Embattled FBI agents disrupt mourners
gathered at Jonathan Luna's home
Two of nation's top 'counterterrorism' officials
now ensnared in growing Luna scandal
by Bill Keisling
Posted for King Holiday, January 16, 2006 -- On the eve of slain federal prosecutor Jonathan Luna's memorial service and funeral, a team of FBI agents interrupted a small, private gathering of friends-in-mourning at Luna's home to "gather evidence" and closely examine the premises.
As the shocked mourners gathered for Luna's wake on Sunday evening, December 14, 2003, fully expecting to share condolences, stories and sympathies, they were instead repeatedly interrupted by the callous search of Luna's home by the cadre of clumsy federal agents.
Wake interrupted: Front page photo from Jonathan's memorial service program
Those in attendance would end the evening openly wondering about the ethics, competency, professionalism, and lack of basic human civility of the FBI agents conducting an investigation that is now widely seen as fatally flawed, incomplete, and compromised.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Luna was buried the next morning, Monday, December 15, 2003, following a well-attended memorial service. Luna was found murdered eleven days earlier, on December 4, 2003, following his mysterious disappearance from the Baltimore federal courthouse shortly before midnight.
Who would want to kill him?
The night before Luna's memorial service and funeral, his friends gathered at the suburban Maryland home that Luna shared with his wife, two children, and mother-in-law. It was a snowy night, and several of Luna's friends had braved bad driving conditions to console Luna's shocked and puzzled family.
At the gathering, one those in attendance recalls, Angela Luna expressed deep puzzlement about her husband's fate, and the motives for his killing. When asked what had happened, Angela replied, "I don't know, because who would want to kill him?" Angela Luna pointed out to friends that Jonathan was known for maintaining good relationships, and that he seldom ended relationships on a bad footing. "He always ended things on a good note," Angela Luna pointed out. Even Jonathan's former girlfriends would stay in touch, Angela added.
Amid tea and sympathy,
latex gloves and evidence bags
As the mourning friends and family members gathered in Luna's living room, they considered the disparity between the good friend, husband and father they knew well, and wildly false accounts of Luna leaked by the FBI to the national press, complete with increasingly wild and baseless accusations and racial slurs.
As the shocked mourners tried to console one another and make sense of the unfolding nightmarish events, the gathering was suddenly interrupted by the appearance of two FBI investigators.
"It was bizarre," one of those in attendance recounted. "We all got there, it was a snowy night. Jonathan's mother-in-law at one point announced she had to go to the post office, which seemed a little strange. We were in the living room talking when, maybe around 7 o'clock, two female FBI agents handling the investigation came to the door."
Several of those in attendance say they believe the two female FBI agents were FBI Baltimore field office acting assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Linda B. Hooper, and Special Agent Marina Murphy.
"One woman was kind of heavy set," and exhibited somewhat masculine characteristics, a mourner recalls.
"They were both blonde, and one of them was on the chunky side," another remembers. "The chunky one had short hair to her shoulders. The other one was slimmer, with slightly longer hair. Both had pony tails. Both were wearing all black, and the one on the heavier side was wearing a bright red blouse or something under her blazer."
"We jokingly called them Cagney and Lacey," one of Luna's friends recounted, referring to the 1980s television police detectives.
Baltimore field office acting assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Linda B. Hooper and Special Agent Marina Murphy are now being set up by FBI higher-ups to take the fall for the great Bureaucratic failures of the Luna investigation. Hooper and Murphy's work on the Luna investigation was recently described in an internal Justice Department Inspector General's report as being "shoddy."
Moreover, FBI former assistant director of the inspection division, Steven McGraw, is quoted in the same Inspector General's report as telling internal investigators that Hooper and Murphy were "so fundamentally stupid, he would not want them investigating anything for him."
Cagney and Lacey: Were Agents Hooper and Murphy 'Fundamentally stupid,' or just plain, 'Set up to fail?'
On the evening of December 14, 2003, the two female FBI agents who interrupted Luna's mourning friends and family, "acted like they were in charge. They pulled Angela aside and spoke with her in the kitchen.
"They said that they had to go upstairs and take pictures. The slimmer one had a small cardboard box. It was open, and the edges were folded inward. The heavy one had a camera to take some pictures, and they just went straight upstairs."
The mourners attempted to ignore this strange interruption when, several minutes later, a second party of FBI agents arrived at the Luna home and further disrupted Luna's wake.
"First the women came in, and then I would say ten or maybe fifteen minutes later three to five men came in," a mourner recalls. "They actually stopped Angela and they asked where the women were. Angela pointed upstairs. One of the agents was I'd say of medium build with brown short hair, wearing a blue blazer, a jacket kind of."
Another recounts, "They went upstairs. They wore latex gloves. They were searching upstairs."
The search of Luna's house during the wake proved unsettling to the mourners. "At a certain point some of us decided to go for a drive to get out of the house," one mourner recalls. "We were all upset. I mean the whole thing was so bizarre, like a bad dream. We went upstairs to get our coats, which were in Joey's bedroom." Jonathan's closest friends called him Joey. "We saw an agent on his knees, in Angela and Joey's bedroom. He was down on his knees, wearing latex gloves, checking the molding on the wall, kind of like swabbing it for evidence."
"After the agents were done upstairs," another friend recalls, "the guy (i.e. male agent -- ed.) in the blue jacket went into the kitchen and started talking with Angela and her mom. They were just asking questions. Angela had her left arm folded, and her right hand was up by her face, supporting her face."
Another adds, "Then the agents went downstairs and started searching Jonathan's mother-in-law's room. His mother-in-law had her bedroom in the basement. They spent a long time down there. When they came up they were carrying zip-lock evidence bags.
While FBI agents Bald and Love carefully cultivated their own over-blown images in a largely uncritical press, and manipulated the old-boy network, and received promotions, they and their FBI underlings, within hours of Luna's death, blamed Luna for the missing $36,000, and continued to attempt to steer attention away from their own fundamentally dishonest, isolated and unaccountable Baltimore FBI field office, where festering problems overboiled to Critical Mess and badly damaged Luna's last case, setting the stage for his violent death.
"When they finally came up from the basement they had odd looks on their faces. This one agent--. How would you describe the expression he had on? He was an older gentlemen and he gave another a tense look, like he was annoyed about something. They were acting odd. Apparently they didn't find anything. It was just a weird, odd feeling."
The disruptive experience at Luna's wake continued, finally forcing the mourners from the sitting room where they tried to comfort one another.
"At one point we had to leave the living room area because they had to dust that area, or whatever," one mourner says.
"Shortly before we were leaving," another recounts, "Angela's mom came out of the kitchen. She came into the living room and asked us if we could please move into the kitchen area so the agents could search for evidence."
"The agents didn't speak to us whatsoever. They just gave us a quick glance when they came into the room."
"At no point did the agents speak with us or even introduce themselves," another says. "They didn't even give us a card. Which is odd, if they're conducting an investigation."
Driving home, the friends tried to fathom the nightmare they now inhabited.
"We were asking ourselves as we left the house, how in the hell is it these people are searching the house eleven days after it happened?" one mourner asks. "When we saw them we were kind of chuckling under our breath, saying, you know, Is this what the FBI has to offer? Like most people I grew up thinking the FBI was prestigious. You expect better than this from the FBI."
'Counterterrorism' failures at the Dawsons' house
Luna left for dead, and holding the bag
Two years later, Luna's friends say they now believe Luna was the victim of a vicious, and at times blatantly racist attack on his character meant to distract public attention away from the deep difficulties Luna faced prosecuting his last case, due to gross FBI malfeasance and mismanagement.
Fact is, in the last hours of his life, Luna's most pressing troubles were caused and compounded by the mismanagement and outright negligence the Baltimore FBI field office. The Baltimore FBI field office was badly plagued by a revolving-door succession of incompetent overseers and agents-in-charge, including Gary Bald, who now oversees the FBI's "intelligence and terrorism branch," and his protege, Jennifer Smith Love, who now works as a section chief in the FBI's Washington counterterrorism office.
Bald, with Love as his assistant, served as Agent-in-Charge of the Baltimore field office from 2002 until November 2003, shortly before Luna's death. When Bald departed for his new job, Love was named his acting replacement. The recent Inspector General's report documents how Bald later pulled strings to quash an investigation of Love's mishandling of the Luna investigation in order for Love to receive a promotion to her new counterterrorism job.
In their tumultuous tenure at the Baltimore field office, FBI agents Bald and Love oversaw an office that, among other things, misplaced thirty-six thousand dollars from an evidence room lockup in late 2002, and which allowed at least one dangerous informant to run wild and deal heroin. One of Bald and Love's FBI informants, Warren Grace, was caught with heroin on the same day the Dawsons' house infamously burned in Baltimore, on November 16, 2002.
Pretending to give a damn: (Top left to bottom right): Angela, Lawanda, Juan, Kevin, Keith and Carnell Dawson Jr. Carnell Sr. is not pictured; afterwards, the feds pretended to give a damn, even while their own informant, Warren Grace, was running wild.
Agents Bald and Love's isolated, dishonest and corrupt FBI field office, and its "Safe Streets Task Force," did nothing while the Dawsons, over the course of many months, dialed 911 thirty-six times pleading for help. Angela and Carnell Dawson and their five children finally died when their home, for the second time, was torched by a drug dealer named Darrell Brooks, himself, like agents Bald and Love, turned loose to menace society in the revolving door of unsupervised bureaucratic holiday. Afterwards, the feds would pretend to give a damn about the Dawsons, prosecuting Brooks for the Dawsons' murders. In reality, all Bald and Love and their ilk ever really care about are the headlines and their own careers.
And so the number thirty-six takes on a fascinating significance in the Luna murder mystery. Luna was found stabbed thirty-six times, coincidentally or not the number of times the Dawsons unsuccessfully dialed 911 for help, and once for every thousand dollars missing from the courthouse evidence lockup, supposedly under care of Bald and Love.
While FBI agents Bald and Love carefully cultivated their own over-blown images in a largely uncritical press, and manipulated the old-boy network, and received promotions, they and their FBI underlings, within hours of Luna's death, blamed Luna for the missing $36,000, and continued to attempt to steer attention away from their fundamentally isolated, dishonest and unaccountable Baltimore FBI field office, where festering problems overboiled to Critical Mess and badly damaged Luna's last case, setting the stage for his violent death.
The Big Lie
In fact, on December 11, 2003, a week after Luna's death, the Associated Press published a typically preening article on Acting Agent-in-Charge Love, spilling breathless accolades such as, "If I had to describe her in two words, they would be 'very energetic.' She's just tenacious, but she also works well with people." At the same time, in reality, Love allowed her underlings to energetically, tenaciously, and endlessly spew low-brow, incomplete and racist garbage about Luna, involving prostitutes, porn and loose money.
In the jigaboo-threatened, Jack Johnson-era mentality world of agents Love and Bald, and their no-class, gutter Boswells, a black man with money just can't keep his dinger in his pants, or his hands out of the till. Bald and Love ought to be ashamed of themselves, if they are capable of such self-critical emotions. They should resign, or be fired. With these down-home distractions, how can Bald and Love effectively combat the similarly misunderstood, foreign jigaboo threat?
The truth about Jon Luna, I've come to see, is much different than the one-dimensional, mean-spirited and self-serving portrait offered by Bald and Love. Unfortunately, like the Dawson children, Luna never had access to the old-boy network, nor the lazy, suck-up sycophants and amoral hacks in the Baltimore and DC-area press.
At the hour of his mysterious disappearance, Luna instead found himself holding the bag, unable to complete an unlawful plea deal forced upon him by these ever-snowballing FBI negligences. Luna was forced to accept this unlawful plea deal to prevent a court-ordered investigation of Bald and Love's FBI office, whose agents had dangerously mishandled informant Warren Grace, endangering the lives of innocent Baltimoreans.
In the hours before his death, Luna, quite correctly, and repeatedly, questioned the legality of the proposed plea deal, since, he pointed out, the proposed agreement would unlawfully forgive a drug murder. Luna, in fact, never completed the questionable plea agreement before he vanished.
Luna left behind, on his desk, his cell phone, his eyeglasses and the unfinished plea deal in his laptop. The next morning, while Luna lay dead in the Pennsylvania stream, his former associates at the Justice Department hastily rummaged through his office and hurriedly completed the plea deal, rather than sealing Luna's office and preserving it as a crime scene. These sort of people are incapable of caring about the truth, the evidence, nor even basic human civilities. Instead, as Goebbels and his mentor would say, with them it's all about the racist Big Lie, and the spin.
In the hours and days following Luna's vicious murder, these same FBI higher-ups and their allies in the Baltimore field office quickly leaked, and allowed to leak, increasingly preposterous, racist fabrications, half-truths, outright lies and disinformation about Luna to the press. What sort of people are these?
And now, like Luna himself, Agents Hooper and Murphy are predictably being made into fall guys to protect unaccountable higher ups like Bald and Love.
All signs point to this: Jonathan Luna was the victim of an internal courthouse murder. The motive, almost certainly, was unchecked, internal courthouse corruption. This is the one direction that our FBI for some reason forbids its investigators to seriously look. And so corruption worsens. Some people, for obvious reasons, want to keep it that way. That's why all responsible Americans must now demand a full and complete accounting. And not just of Agents Hooper and Murphy.As one of Luna's friends suggests, "Cagney and Lacey were set up to fail."