Criminal investigator files complaint against DOJCriminal investigator Dan Bethards is suing his employer, the state Department of Justice (DOJ).
By: By Gilman Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Criminal investigator Dan Bethards is suing his employer, the state Department of Justice (DOJ).
Bethards says the DOJ retaliated against him after he accused a fellow investigator of illegally making and selling guns. Federal firearms officials are investigating the case.
Bethards, a 14-year veteran investigator, told DOJ officials in December that fellow agent Jay Smith was making and selling guns without the required federal license. Smith allegedly sold one of the guns to Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
The DOJ told the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, which began an investigation that is ongoing. But Bethards wants an internal probe as well — when he pressed DOJ authorities to begin one in March, he says they suspended him, took his badge and his gun, and falsely accused him of being mentally unstable.
“They notified all these local sheriff's department, implying that I was crazy, that it was a possibility that I could show up at that place and shoot the place up – just giving them the idea that I am mentally unstable and that I may do something,” Bethards said.
That's when Bethards filed a whistleblower complaint with the Department of Workforce Development and got an independent mental health assessment attesting that he was not a threat to himself or others. He says all he wants now is for the truth to come out.
“The best outcome for me would be that they will look at all the information I provided and go, ‘Dan Bethards told the truth,’” he said. “At this point that's all I'm looking for — I want to be vindicated.”
A DOJ representative says the federal investigation is open, but the department doesn't expect any charges will be filed against Agent Smith.
A DOJ news release says Bethards has some personal animosity toward the agent he is accusing and that if he truly believed he had committed a crime, he would have contacted federal officials directly.