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Former DEA Agent Gets 15 Years

October 22, 1999

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ A former Drug Enforcement Administration agent was given the maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for shooting his partner while he in a drunken stupor.

Richard Fekete, 57, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the shooting of his partner, Shaun Curl, was also sentenced to 15 years probation, random drug testing and counseling. He must write a letter every year on the anniversary of Curl’s death, explaining what happened, and apologizing to Curl’s family and friends.

Circuit Judge Paul Backman blamed Fekete’s friends and colleagues for failing to take appropriate action to prevent the tragedy on Dec. 12, 1997.

``If it wasn’t Shaun, it would’ve been somebody else. Mr. Fekete was a time bomb waiting to explode,″ Backman said. ``It’s a travesty that the friends of Mr. Fekete, both within the agency and outside the agency, never stepped in to stop him.″

An undercover DEA agent testified that Fekete had got drunk at a Metro-Dade Police Christmas party and had to be helped to the car. Curl, 39, was driving Fekete to his home when Fekete pulled his gun and shot him several times in the head and chest.

A psychologist, a psychiatrist and a neuro-psychologist testified that Fekete was having an alcohol-induced psychotic episode.

Neuro-psychologist Dr. Jorge Herrera testified that in 1993, Fekete suffered brain damage when he fell and hit the back of his head on a metal deck. He was advised not to drink, because alcohol combined with a brain injury can trigger violent behavior.

In 1987 Fekete killed a knife-wielding man at a bar in Philadelphia. He was working undercover at the time and had been drinking for four hours.

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