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FBI Agents Say Bureau Harassed Hispanic Whistle-Blowers

November 4, 1988

EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ The FBI agent who began a successful class-action discrimination lawsuit against the bureau says he and other Hispanic agents have since been harassed, and they are asking a judge to bar such retaliation.

A 32-page document filed Thursday in U.S. District Judge Lucius Bunton’s court contains affidavits from three Hispanic agents who contend they have been singled out and treated unfairly since Bunton ruled Sept. 30 that the FBI discriminates against Hispanics in promotions and job conditions.

FBI spokesman Gregory Jones in Washington denied the allegations, saying ″any intimidation or retaliation would be illegal and intolerable, and would result in an FBI inquiry.″

Bernardo ″Matt″ Perez, who initiated the class-action lawsuit in January 1987, contended in his affidavit that many of his duties as No. 2 man in the El Paso office have been taken away, and that his boss has intimidated another agent for talking to reporters about the case.

An agent in Miami, Fernando Mata, said in his affidavit that he needs psychiatric care for a traumatic stint as an undercover foreign counterintelligence agent, but that the bureau has refused to grant security clearance to a psychiatrist outside the FBI.

Mata, who received the FBI’s highest award in 1983 for his overseas work, said he prefers to see a psychiatrist who doesn’t work for the bureau.

James Garay, an Albuquerque agent, contended in his affidavit that his gun and car were stripped from him under the pretext of a medical condition. He said the bureau claimed he was too badly injured in an on-the-job car accident.

The three agents who submitted the affidavits testified in the two-week, non-jury trial before Bunton in August.

The 311 Latino agents who joined the suit successfully argued that the FBI assigned them less desirable jobs, promoted them too slowly and didn’t give them the recognition they deserved for their successes.

Bunton will rule on damages in future hearings. He implied in his Sept. 30 decision that monetary damages might be small or non-existent, and that he might order the FBI to change the way it operates.

In his affidavit, Perez contended that since the verdict was announced, ″I have been purposely divorced from many of the administrative operations of the office, and from my day-to-day management responsibilities.″

Perez’ boss, agent-in-charge Richard Schwein, said the allegation is ″not true.″

″He carries out the day-to-day operations in this office, and everyone in this office reports to him except me,″ Schwein said Thursday.

Schwein said he saw a TV interview of one Hispanic agent in El Paso on the night of the decision, and that he talked to the man about it later.

″I said, ’Hey, pal, you didn’t say you were speaking as a citizen and not as a special agent of the FBI,‴ Schwein said.

He added that he dropped the matter when the agent explained that such a comment had been edited out.

Schwein said he feels more hurt than angry about Perez’ allegations.

″I resent having my integrity challenged,″ he said. ″I don’t like falsehoods and I consider these falsehoods. I’ve had no one walk in the door and say, ‘Boss, you’re retaliating against me.’ This (affidavit) was a stunning shock to me.″

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