Prosecutors Clear One FBI Agent in Ruby Ridge Probe
WASHINGTON (AP) _ One of six suspended FBI agents was cleared by federal prosecutors conducting a criminal investigation of the agents’ role in the deadly 1992 siege at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and its aftermath.
U.S. Attorney Michael R. Stiles of Philadelphia, who heads the investigation, advised the FBI that Anthony A. Betz is no longer considered either a target or a subject of the Ruby Ridge investigation, the FBI said Thursday.
The decision about Betz did not imply any conclusions about the other five agents, including former FBI Deputy Director Larry Potts, one senior official said, requesting anonymity. Resolution of their cases is not imminent, this official said.
At the time of standoff with white separatist Randy Weaver, Betz was a unit chief in the criminal investigative division at FBI headquarters. Betz had been suspended along with three other high-ranking FBI officials last Aug. 11 when the criminal investigation was opened.
The probe focused initially on whether headquarters officials had lied and destroyed documents to cover up the bureau’s actions during the siege. The investigators also have reviewed the conduct of agents at the scene, where an FBI sniper killed Weaver’s unarmed wife, Vicki. The sniper said he hit her accidentally while aiming at an armed friend of Weaver’s.
With approval from the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, an internal watchdog unit, the FBI lifted Betz’ suspension and returned him to his post at that time, assistant chief of the FBI’s Baltimore office.
Suspended with Betz and Potts, who supervised the siege from headquarters, were Danny O. Coulson, Potts’ deputy during the siege, and Gale Richard Evans, the violent crimes unit chief at headquarters then.
At least one of those four had admitted destroying FBI documents about the Ruby Ridge siege and at least one other had admitted knowing about such destruction, a Justice Department official said at the time of the suspensions. Potts made no such admission, the official said.
Suspended earlier was E. Michael Kahoe, who headed an early review team. He was suspended for lack of candor after he admitted destroying the bureau’s after-action analysis of the standoff, Justice officials said.
Last Oct. 24, a sixth agent, George Michael ``Mike″ Baird, was suspended. The allegations against Baird stemmed from his work as an inspector’s aide on a team that conducted an internal investigation of the incident in 1993-94.