Something appears to have come between federal prosecutors and the ATF’s field office in Reno, Nevada.
The Reno Gazette-Journal last week reported that, for the past year, U.S. attorneys in Reno have refused to prosecute cases brought to them by local ATF agents. From the paper:
…in September 2011, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sue Fahami, who runs the Reno office, sent a letter to the Reno ATF agents saying “at this time we are not accepting any cases submitted by your office.” She said she would reconsider taking cases after certain unidentified “issues” were resolved. Those issues were not identified.
When the agents were unsuccessful at resolving the conflict, four of the six ATF Reno agents requested transfers to other offices. The four have moved out of Nevada, one to a supervisor post. Two agents remain, but sources close to the bureau say they aren’t working cases because they won’t be prosecuted. They now report to the ATF in Las Vegas.
According to the Gazette-Journal, federal prosecutors have also dismissed four ATF cases after the defendants had been indicted by federal grand juries.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) last week reportedly sent letters to Nevada U.S. Attorney Dan Bogden and acting ATF director Todd Jones, raising concerns about the rift.
“As a result (of the breakdown), the Reno ATF office has effectively been idled,” Grassley wrote to Jones. “It allegedly has no supervision, no cases and no investigative resources.”
Grassley requested that Bogden select people to brief the senator’s staff on the issue in a phone call this week.
In an email to TPM on Monday, a Justice Department spokeswoman acknowledged the rift in only the vaguest of terms.
“The Department is aware of and looking into the issue,” spokeswoman Allison Price wrote. “In the meantime, fighting violent crime in all of our districts, including Nevada, remains one of the Department’s top priorities.”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com