A paralegal in San Diego became the FBI’s latest disgraced employee Wednesday when she pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $160,000 from the Asset Forfeiture Unit in recent years.
Lynn M. Morris, a 51-year-old paralegal specialist, admitted to U.S. District Court Judge Larry Alan Burns that she stole $159,821.90 from an account for the FBI San Diego Division’s Asset Forfeiture Unit between July 2014 and November 2016.
San Diego FBI Paralegal Specialist Pleads Guilty to Theft of Nearly $160,000 in Government Funds https://t.co/fLGYl7K2J0
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) March 7, 2018
According to the Justice Department:
From 2014 to 2016, Morris was a paralegal specialist and the designated coordinator for the AFU. Morris admitted that to convert government funds to her own use, she used her knowledge and position within the FBI to withdraw cash from the AFU’s account and deposited portions of the stolen proceeds into her personal checking account.
Morris faces a June 4 sentencing. And while she isn’t a high-level agent, her case is one example of the toxic culture at an agency that’s recently courted much-deserved scrutiny from lawmakers, the public, and President Trump.
The FBI was forced to fire investigator Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page after anti-Trump text messages between the two became public last fall. The two were having an extramarital affair while working on the alleged investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
The department also admittedly bungled a tip about Nikolas Cruz, who recently killed 17 people at Marjorie Douglas Stoneman High School, in Parkland, Florida. The FBI admitted Wednesday that its call taker “did not ask any standard investigative probing questions” about a threat Cruz made in a YouTube comment. The employee was able to connect the comment to Cruz, but decided to forget about it after consulting with a supervisor, according to the Associated Press.
FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said that “despite multiple opportunities, the FBI did not share information with state and local authorities” about Cruz’s threat.
Also this week, The Electronic Frontier Foundation revealed the FBI paid Best Buy Geek Squad employees as informants to look through customers’ computers for questionable material.
“The documents show a range of interactions: a $500 payment from the FBI to a Geek Squad employee, a meeting of the agency’s Cyber Working Group at Best Buy’s computer repair facility in Kentucky, and a number of investigations in which Geek Squad employees called the FBI field office in Louisville after finding suspected child pornography,” NPR reports.
A federal judge in California was forced to throw out almost all evidence against alleged child pornographer and physician Mark Rettenmaier because of the FBI’s shady practices, which ultimately forced the government to drop its charges against Rettenmaier.
Trump has repeatedly criticized the FBI for a lot of things, from its “witch hunt” into alleged collusion to apparent reluctance to investigate corrupt Democrats.
Last month, Trump chastised the FBI for bungling its role in Florida, and urged its leaders to get with the program.
Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,” Trump tweeted. “They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”
A lot of folks on Twitter seem to share is perspective.
“It seems to cockroaches have been pouring out of the cracks lately,” Linda posted. “Keep shining the light.”
“The FBI seems to be in crisis,” Konstantine James added. “Who’s vetting these people?”