The Treasury Department has outlined possible criminal actions by ATF officials involved in the failed Feb. 28 raid on Mount Carmel in a report to the Justice Department, spokesmen said Wednesday.
“Treasury’s Inspector General has presented a report on possible criminal actions taken by ATF individuals to the Department of Justice,” a Treasury Office of Enforcement spokesman in Washington, D.C., said Thursday.
John Russell, a spokesman for the Justice Department, confirmed that the department had received the report Wednesday. He would not comment further about the report or say if the Justice Department would pursue prosecution.
Five officials — Houston Division Deputy Chief Chuck Sarabyn, Houston Division Chief Phil Chojnacki, Associate Director of Law Enforcement Daniel M. Hartnett, Deputy Associate Director Edward D. Conroy and Chief of ATF Intelligence David C. Troy — were suspended after a scathing review released Sept. 30 called the failed raid “tragically wrong.”
Hartnett and Conroy quit days after the review was issued, saying they disagreed with it. Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen also on Sept. 30 replaced ATF director Stephen Higgins, who had announced his retirement just before the report was released.
The review found that the five suspended ATF officials intentionally misled the public about whether the agency knew it had lost the element of surprise in the raid.
It said that ATF officials lied to cover the raid’s failure, adding that Sarabyn and Chojnacki altered the raid plan after the Texas Rangers requested it for their investigation.
Bentsen said Sept. 30 that further action will probably be taken against some of the ATF officials suspended. He said the inspector general will determine whether the evidence merits referring the cases to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecutions.
An ATF spokesman called the report “very thorough,” but would not say if all five officials are named in it or if the report specifically referred anyone for possible criminal prosecution.
Russell said a Treasury Department referral wouldn’t necessarily mean the Justice Department would prosecute.
“We would have to determine what federal criminal laws were violated,” Russell said.
He added that he would not comment on what laws the officials could have possibly violated.
But one possible violation could be lying to a government agency.
According to federal law, it is a crime to knowingly and willfully falsify, conceal or cover up a fact or make a false statement pertaining to any issue within the jurisdiction of any U.S. government agency.