Courts & Crime

Investigators chastise FBI official for ‘extremely poor’ judgment

Justice Department investigators have chastised an FBI official for exercising “extremely poor” judgment amidst a sensitive lawsuit.

Acting Deputy Assistant Director Teresa Carlson “conducted herself unprofessionally” while her actions were “highly inappropriate and reflected a troubling lack of judgment,” the department’s Office of Inspector General stated in the 45-page report made public Wednesday.

The highly critical report spins out of a lawsuit filed by Justin Slaby, a wounded former Army Ranger who uses a prosthetic in place of his missing left hand. Slaby had sued, charging discrimination, when he was dropped from FBI special agent training. He won, earning a place back in training.

Carlson was special agent-in-charge of the FBI’s Milwaukee Field Office where Slaby once worked, and she was named in several internal complaints.

One complaint charged Carlson with trying to influence how another special agent testified in a deposition taken for the Slaby lawsuit. The other complaint charged that Carlson admonished an agent for providing information to FBI inspectors about the office’s communications with local law enforcement in connection with a mass shooting at a Sikh temple in August 2012

In the two separate cases, investigators concluded, Carlson’s actions “created the appearance that she discouraged her subordinates from speaking candidly with inspectors.”

The special agent Carlson talked to prior to the Slaby lawsuit deposition filed an April 3, 2013 memo about their conversation, which the OIG included as an appendix.

“She then went into a protracted dialogue about why Slaby should never be an agent because he’s handicapped,” the agent reported of his conversation with Carlson, adding in his memo that “she told me my testimony should support the FBI’s position that he should not be an agent and that it would be in my best interest to come down on the side of the FBI.”

The OIG report called Carlson’s statements to the other agent “intemperate” and “especially careless.”

Carlson declined to voluntarily talk with the OIG investigators, but was interviewed after she was “compelled” to cooperate, the report noted. The Office of Inspector General forwarded the report to the FBI for possible disciplinary action. The Justice Department declined to prosecute, according to the report.

The FBI declined to comment Wednesday, citing it as a “pending personnel issue.” The report made public Wednesday did not include written response from the Bureau..