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Report: FBI official used 'poor judgment' in suit

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former leader of the FBI's Milwaukee field office used "extremely poor judgment" in trying to influence the testimony of a subordinate in a disability discrimination lawsuit, according to a Justice Department inspector general report issued Wednesday. The report concerns a discrimination complaint brought two years ago by Justin Slaby, a Wisconsin native who lost his left hand in an Army training accident and argued in his lawsuit that the FBI wrongly kicked him out of its training academy because of his injury. An Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Slaby contended that he was qualified to serve despite his prosthesis. The inspector general report said Teresa Carlson, then the special agent in charge of the Milwaukee office, appeared to try to improperly shape the testimony of a subordinate who was scheduled for a deposition in the lawsuit. That subordinate, special agent and firearms instructor Mark Crider, had determined that Slaby was qualified to be an agent because he could shoot with his dominant hand. Crider alleged that Carlson told him that his testimony should "come down on the side of the government in this matter," by saying that Slaby was not qualified to be an agent. He said that Carlson told him that Slaby, an FBI telecommunications specialist, should never be an agent because of his disability and that he should be satisfied with the job he had. Carlson denied making the remarks attributed to her, saying she told Crider to "just tell the truth" and "don't do anything stupid." But the inspector general's report says it concluded that Crider's recollection was more credible and that Carlson had "conducted herself unprofessionally and exhibited extremely poor judgment." "We concluded that regardless of whether Carlson intended with her statements to influence Crider's deposition testimony, the statements created the appearance that Carlson was attempting to do so," the report said. Carlson, who has since been transferred from her position in Milwaukee to one in Washington, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The inspector general's report identifies her as an acting deputy assistant director. The inspector general's office said it referred its findings to the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, which declined to prosecute Carlson. The report also criticized Carlson for having admonished another subordinate for comments made to an FBI inspection team about the field office's response to a 2012 deadly shooting at a Sikh temple. FBI spokesman Paul Bresson declined to comment, saying it's an ongoing personnel matter. Slaby's lawsuit went to trial last year in federal court in Virginia. A jury ruled in his favor and awarded him damages for emotional pain and suffering. One of his lawyers, John Griffin, said he was pleased with the report. He said his client is now in training to be an FBI special agent. "It makes it pretty clear that when supervisory personnel attempt to intimidate special agents in the line of duty, and intimidate them from telling the truth, that people who do that are going to be treated harshly and rightly so," Griffin said. ___ Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

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