WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is pressing FBI Director Robert Mueller for information about taxpayer dollars possibly being spent on prostitutes for an FBI agent and several cooperating witnesses in the Philippines.
Grassley’s questions come after a motion outlining the allegations was filed in a California federal district court. The motion alleges that an undercover agent “invited [the cooperating individuals] to . . . brothels in and around Manila in order to reward them for their efforts and encourage them to continue looking for weapons. [The undercover agent] ordered prostitutes, and paid for himself and others to have sex with the prostitutes.” The motion also provides correspondence from the Justice Department which confirms that the undercover FBI agent made reimbursement requests totaling $14,500 in expenses incurred by the undercover agent at clubs in the Philippines. In addition, the motion claims that many of the prostitutes at one of the brothels the FBI agent frequented were likely minors.
Grassley said that U.S. federal law enforcement personnel must be beyond reproach and that this type of behavior cannot be condoned by FBI leadership. Grassley has requested the FBI to provide responses to questions, a briefing and documents by October 10, 2012, regarding this situation.
The text of the letter to Mueller is below. A signed copy of the letter can be found here.
September 27, 2012
Via Electronic Transmission
The Honorable Robert S. Mueller, III
Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Department of Justice
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20535
Dear Director Mueller:
Recently, I became aware of disturbing allegations regarding an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent in the Philippines. A motion filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California last week alleges that the undercover FBI agent spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on prostitutes in the Philippines for himself and three other individuals cooperating with the FBI.1 If true, this story raises serious questions about the behavior of this agent and the FBI’s knowledge of this matter.
The motion alleges that the undercover agent and another FBI agent, both based out of West Covina, California, were in the Philippines as part of a weapons-trafficking investigation. The undercover agent was reportedly posing as a weapons broker for Mexican drug cartels.2 According to the motion: “On several occasions, the undercover agent invited [the cooperating individuals] to . . . brothels in and around Manila in order to reward them for their efforts and encourage them to continue looking for weapons. [The undercover agent] ordered prostitutes, and paid for himself and others to have sex with the prostitutes.”3 It is unclear whether the second FBI agent was ever also present.
The motion attaches a declaration from a federal public defender investigator, who traveled to the Philippines in May 2012 to interview witnesses.4 The motion also provides correspondence from Justice Department trial attorneys dated August 23, 2012, which confirms that the undercover FBI agent did indeed make “several requests for reimbursement . . . for the time period November 15, 2010 to September 27, 2011 that may relate to expenses incurred by the undercover agent at clubs in the Philippines” when the three individuals cooperating with the FBI were present.5 The requested reimbursements total $14,500. The Justice Department’s correspondence is attached to this letter.
The motion claims that many of the prostitutes at one of the brothels the FBI agent frequented were likely minors. It attaches documentation that on May 5, 2012, the Philippine government raided the brothel and rescued 60 victims of human trafficking, 20 of whom were minors.6 The aforementioned letter from Justice Department trial attorneys acknowledges that the undercover FBI agent submitted a request for reimbursement based on expenses at the brothel on September 26 and 27, 2011.7 The motion also identifies at least four other dates on which discovery produced by the government indicates the FBI agent visited the brothel.8
In light of this information, I ask that you provide a briefing to my staff on this issue as soon as possible. I also request that you come prepared to answer the following questions:
1) Of the $14,500 requested by the undercover agent for reimbursement, how much was the agent actually reimbursed by the FBI?
2) Was the undercover FBI agent the case agent for this weapons-trafficking investigation? If not, did the case agent authorize the expenses at the brothels in this undercover operation?
3) Did any other U.S. law enforcement or embassy personnel visit these brothels with the undercover FBI agent? Please list each agency, the number of employees involved, each individual’s role, and whether they were a recipient of the services for which reimbursement was requested of the FBI.
4) Was any of the activity for which reimbursement was requested recorded by wire or video surveillance? If so, which activity? Please provide all recordings.
5) What other U.S. law enforcement or embassy personnel participated in the Philippines in the overall weapons-trafficking investigation? Please list each agency, the number of employees involved, and their role.
6) Was the first-line supervisor of the undercover FBI agent and/or case agent aware of the undercover agent’s visits to brothels? What other supervisors were informed?
7) When and how did FBI headquarters become aware of these allegations against this FBI agent working in the Philippines?
8) What actions were taken by FBI headquarters to investigate these allegations?
9) Has discipline been proposed for any FBI employees (agents or other personnel) in connection with this? If so, please describe the circumstances and procedural standing of the proposed discipline.
10) When did FBI supervisors become aware that minors may have been involved at these brothels?
11) Did the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) running the undercover operation receive notification of and/or authorize the undercover activity at the brothels?
12) Was the USAO running the undercover operation provided notes or other materials (e.g. 302’s) regarding the events in question? If so, please provide these documents.
13) Is the FBI aware of any other instances of similar behavior occurring by other agents stationed around the world? If so, please describe them.
14) How many FBI employees (agents or other personnel) have been disciplined in the last eight years, including those terminated or voluntarily separated from the FBI, for soliciting, hiring, procuring the services of, or other inappropriate behavior involving prostitutes? Include all instances in which the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) reviewed allegations that FBI agents were involved with prostitutes, including a detailed summary of the allegations, the findings of investigation, the pay grade and rank of the employee, the proposed punishment (administrative or otherwise), the location where the incident(s) occurred, and whether the employee is still employed by the FBI.
15) How many FBI employees (agents or other personnel) have been terminated by the FBI following an investigation or allegations of inappropriate involvement with prostitutes?
16) How many FBI employees (agents or other personnel) remain employed by the FBI following an investigation or allegations of inappropriate involvement with prostitutes?
Finally, please also provide the following documents:
17) Any case notes or briefing plan regarding the undercover activity, including how the undercover activity was monitored or details on surveillance by agents in the brothels.
18) All emails pertaining to FBI becoming aware of any of the above allegations.
19) All emails demonstrating the FBI’s response to the above allegations.
Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter. I would appreciate receiving your response to this matter by October 10, 2012. Should you have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact my staff at (202) 224-5225.
Charles E. Grassley
cc: The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
The Honorable Michael E. Horowitz
U.S. Department of Justice
1. Motion to Dismiss Indictment Because of Outrageous Government Conduct, United States v. Syjuco, Case No. CR 12-37-RGK (C.D. Cal., Sept. 17, 2012).
2. Id. at 4.
3. Id. at 10-11.
4. Id. at 50-55 (Declaration of Richard Goff (Sept. 14, 2012)).
5. Id. at 114-115 (Letter on behalf of Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer to John Littrell, et al. (Aug. 23, 2012), at 1) (Attachment 1).
6. Id. at 116-127, Exhibit F (Recommendation for Prosecution, National Bureau of Investigation, Republic of the Philippines (May 7, 2012)).
7. Id. at 113-115, Exhibit E (Letter on behalf of Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer to John Littrell, et al. (Aug. 23, 2012), at 1).
8. Id. at 11. The dates are October 5, 2010; November 16, 2010; February 22, 2011; and September 23, 2011.