On Wedhesday ATF (Alcohol, Tabacco, Firarms & Explosives) Special Agent Vince Cefalu was fired in the parking lot of a Denny’s restaurant near Lake Tahoe. After being in the Bureau for more than 25 years and being involved in the whistle blowing that took place regarding Operation Fast and Furious, he was asked to meet with Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Division Joseph Riehl, where he was served termination papers.
What was unknown to Mr. Riehl, was that the entire episode was captured on video.
The video, shaky at times from being handheld, and with color imbalance streaking happening inadvertently in the uploading to YouTube, was recorded by a confidential source and shows Cefalu approached by two ATF management representatives including Joseph M. Riehl, Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Division, which encompasses Northern California and Nevada field offices, the latter being in the news of late because the Reno U.S. Attorney’s Office has refused to prosecute local ATF cases until as yet unidentified issues are resolved, prompting congressional inquiries to find out why.
ATF managers terminating whistleblowing special agent Vince Cefalu.
Video: Cefalu Termination
Riehl, seen talking to Cefalu through his Jeep window and reportedly telling him he couldn’t leave because he had to sign papers, had been criticized on the CUATF forum, and Gun Rights Examiner is attempting to track down audit reports to determine what an independent assessment reveals about the allegations there. But the bottom line is, an employee with over 25 years of service who has been a leading spokesman for whistleblowers was unceremoniously canned in a public parking lot by senior division management.
Crosby said Cefalu was fired for “lack of candor.” He did not elaborate.
Cefalu has hired an Atlanta law firm to fight the dismissal.
“I have just been trying to do my job: make good cases, put away the bad guys, keep the our citizens and our agents safe,” he said in a statement after his termination. “ATF management has been bending the rules and breaking the rules. The agents want ATF to be the proud agency it once was, not a place where some managers jeopardize our citizens and our cases. The behavior of ATF management has been speaking for itself with all the transfers, reassignments, resignations. It has been a mess and an embarrassment. That’s not the ATF I have devoted my career and life to, and I do not regret trying to change it.”
Cefalu was placed on administrative leave a year and a half ago after speaking out on Operation Fast and Furious. He also launched a website in 2009 to aid ATF agents to anonymously blow the whistle on corrupt behavior.
His attorney, Zahra S. Karinshak, who is with Krevolin & Horst issued a statement:
“Vince has tremendous courage. Anyone who infiltrates the KKK and biker gangs to bring them to justice has an incredible sense of dedication. Vince has a team who will fight for him in court as aggressively as he fought violent crime on our streets.”
Though ATF had attempted to fire Cefalu in 2011, he appealed the termination. That termination became effective on Tuesday resulting in the papers being delivered to him on Wednesday.
Special Agent Jay Dobyns wrote back in June of 2011 why Cefalu was targeted by the ATF. “ATF has done everything within their power to break this agent. They have been proactive in the destruction of his reputation, killed his career, ruined his personal finances and have had immense negative influence on his personal relationships and family members.
“Why?” Dobyns asked. “Because he didn’t go along to get along. He didn’t shut his mouth when ordered to. He didn’t sit back like a coward when he saw things being done wrong, unethically and illegally. Now they are proposing to take the last thing they still have control over but, have yet to act on, his job.”