WASHINGTON -- Shocked at the accusation that an Atlanta FBI agent killed a pedestrian while driving under the influence of alcohol, FBI Director Louis J. Freeh has issued new rules cracking down on alcohol-related incidents, it was learned yesterday.
Mr. Freeh, in a recent interview, said he was "disturbed" to find the FBI had no consistent policy for handling drunken driving and related conduct in its ranks.
The punishments for 24 cases he reviewed from the past three years varied so widely that it was as if 24 different people in the FBI handled the cases, Mr. Freeh said, "and yet they were all adjudicated by the same unit here."
"I believe the FBI is obligated to take severe administrative action for alcohol-related misconduct," Mr. Freeh said in a message Monday to all special agents in charge of the FBI's 56 field offices and the 22 FBI legal attaches in U.S. embassies around the world.
The case that prompted Mr. Freeh, who has been the director for one year, to review the bureau's handling of alcohol-related incidents involved FBI agent Danny A. Scott, who was charged Aug. 5 with first-degree vehicular homicide and driving under the influence in an accident that left a 27-year-old man dead. He also was accused of leaving the scene of an accident and obstruction of a police officer.
In 1992, Mr. Scott, 50, pleaded no contest to a driving-under-the-influence charge in the same Cobb County, Ga., area where the latest incident took place. His driver's license was returned to him after he underwent in- and out-patient treatment and completed court-ordered DUI offender courses, according to court documents cited by the Atlanta Constitution.
But shortly after midnight Aug. 5, police say, Mr. Scott struck Bruce Everett Watson Jr. with his car. Although Mr. Scott was driving an FBI car equipped with a radio and a cellular phone, police say he drove to his home a few blocks from the accident and called 911 from there, telling the operator that he "possibly hit something or somebody."
Cobb County police found Mr. Watson's body at the side of the road and attempted to question Mr. Scott at his house. Cobb County police said he refused to cooperate, would not submit to any DUI tests and struggled with officers. Mr. Scott is free on $25,000 bail.
Under the new rules, first offenders, whether convicted in court or as the result of an FBI administrative inquiry, will be suspended without pay for at least 30 days. Immediately following arrest or an administrative finding, the employee will be barred from driving a government car. The car prohibition will be extended at least a year following determination of guilt in most cases, and will not be affected by a reduction of the motor vehicle offense through plea bargaining, judicial review, or the employee's entering a diversion or substance abuse program.
FBI agents or employees found guilty a second time of driving under the influence or while intoxicated will be fired unless there are "compelling mitigating circumstances."