A former FBI agent sentenced to two years in prison Friday for plotting to kill his wife and the current head of the Dallas FBI office used to be a good agent, a former Dallas FBI boss told a judge.
Guadalupe Gonzalez, who ran the Dallas FBI office from 2002 to 2006, called Carlos Ortiz Jr. a “valuable asset” to the bureau when he supervised him.
“He went through some issues,” Gonzalez told U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater at Ortiz’s sentencing hearing Friday. “We all have issues.”
Ortiz, 49, was arrested in August on charges of trying to acquire a .50-caliber rifle in order to assassinate Dallas Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Casey Jr. Casey had suspended Ortiz months earlier on suspicion of domestic violence toward his estranged wife, a bureau analyst.
In his 21-year career in the FBI, Ortiz was involved in armed standoffs twice — in 1992 and 2004. Former Dallas FBI boss Oliver “Buck” Revell recommended that Ortiz be fired after the 1992 incident but was overruled by his superiors in Washington. The second standoff occurred under Gonzalez, who allowed Ortiz to keep his job. Casey succeeded Gonzalez in 2006.
After Gonzalez finished his defense of Ortiz, federal prosecutor Chad Meacham asked permission to question Gonzalez about why he didn’t fire Ortiz after the 2004 incident. Fitzwater pointed out that Gonzalez was not testifying under oath, so cross-examination would not be proper.
But later, when Meacham argued to Fitzwater that Ortiz should be given the maximum 10-year sentence, he revisited the issue of whether Gonzalez should have fired Ortiz in 2004.
“How many other employees has Gonzalez had with almost three decades of erratic behavior?” Meacham told the judge. “It’s a dark day for law enforcement.”
Gonzalez, who described Ortiz as a friend, declined to answer questions after the hearing.
Casey was in Washington, D.C., on Friday and did not attend.
In the year before his arrest, authorities say, Ortiz was broke and applying for food stamps. Despite a $140,000 annual salary, his finances had been drained by a costly divorce and custody battle over his young son. He was also abusing his anti-anxiety medication. In August, he began telling friends that Casey was in an “illicit relationship” with his estranged wife, a contention the FBI denies.
Ortiz asked one of his friends, a former law enforcement officer and a licensed firearms dealer, if he could get him a .50-caliber gun, capable of shooting a mile. That friend called the FBI, which had him record subsequent threats by Ortiz.
“Yeah, I’m definitely gonna [expletive] on his grave,” Ortiz said of Casey. “I might just put a .308 down his [expletive] …”
After Ortiz was arrested, agents searched the Red Oak home he shared with his father. They found more than three dozen weapons, including a .22-caliber rifle with a silencer and two .308-caliber rifles.
They also found an envelope meant for his father marked, “DAD TAKE TO THE PRESS.”
“Mr. Casey has broken me as a man and human being, with his constant threats and follow through terminating me leaving with no way to sustain my son,” a statement inside the envelope bearing Ortiz’s signature read. “Mr. Casey never listened to me and has left me no options.”
Fitzwater said Ortiz’s writings were significant. “This suggests that he did not think he would be alive to take it to the press himself,” the judge said. “We who are given much power are held to a high standard.”
Earlier in the hearing, a longtime friend of Ortiz told the judge that his buddy was merely “venting” about Casey.
“He never intended to hurt anyone,” said retired Army Staff Sgt. Edwin Garcia Casiano, who grew up with Ortiz in Puerto Rico. “He was taking a lot of medication that made him say the wrong things.”
Meacham rejected that argument. “He always blames the medication,” he said.
Colleen Dunbar, Ortiz’s attorney, said the two-year sentence is “what we expected,” adding that her client will get credit for the seven months he has been in custody. “He’s very sorry for what happened. Life goes on. It could have been a lot worse.”
Meacham said that the investigation of the ex-agent had a “demoralizing effect” on the entire Dallas FBI office and that the actions of Ortiz were a stain on federal agents everywhere.
“He’s gone from being the best the United States government has to offer, to the worst,” Meacham said.
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