FBI Agent Charged With Stealing And Selling Heroin From Evidence Room
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ An FBI special agent assigned to a squad that arrested drug dealers was charged Friday with stealing about 100 pounds of heroin from his bureau’s evidence room and trying to sell it.
Kenneth R. Withers, 33, a seven-year veteran, was arrested at his office and sent to federal prison without bail Friday, authorities said.
″It’s very difficult for us to arrest one of our own agents,″ said Bob Reutter, special agent in charge for the FBI’s Philadelphia office. ″It’s very painful for me and the FBI family.″
Withers, of Medford, N.J., was arrested after a two-month investigation into a mysterious supplier named ″Salvatore.″ The supplier contacted dealers through the mail and offered to front them large quantities of heroin in return for money to be mailed to postal boxes.
Withers turned out to be the supplier, and the drugs for sale were stolen from the bureau, authorities said. Withers asked dealers for $75,000 per kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, the FBI said.
Experts identified Withers’ handwriting on application forms for the post office boxes and found his fingerprints on FBI documents relating to its investigation.
Withers stole the heroin, confiscated more than a year ago, between January and March, and replaced the missing evidence with sodium bicarbonate, Reutter said.
Withers’ letters to dealers even contained one-ounce free samples of one batch seized from a Pakistani dealer, authorities said.
The agency intercepted one mailed shipment and discovered it matched the drug confiscated from the Pakistani dealer, the FBI said.
Reutter could not say how much drugs were sold. However, he said the FBI recovered much of the missing heroin in the basement of the home of one of Withers’ relatives near Louisville, Ky. He would not elaborate.
Withers faces a mandatory 10-year prison term and a maximum life term if convicted of distribution and conspiracy charges.