Freeh Suspends Top FBI Agent in New York City
WASHINGTON (AP) _ FBI Director Louis Freeh suspended the top FBI agent in New York City for talking in a television interview about the World Trade Center bombing while the trial is going on, the bureau said today.
James Fox, the assistant director in charge of the New York office, was suspended Dec. 10 for comments made on the Dec. 4 broadcast, an FBI official said today, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Fox became an agent in 1962 and has headed the New York office for six years. He was previously scheduled to retire Jan. 3, the FBI said.
″Director Freeh made the decision to place Assistant Director Fox on administrative leave with pay until his retirement in January,″ FBI spokesman John Collingwood said, reading an official bureau statement.
″He did so after carefully reviewing inappropriate public comments Fox made about pending prosecution,″ he said, adding that he was ″not at liberty to say″ how Freeh became aware of Fox’s comments.
The suspension was reported first by New York Newsday in today’s editions.
″Our policy is not to talk about pending cases, particularly when it’s still at trial,″ said the FBI official.
In the broadcast interview, Fox responded to a question about reports that FBI informant Emad Salem gave the FBI information prior to the World Trade Center bombing on Feb. 26.
″He (Salem) gave us nothing. No one gave us anything,″ Fox was quoted by Newsday as saying. ″If we had information, we would have prevented the bombing.″
Fox has overseen 2,200 workers in the New York FBI office. Along with the World Trade Center bombing case, he supervised agents who helped convict mob boss John Gotti and other gangsters.
During the investigation immediately following the bomb blast, Fox regularly briefed reporters on its progress. Fox plans to join the Mutual of America insurance company when he retires.
Although most FBI field offices are run by a special agent in charge, the heads of the New York and Washington metropolitan field offices are assistant directors of the FBI.