 fugitives from Colombia to the United States since January 2014. Whoa! That’s like … almost two fugitives a month from January 2014 to June 2015!
Since January 2014, Antonio and his staff have investigated, located, and returned 31 fugitives who were wanted in the United States for a variety of crimes. One criminal was a former weapons officer on a nuclear submarine who had been charged with grand larceny for allegedly defrauding his acquaintances of more than $1 million. Another was a physician assistant who allegedly forged signatures and made up diagnoses to submit to Medicare and Medicaid for millions of dollars in reimbursements.
But Antonio’s most notorious case involved an accomplished academic who had been featured on his home state’s Most Wanted list for allegedly committing sex crimes against children. He had managed to evade authorities for 22 years by going to great lengths to alter his appearance, including undergoing oral and plastic surgery to change his facial features, and getting skin grafts done to obliterate his fingerprints.
Antonio says, “People under extreme circumstances are capable of committing all kinds of crimes. But the one thing I can’t comprehend is how a person can harm a child. Someone like that does not stop either. He will continue finding new victims. That’s why I made crimes against children a top priority for my team.”
“We’re just three people, and what we do is not glamorous like those TV police dramas. The secret of our success is having top-notch people and maintaining strong working relationships with multiple law-enforcement partners. Criminal Fraud Investigator (CFI) Eduardo, Investigative Assistant Olga, and I work daily with our colleagues in DSS and other U.S. federal law-enforcement agencies, as well as with our local partners.
“Our joint work with the Colombian National Police, specifically with the Directorate of Judicial Police and Investigation and Interpol Colombia, and also with the Colombian Immigration Service, has been vital to accomplishing our investigative mission here in Colombia. This joint work and the ‘One Team, One Fight’ concept have been key to our success.”
Colonel Juliette Kure Parra says in her six years as head of Interpol Colombia, she has never had a closer working relationship with any other foreign police unit, and her team has not captured as many fugitives as with Antonio and his team.
In recognition of their accomplishments, the Interpol National Central Bureau awarded Antonio and Eduardo the Major Juan Carlos Guerrero Barrera Medal, named in honor of fallen Colombian police officer credited with having conducted the investigation that led to the targeted killing of the FARC’s terrorist leader, “El Mono Jojoy.” This is a very prestigious award only ever awarded to three other Americans, and the first time to a DSS special agent.
Originally posted by State/DS, Game Over for 31 Fugitives in Colombia.