July 25, 2000 Washington, D.C.- The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law will hold a hearing this Thursday on legislation authored by U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant, Jr. (D-OH) to establish an independent federal agency to investigate allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Justice Department personnel. THE HEARING WILL BE HELD ON THURSDAY, JULY 27TH AT 10 A.M. IN ROOM 2141 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING. Traficant will be the lead witness. Other witnesses will include Joseph Occhipinti, executive director of the National Police Defense Foundation; Michael Shaheen, senior counselor for the Internal Revenue Service and former head of the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility; and witnesses from the Justice Department and academia. "Numerous incidents over the past several years have made it painfully clear that the Justice Department cannot effectively police itself," said Traficant. "The American people expect the Justice Department - more than any other federal agency - to be beyond reproach when it comes to ethics and responsible behavior," asserted Traficant. Traficant's bill, the Fair Justice Act, establishes a new federal agency responsible for investigating and prosecuting alleged misconduct, criminal activity, corruption, or fraud by Justice Department employees. The director of the Fair Justice Agency (FJA) would be appointed by the President to a ten-year term subject to confirmation by the Senate. The director may be dismissed by the President only for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office. Should the President dismiss the director, the bill requires the President to submit a report to Congress within five days detailing the reasons for the dismissal. The bill gives the FJA the same prosecutorial and investigative authority as Justice Department attorneys, agents and investigators. Most important, the bill allows the agency to prosecute cases in federal court. Employees of the new agency would be compensated in the same manner as other Executive Branch employees, and the agency would have the same administrative powers and authorities as other federal agencies. The Traficant bill authorizes $10 million for the agency in fiscal year 2001, $15 million in 2002 and $20 million in 2003. For the past three Congresses, including this one, Traficant has authored legislation requiring the appointment of an independent counsel any time there is credible evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Justice Department employees. Last year Congress allowed the Independent Counsel statute to expire, and Traficant determined several months ago that there was little support or enthusiasm in Congress to revive the independent counsel model. "The establishment of a small, independent agency with a limited budget is the most realistic way of dealing with the problem of the Justice Department investigating itself" noted Traficant. "Independent counsels do not have a good track record when it comes to being frugal with taxpayer dollars and conducting limited investigations. Because the bill gives the FJA a limited budget, there is no danger that the new agency will engage in an endless series of unwarranted and expensive witch hunts," noted Traficant. "What will happen is that the most serious and credible allegations of DOJ wrongdoing or criminal behavior will be objectively and appropriately investigated and acted on." Traficant was prompted to introduce the legislation after years of analyzing cases of Justice Department misconduct that were not properly investigated by the Justice Department. For example: In 1992 federal agents in Ruby Ridge, Idaho fatally shot a 14-year-old boy in the back, and shot and killed an unarmed woman while she held her infant child in her arms. Although several DOJ officials were disciplined and DOJ paid more than $3 million to the family, DOJ did not file any criminal charges against the agents responsible for this tragedy. A 1990 Congressional inquiry which uncovered the fact that no disciplinary action was taken on 10 cases investigated by DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility in which federal judges had made written findings of prosecutorial misconduct. In 1993, three federal judges in Chicago reversed the convictions of 13 members of the El Rukn street gang on conspiracy and racketeering charges after learning that assistant U.S. attorneys had given informants alcohol, drugs and sex in federal offices, and had knowingly used perjured testimony. No criminal charges have ever been made against the federal prosecutors nor has DOJ taken any meaningful disciplinary action, other than firing one U.S. attorney. The Justice Department never investigated evidence first brought out in a 1983, that past and current FBI agents working in the Youngstown area accepted bribes from organized crime leaders. In December 1996 a federal judge ruled that the FBI unfairly prosecuted a private investigator because the investigator had questioned the FBI's findings relative to the December 1988 crash of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The investigator was acquitted by a jury after less than an hour of deliberation. The Justice Department took no action against the agents involved and never conducted an investigation to determine whether or not the department's prosecution of the investigator was politically motivated.