Criminal Justice

US Attorney in Reno Is Refusing ATF Cases; Is Task Force Rift the Reason?

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Reno, Nev., is refusing to prosecute cases generated by the local Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The Reno Gazette-Journal uncovered the rift in a months-long investigation. According to the newspaper, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sue Fahami, who runs the Reno office, told ATF agents in a September 2011 letter that no more cases would be accepted, at least until certain “issues” were resolved. The issues were not identified.

She also sent ATF agents a memo saying the ATF was on “probation” and agents would have to consult with federal prosecutors “prior to any proactive investigations.”

The office dismissed four ATF cases against defendants indicted on illegal weapons and drug charges, the story says. “The prosecutors turned away other cases involving violent criminals, allowing them to walk free and face no charges,” according to the newspaper.

Because of the disagreement, four out of six local ATF agents have transferred to other states.

The Gazette-Journal obtained an internal ATF document suggesting that the prosecutors stopped taking cases after local ATF agents refused to participate in a task force focusing on cases generated by local law enforcement.

Spokespersons for the U.S. Attorney’s office and the U.S. Justice Department declined to comment for a follow-up Gazette-Journal story. Washoe District Attorney Richard Gammick, who was on the task force, told the newspaper he didn’t have problems with the local ATF office, but he did have disputes with one agent there.

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