Report: Prosecutors appropriately dropped cases
RENO — The U.S. attorney general’s office has concluded federal prosecutors in Reno generally acted appropriately when they declined to prosecute a number of cases submitted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
However, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik also found that a small number of those cases should have received additional investigation before the U.S. attorney’s office in Nevada dropped them, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and others have been pressing the attorney general to find out if cases dating to 2009 were declined because of a rift between prosecutors and ATF agents.
Kadzik acknowledged in a letter Wednesday to Grassley, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., that there may have been issues at one time, but’s he’s confident the agencies are now cooperating.
Amodei’s spokesman Brian Baluta said the letter was being reviewed and follow-up questions prepared.
The three Congress members expressed their concerns to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in October after the Gazette-Journal reported ATF agents had transferred out of Nevada.
The newspaper cited at least a dozen cases that had been dismissed after Assistant U.S. Attorney Sue Fahami told agents in a Sept. 29, 2011, letter that her office would not take their cases until unspecified issues were resolved.
Kadzik said Wednesday that the attorney general’s office last December directed a senior federal prosecutor and an ATF supervisory special agent from outside Nevada to review the firearms cases that had been declined by Fahami’s office from February 2009 to October 2011.
“After completing this review, it was determined that the majority of cases were appropriately declined” and some of the cases needed more work, Kadzik said. “The USAO and ATF worked together to determine the appropriate next steps in each case.”
He withheld further comment because some of the matters had been referred to local law enforcement authorities.
Natalie Collins, spokeswoman for the Nevada U.S. Attorney’s office, said her office had no immediate comment.
At least one of the cases was picked up by the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office, with a suspect being charged with a firearms violation and trial set for June 17.
The Reno ATF office is now composed of two permanent and one temporary special agents.