That person is ATF Special Agent (SA) Vincent Cefalu, a Marine Corps veteran and undercover operative with over 20 years of top-level experience. Cefalu was assigned as ATF’s Case Officer to a task force involving multiple local and federal law enforcement agencies in the northern California area. The group was investigating an alleged criminal enterprise involving a number of former Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputies, a California Highway Patrol officer, a former court bailiff and others who were suspected of, among other things, conspiring with members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) and other criminal elements to commit racketeering, robbery, extortion, trafficking in stolen motorcycles parts, distribution of illegal narcotics, perjury, etc.
During the investigation, Special Agent Cefalu eventually became aware that certain members of the task force seemed to have an inappropriate personal bias against the primary suspect, retired Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Holloway, owner of the Road Dog Motorcycle shop. It appeared to Cefalu that some of the Task Force members were intent on “nailing” Holloway and other suspects at virtually any cost. They also intended to obtain authorization to employ wiretaps to gather evidence against Holloway and other suspects.
Cefalu strongly opposed the use of wiretaps, mainly because the case did not meet the stringent statutory requirements for obtaining the required warrant and would have required that an ongoing undercover investigation would have had to be terminated. Due to the expense and significant progress of the UC operation, this would have clearly been interpreted as an attempt to circumvent the Federal requirements. The United States Attorney fully agreed, and clearly said so to the State and Local partners. Both he and SA Cefalu believed not only that a bogus wiretap application could compromise the integrity of the investigation and risk any resulting convictions, but that solid evidence could probably be obtained without resorting to questionable methods.
Acrimony between Cefalu and the others over the wiretap and other disagreements about the way the case was being handled escalated. Cefalu reported the unethical conduct to his ATF chain of command, which initially responded by threatening to withdraw ATF’s participation in the case. However, behind the scenes counter-complaints were made by some of the local law enforcement task force personnel to Cefalu’s bosses, to the effect that he was “not being a team player”. Although Cefalu’s ATF bosses told him in person that they “supported his position”, they eventually replaced him with a far less experienced agent solely for the management staff’s personal and political purposes, before ultimately ending ATF’s participation in the Task Force altogether.
Cefalu later learned that after ATF’s withdrawal, the FBI had become involved and was duped into obtaining the controversial wiretaps under false pretenses by local law enforcement officials, who remained even more obsessed with finding some way to make criminal case stick against former Sheriff's Deputy Bob Holloway.
Incensed by the Task Force’s improper conduct and his bosses’ failure to support him, Cefalu vehemently denounced the situation and implied that he might have to take it up the chain. In response, Cefalu’s bosses, Special Agent-in-Charge (SAC) Paul Vido, RAC Dennis Downs, and Assistant SAC Michael Gleysteen, threatened to have Cefalu transferred to a remote posting if he refused to “stand down”. A veteran of service in the Marine Corps and hundreds of dangerous undercover assignments, Cefalu refused to be intimidated, and the battle rapidly escalated.
Cefalu attempted to informally approach the SAC and was advised that he would be “fucked” if he did so. Cefalu therefore filed a formal grievance in accordance with ATF policy. His SAC responded that Cefalu had “jumped the chain of command and will be punished if you try it again.”
During this same period, Cefalu was scheduled to undergo surgery to repair a job-related injury. His ATF bosses started to seriously jack him around in terms of the treatment and rehab that they were required to support by law. Based a well-documented historical pattern of violations of the Rehab Act and discrimination and reprisal laws, Cefalu accordingly notified his chain of command that was filing an EEOC complaint. Within two day of that filing but 5 days before the EEOC Counselor met with Cefalu’s bosses, it was suddenly “determined” that SA Cefalu would be involuntarily transferred from the San Francisco Field Office to the Sacramento office “for closer supervisor and staffing needs”.
Months later when forced to answer questions about these actions under penalty of perjury, not one of ATF managers that were directly involved, could identify why Cefalu “needed closer supervision”, or what “staffing needs” his transfer was related to. When Cefalu challenged the transfer and demanded a PCS (Permanent Change of Station) paid move (as required by ATF policy), his managers responded by suspending him based on a “anonymous” allegations that eventually proved to be completely fabricated. Cefalu was then told that he was being involuntarily detailed to Houston for 6 to 12 months, and that “if he went along quietly”, the suspension would be rescinded. After Agent Cefalu called their bluff and flatly refused, both the suspension and transfer were later rescinded.
The same managers then attempted to fabricate a claim that Cefalu had “mental issues” and to force him to submit to a psyche evaluation. Unfortunately for them, both the ATF Employee Labor Relations Board (ELRB) and Chief Counsel concluded that there was absolutely no legitimate basis for such an action. The ELRB instead suggested that they order Cefalu be referred to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for “anger management” counseling. Once again, Cefalu refused to acknowledge this referral.
ATF management responded by ordering Cefalu to resubmit every scrap of medical documentation for the work injury he had sustained over 2 years previously, even though management had already received the entire file. Cefalu was told that if he failed to submit any of the already provided documentation within 72 hours, that he would be considered as AWOL during the scheduled surgery. Cefalu basically told his managers to “shove it up their asses” and had the surgery. Once again, the managers did not follow through with their threats and did nothing.
After Cefalu’s return to duty, he requested to complete his required firearms qualification using the FATs (simulator, rather than shooting at the traditional range), in accordance with ATF policy for agents on limited duty while recovering from injury. That request was fully supported in writing by Cefalu’s physician. Despite having approved such requests many times for other agents in the past, ATF management refused Cefalu’s request without citing any justifiable reason.
Cefalu was then required to undergo review of his temporary disability by a panel of four government doctors, who unanimously concluded that an additional surgical procedure was necessary to fully repair Cefalu’s injury. ATF responded by pulling Cefalu’s gun “because he had not qualified”.
Before Cefalu could schedule the second surgery (as recommended by 5 different physicians), he was served by SAC Steve Martin with a termination proposal for supposedly refusing to accept an involuntary transfer to an analyst position in Washington D.C. after 25 years of law enforcement and undercover service. He was also forced to pay for his second surgery with his own private insurance because ATF deliberately delayed the OWCP (Workman’s Comp) paperwork that was required in order for the government to pay for the procedure. In spite of all this, Cefalu underwent surgery and rehabilitation through the Christmas holidays. Throughout the process, SAC Martin made every possible attempt to terminate Cefalu’s leave and fast-track his transfer, but yet again when their bluff was called, management folded and Cefalu was fully reinstated.
Cefalu eventually retained private counsel and brought a number of formal complaints against the Bureau and its managers. Cefalu’s attorney eventually held depositions in which ATF management officials Dennis Downs, Mike Gleysteen, Paul Vido and Steve Martin were questioned under oath about their actions. They all made vague representations about non-specific complaints that were supposedly made about SA Cefalu by other members of the “Road Dog” up such claims. They also could not seem to explain why they gave Agent Cefalu an "Outstanding" midyear performance evaluation 10 days after they removed him as case agent from that task force, and less than one month before they initiated all the sudden transfer and psyche evaluation orders against him.
In fact, the entire affair was one big cesspool of corruption, illegal reprisal, fabrication and unlawful conspiracy by ATF management officials, almost certainly with the full knowledge and collusion of ATF HQ counsel and senior management. These sworn, badged federal law enforcement officials felt safe in acting in such a despicable and unlawful manner for a very simple and understandable reason. They arrogantly believed that none of their actions would ever be scrutinized outside of ATF’s internal administrative process, which is solely manipulated and controlled by their own Chief Counsel’s office (which blessed their actions in the first place!).
In short, these men were all quite confident at the time that they could get away with committing multiple acts of material, criminal perjury to cover their own improper conduct, with no adverse consequences whatsoever. They even bad-mouthed various state and local task force participants to muddy the waters even further, never dreaming that it could ever come back to haunt them. That smug confidence proved to be unwarranted.
About a year and a half after giving their utterly false depositions in the Cefalu civil case, their perjury was exposed during the highly publicized RICO trial on the charges that were eventually brought by the task force against “Road Dog” Defendant Bob Holloway and others.
To the horror of the involved managers and their bosses and legal advisers at ATF HQ, the bogus stories that they had concocted and attested to under oath in order to unfairly screw one of their own employees, were suddenly being directly refuted in open court by a number of credible witnesses, including a highly respected Chief of Police, several independent Special Agents and others.
It turns out that Cefalu’s ATF bosses had even gone so far as to fabricate a completely non-existent OpSec (Operational Security) “breach” in order to justify their reasoning for shutting down ATF’s participation in the Road Dog case and eventual treatment of Special Agent Cefalu. They had testified on the record before an Administrative Law judge that an ATF shipping sticker had been inadvertently left attached to a motorcycle used by ATF undercover agents in the Road Dog case. They casually claimed that one of the reasons they pulled ATF’s personnel (including Cefalu) off the investigation was because they could have been “burned” (their covers blown) by the OpSec breach.
Strangely, there is not a single scrap of documentation to indicate that this ever occurred, despite specific, mandatory Bureau polices that would require massive documentation and remedial action in response to any critical operational lapse of this type. After all, agents could easily be hurt or killed by such a stupid oversight.
In fact, nothing even remotely similar ever occurred. The ATF managers involved simply made it up out of thin air, confident in the knowledge that no one would ever be the wiser. Ooops! By making that false claim, the lying managers unfairly smeared the professional competence and reputations of not only the field agents involved with the case, but the ATF HQ experts who were directly responsible for ensure that such breaches do not ever occur. It turns out that those highly competent professionals found out that they had been wrongly maligned and were none too happy about it. They are so unhappy in fact, that they will very likely testify against the lying ATF bosses who threw them under the bus while lying under oath. And if that happens, some of those bosses are going to not only be out of the federal law enforcement business, but possibly wearing orange jumpsuits and shiny steel bracelets.
Eventually, ATF management slapped Cefalu with a proposed termination (firing) based on trumped up charges supposedly based on emails that had been in their possession for several years. With widespread media attention and ever accelerating and angry Congressional condemnation of their patently unlawful actions, even ATF knows by this point that they will never make this stick.
This case and its widespread aftermath are at this very moment in the process of completely imploding in upon ATF management. There is no question that ATF will ultimately pay an enormous settlement to the people they have sodomized in this and other similar cases of outrageous overtly criminal behavior. How much further hemorrhaging is the Bureau’s top management willing to stomach before they throw in the towel and pony up? That remains to be seen, but it is simply a matter of time (and they know it).
ATF CONDUCT AND DISCIPLINE POLICIES
OFFENSES & PENALTIES:
Conduct Prejudicial to the Government:
Includes criminal, infamous, dishonest, immoral, or notoriously disgraceful conduct, or other conduct prejudicial to the government. Examples include, but are not limited to: retaliation for filing EEO complaint, whistleblower complaint, grievances or any other protected activity.
Inappropriate behavior Includes, but not limited to, inappropriate actions directed toward co-workers, subordinates or supervisors. Also includes behavior (e.g., teasing, jokes, gestures, display of materials) of a sexual, sexual orientation, religious, racial, ethnicity, gender, age nature. Also includes intimidating, threatening, sexual and/or racially insensitive remarks.
- Admonishment to Removal
Failure to Timely Report Employee Misconduct. Includes failure to report employee misconduct.
- Admonishment to Removal
- 3-Day Suspension to Removal
- 7-Day Suspension to Removal
Authorizing, Directing, or Condoning Subordinate to Violate ATF/Government Policies. Includes failure to curtail inappropriate behavior of subordinates.
- Admonishment to Removal
- 3-Day Suspension to Removal
- 7-Day Suspension to Removal