Suspended FBI agent alleges Justice Department misconduct in letter made public

Suspended FBI agent alleges Justice Department misconduct in letter made public

FOX 8 has obtained a copy of a letter sent by an FBI agent involved in the federal case against former St. Charles District Attorney Harry Morel, alleging "systemic corruption" in the U.S. attorney's office.

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - In the letter, FBI Agent Mike Zummer outlined steps that he hopes will end future alleged corruption.

Zummer sent the 31-page letter to Federal Judge Kurt Englehart on August 15, 2016, just days before the judge sentenced former St. Charles Parish District Attorney Harry Morel to three years in prison. The sentencing came after Morel pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice following a lengthy FBI investigation into allegations that Morel exchanged sex for leniency with dozens of women over his 30-year career.

"This case called out for justice, something wrong had been done and it had to be righted," said former U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite in June of 2016.

"This is a rare example of a dispute between the U.S. attorney's office, and an FBI agent," said Rafael Goyeneche with the Metropolitan Crime Commission.

According to the Associated Press, in September of last year, Zummer told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Morel allegedly received favorable treatment from the USAO because his defense attorney, Ralph Capitelli, and longtime Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Harper, were close friends and that the pair had co-owned a Gulf Coast condo.

"The condo wasn't hidden. Everyone knew we owned the condo together," said Capitelli.

Zummer's letter, presses on, saying "Based on what I have seen and heard, I believe that there is systemic corruption in the Justice Department. The FBI uncovers corruption and the Justice Department covers it back up again."

"The issue of the condo was resolved long before this ever came up, and Fred Harper never had anything to do with the case. The IG proved that," said Capitelli.

"The prudent thing would have been to recuse the office and have someone else step in. Had that been done, even with the same outcome, I don't know if the agent would have fired off the letter," Goyeneche said.

Agent Zummer also recommends that the Justice Department "Hire prosecutors nationally instead of locally, and force prosecutors to start out away from home," to avoid miconduct.

"With the history of public corruption cases and the success of this office over the years, that's an absurd comment," said Capitelli.

Zummer was suspended after he sent the letter. When asked about Zummer's status and the investigation, local FBI spokesman Craig Betbeze released this statement: "Per FBI policy, we do not comment on personnel matters. We have no further comment."

In his letter, agent Zummer said his purpose was to notify the court of alleged corruption in the ustice department, and the FBI's alleged effort to prevent disclosure of misconduct.

We reached out to the U.S. attorney's office for comment. They declined.

Copyright 2017 WVUE. All rights reserved.