This West Is OUR West

Despite history of failures and corruption, William Woody back as BLM top cop

 

February 16, 2018

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“Woody initially hired Special Agent Dan Love sometime in 2005. Even though Love was an inexperienced field agent Woody hand picked and assigned Love as the lead case agent on the joint undercover investigation (code-named Ceberus Action) conducted by the Bureau of Land Management and the FBI.”

By Marjorie Haun

Part I of 2

William C. Woody is a long-time employee of the Department of Interior (DOI) and during President Obama’s first term was Director of Law Enforcement for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Woody headed up that division during the execution of Operation Cerberus Action, the 2009 federal sting that led to the deaths of 4 men in the Four Corners region. Two years following the deadly debacle, Woody was moved to the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife, where he also served as head of law enforcement. But interestingly, during the much-touted ‘reorganization’ of the Interior Department and its agencies, in April of 2017, Woody was reassigned to again take over law enforcement operations at the BLM.

FWS archives

 

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From the BLM national office

 

Woody’s history parallels that of the BLM’s most problematic and criminal figure, Dan Love, who worked as a law enforcement officer under Woody’s direction during Operation Cerberus Action. The so-called ‘antiquities sting’ resulted in militaristic raids on several private homes in the Four Corners by agents from the BLM and FBI. Dan Love played a key role in the deadly operation, and was on site for the most prominent raid when more than a hundred agents descended on the home Dr. James Redd of Blanding, Utah. Redd was brutally interrogated for hours while his home was ransacked by agents looking for evidence of illegal antiquities trading. Following the raid of their home, Redd and his wife were charged with a number of federal crimes. The morning following the raid, Redd took his own life in an attempt to spare his wife and family further federal prosecution. Dan Love was instrumental in the set up and execution of Operation Cerberus Action, but his behavior following the military raids was equally reprehensible. See more here: BLM Agent Dan Love: A cruel and unusual history

 

Unconfirmed reports place Woody and then-Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, at the home of James Redd during the June 10, 2009 raid. Other reports place them in the Moab, Utah BLM office, from which the Operation Cerberus raids were directed. Either way, William Woody and Dan Love were deeply involved in what is remembered in Utah as a senseless and ultimately tragic federal assault on human rights. It appears, however, that Woody’s move to Fish and Wildlife, did not stem his questionable activities. A leaked whistleblower document, which was mailed from the BLM office in Billings, Montana to Christopher Kortlander in 2012, contains disturbing descriptions of Woody’s conduct while at Fish and Wildlife. The document appears to be related to Freedom of Information (FOIA) Requests to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), and implicates William Woody as a party to cronyism, questionable expenditures and a culture of aggressiveness and misconduct. For starters, far from enhancing law and order, his appointment to FWS compounded lawlessness within the agency (pg 5):

William C. Woody has been Chief  (of FWS) OLE since March 2011.

Confusing is probably the best word to describe Woody’s appointment. The honest and ethical members of the OLE eagerly wanted to embrace him as this new town sheriff hired to clean up an organization that had turned into Animal House under his predecessors. However, this is not the case and he is following in the footsteps of his corrupt predecessors Chief Benito A. Perez, Chief Kevin Adams, Chief Thomas L. Striegler, Deputy Chief Thomas “Butch” Riley, Deputy Chief Gary Mowad and SAC Training & Inspection Monty Halcomb (resigned in 2000 for having pornography material on his government computer).

With the Government Service Administration (GSA) spending scandal and the U.S. Secret Service still fresh on the minds of the taxpayer Woody just doesn’t get it. In little over a year he’s taken multiple trips (weeks on end) throughout the United States and Hawaii as one extended victory lap/vacation on the government doll [sic] in furtherance of gaining subsequent employment in the private sector.

Woody was known (and resented) for spending taxpayer dollars on personal expenses (pp 5-6):

There should be outrage at the overwhelming scope of wrongdoing by the OLE and their culture of excess in violation of government policies. Someone needs to start turning over stones to see all the kinds of things crawling out. Can someone explain why it was necessary for Woody to meet with some fossilized Special Agent retirees in New Orleans, LA on April 4, 2012? Was it his wife’s birthday or did he need to place some bets at Harrah’s in the French Quarter?

Once again following the script of the corrupt GSA managers at this writing Woody is scheduling a July 2012 trip (with his family??) to the Big Island of Hawaii to attend the Western States Conference of FWS managers from other divisions and for subsequent travel to the U.S. Trust Territories of the South Pacific. What is the OLE nexus to these Divisions and why couldn’t a midlevel supervisory OLE Special Agent domiciled in Hawaii attend instead? Instead of expensing $10,000 +1-, is the agenda of this conference so time sensitive that Hall, Woody’s counterpart couldn’t brief Woody at  headquarters?

Woody is a seasoned Senior Executive Service member who is expected to display the highest standards and common sense, and prudent financial management, yet does neither.

Woody was apparently a party to favoritism, even when it put officers under his command at risk (pg 12):

RAC Richard Grosz (Bismarck, ND – 701854.34.8 1): Son of retired SAC Terry Grosz (Evergreen, CO). As a Good Old Boy member, Woody and his predecessors have violated OPM policy for allowing Grosz who is deaf in one ear from occupying a law enforcement position because of the medical implications of being deaf in one ear. As a member of the Good Old Boy network he can continue to work and be eligible for a full law enforcement retirement annuity when he turns fifty in October 2016.

An aggressive self-promoter, Woody used up OLES funds for frivolous travel. Despite his aspirations, others in the agency found him ineffective. His behavior reinforced negative stereotypes of federal agents (pp 15-16):

Woody was appointed the Chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement on March 7, 2011.

Woody had been promoting himself to Under Secretaries of the Department of Interior as Perez’ replacement as Perez approached mandatory retirement age of 57 in 2009 (Somehow Perez merely a high school graduate didn’t have his financial house in order and was allowed to work until 2010, at age 59).

Clearly the FWS-OLE Chiefs position is of a higher profile than that of BLM-OLE Chief. Woody views himself as a world traveler and bon vivant, yet he lacks the dynastic wealth to do so on his own. The scope of the FWS-OLE mission is international in scope. It has nexus to Interpol in Lyon, France, the State Department’s International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Gaborone, Botswana and the annual CITES conference.

Special Agents are stationed overseas in Bangkok Thailand and the OLE overseas Endangered Species from Maine to halfway around the world to the Federated States of Micronesia. Within six weeks of being appointed as the Chief, in May 2001 Woody went on a to boondoggle to Hawaii following in the footsteps of his father, looking for marine turtles. Woody’s bags are always packed. Traveling internationally in business class days on end eats up precious operational OLE funds.

Woody comes off as self-promoting and disingenuous, rather than making sure that American taxpayers tax dollars are invested wisely. Woody’s actions reinforce negative stereotypes many Americans hold of federal employees as overpaid, underworked spendthrifts and poor stewards of taxpayer dollars. Woody intends to hire his BLM cronies who have communications/administration degrees as OLE vacancies occur.

Woody’s deficiencies as director of law enforcement are mentioned. In reaction to a decline in OLE prosecutions, Woody directed agents to be overly aggressive (pg 16):

In order to understand Woody’s lack of law enforcement acumen and to ascertain the type of OLE Chief will be, one merely needs to look at his track record as the Chief Bureau of Land Management/OLE. Woody always follows the rubric of going to the press until the guilty are convicted in court.

Rather, Woody should be counseling his OLE Special Agents to obey the law. Why it is appropriate for many OLE Special Agents to not be paying nanny taxes for the individuals who are cleaning their houses, their yards or overseeing they children?

Woody is clearly aware from the aforementioned 2007 DOI-OIG report that prosecutions within the OLE have taken a precipitous decline so Woody has given his troops marching orders to be overly aggressive, assertive and to seek the limelight.

Woody was involved in at least three harrowing cases of federal overreach (pg 16):

Woody’s actions in three below enumerated investigations (Investigation of Christopher Kortlander dba the Custer Battlefield Museum, Inc. Operation Ceberus Action and the investigation of the Henry Juszkiewicz dba Gibson Guitar Company) has drawn the ire of United States Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and countless other politicians and the public alike. Woody has overly zealously attempted to enforce the Lacey Act by enforcing the letter of the law as opposed to the spirit of the law. Woody actions in the aforementioned law enforcement investigations reflects a certain disregard for the established rules of conservation law enforcement.

Operation Cerberus Action (pp 20-21):

Woody initially hired Special Agent Dan Love sometime in 2005. Even though Love was an inexperienced field agent Woody hand picked and assigned Love as the lead case agent on the joint undercover investigation (code-named Ceberus Action) conduced [sic] by the Bureau of Land Management and the FBI. Even though Larry Shackelford was the Special Agent in Charge for the State of Utah (Utah State Office), Woody supervised Dove from Washington D.C.

On June 10, 2009, the case became public when 24 indictments were unsealed. Woody was present when the indictments were announced in Salt Lake City by Secretary Salazar; Assistant Secretary Echo Hawk; Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden of the U.S. Department of Justice: Brett L. Tolman, U.S Attorney in Utah: and Timothy J. Fuhrman, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Office.

Woody failed to tell the assembled officials and the press that he was aware that Shackelford was having an affair with Gardiner’s girlfriend…

…Love’s investigation focused merely on the braggadocios of the defendants and the sale of artifacts whose archeological provenance could not be established. Woody also failed to disclose that the Bureau of Land Management was aware of Gardiner’s history of mental issues, substance abuse problems and emotional issues arising from a recent divorce and newly failed relationship with another woman.

Woody named Dan Love BLM Special Agent of the Year, then, in the wake of Operation Cerberus, which mysteriously lead to zero evidence of an ‘illegal international antiquities trading network’ and zero convictions, promoted Love to top BLM cop in Utah (pg 22):

In 2009 Woody, ever the showman, scam artist and entertainer named Love BLM Special Agent of the Year, before even one individual was convicted. Woody subsequently promoted Love to the position of Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Utah State Office.

The costly 5-year artifacts case netted no prison time and three suicides. Defendant Dr. James Redd (Blanding, UT – age 60) killed himself on June 11, 2009. A week later, Steven L. Shrader (Santa Fe, NM – age 56) committed suicide. Gardiner the informant (Holladay, UT – age 52) committed suicide on March 2, 2010.

Woody led the politically-motivated raid on the Gibson Guitar Company (pp 22-23):

FWS-OLE Investigation of the Gibson Guitar Company: Woody is carrying over the same overzealous management style from the BLM to the OLE. Under Woody’s approach, BLM and OLE Special Agents have labored to justify their next promotion and the next and the next. Woody has energized his employees to pursue high profile vandals with more confidence and with the expectations that said employees are expected to produce results. Although Woody is hoping to garner favorable publicity by initiating high profile investigations by any means; whether through overzealousness or by using unethical employees who have integrity issues or employees who are carrying out sexual relationships with informants or other individuals on the periphery of an investigation – history has shown that Woody has failed miserably…

In a spectacular show of force, Woody directed case agents John Rayfield, Tim Santel and Hubbard to have the Special Agents who executed the search warrants to brandish high powered long guns, wear bullet proof vests and to intimidate and coerce the workforce in order elicit statements in prosecuting Henry Juszkiewicz and the Gibson Guitar Company…

William C. Woody, loose cannon (pg 23):

Woody initiated this investigation because neither the Secretary of Interior nor Congress failed to sanction him when as the BLM Chief he used the same tactics to frivolously squander tax payer monies and withheld exculpatory information from court/defendants in Operation Christopher Kortlander dba the Custer Battlefield Museum, Inc. and Operation Ceberus Action. Woody’s malice, his methods, his star-chamber practices and his decision to punish first and adjudicate later all are at odds with law enforcements [sic] ideals of fairness and fair play.

Many in the West will find the reappointment of William C. Woody as the head of BLM Law Enforcement beyond troubling. Explosive headlines describing corruption and criminality within virtually all federal agencies having a strong presence in the West have nearly destroyed public trust in the BLM, FWS, Forest Service, National Parks Service and others. With a history of arrogance and malfeasance rivaled only by that of Dan Love, the appointment of Woody, under the purview of Interior Secretary Zinke, is completely contrary to the Administration’s pledge to ‘drain the swamp.’

View the leaked document below:

Leaked Doc: FWS Law Enforcement Abuses Under William C. Woody