Several men have now been convicted for the murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry but we’ve looked into the murky cases of the men in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gun-walking scandal known as Operation Fast and Furious and found those in charge of the program received a better deal.
Two men from Mexico were sentenced for the murder of Terry, in September. But we've learned that the men who allowed those defendants to get their hands on some assault rifles faced a much lighter sentence. Retirement complete with a government pension.
“He was honest, he loved his country, he was a Marine, a police officer, a BORTAC agent. He always did what was right. He loved life to the fullest. He never took anything for granted,” said Michelle Terry Balogh.
Brian Terry's sister lost her brother nearly five years ago. She was proud of her brother's sacrifices but is still looking for justice in this case. The gun-walking operation was supposed to track weapons from a Glendale gunstore into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. But in one congressional hearing from 2011, Phoenix ATF agent Peter Forcelli described what really happened.
“Surveillances were terminated far from the border. Some of these guns could have been diverted with drug cartel drugs to New York to Baltimore to Oklahoma to anywhere in the United States. This was a catastrophic disaster.”
Federal reports obtained by the News 4 Tucson Investigators show the gun buyers spent $1.5 million dollars on 2,000 weapons. The report notes that among those who created the gunwalking program, two men were responsible for creating Fast and Furious: ATF's special agent in charge at the time, William Newell, and his second in command during fast and furious, George Gillett.
Investigators wrote: “Newell also bore ultimate responsibility for the failures in Operation Fast and Furious.”
And on his second in command: “We found Gillett's supervision and judgment in Operation Fast and Furious seriously deficient.”
"The American people deserve answers. The Terry family deserves answers,” said Robert Heyer, Terry’s cousin. “It’s just incredulous that these folks have continued on with their careers. Have been allowed to retire, have been allowed to transfer.”
Tony Coulson was a Drug Enforcement administrator in Tucson during Operation Fast and Furious and worked with Newell and Gillett.
“Nothing happened to them. George Gillett was allowed to retire with no impact on his retirement.”
Bill Newell got an even sweeter deal.
“Newell was demoted from a senior executive service to intelligence analyst or grade 13.”
Coulson estimates Newell stands to make $100,000 a year in annuities.
“That’s a shame for someone who put guns out on the street which became crime guns which may have resulted in the murder of a U.S. agent," Coulson said.
The Terrys keep seeking answers in this case.
“Brian lived by quotes and he always said you never leave a man behind. I just hope justice doesn't leave him behind,” said Terry-Balogh.
Ultimately, federal investigators found 15 people were responsible for Operation Fast and Furious. We reached out to ATF for more than three weeks to press them on the retirement packages. Spokespeople answered our calls but would not respond to our questions. We will continue pushing to find out what happened to the remaining 13 ATF employees involved.