Mark S. Zaid, Esq.
(202) 785-3801


Federal Lawsuit Filed By Former Double-Agents And Informants Based On False Promises Of FBI Special Agents


On Tuesday, May 4, 1999, and Wednesday, May 5, 1999, WNBC-NY, on its Newschannel 4, broadcast at 11:00 P.M., will feature a two part investigative report by Tim Minton that exposes a pattern and practice of betrayal by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) towards their most trusted and important undercover sources. The reports will highlight the circumstances facing Steve W. [name withheld for protection], a former informant on corrupt law enforcement officers, and Barbara and Eugene Makuch, former U.S. double-agents against the Soviet Union, each of whom share one crucial thing in common: they were exploited and abandoned by the FBI. Both Steve W. and the Makuchs are represented in a lawsuit, which was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

"Law enforcement agencies rely heavily on informants and double-agents to help prevent crime and apprehend criminals. Promises are frequently made by officials to entice cooperation. The FBI, unfortunately, appears more interested in exploiting those who could and do provide crucial assistance, than rewarding them," said Mark S. Zaid, JMP's Executive Director. Zaid added that although enforcing verbal promises made by FBI agents is typically a formidable task, when the informant turns the table on his handlers by tape-recording all his meetings and the double-agent is awarded the highest civilian honor, one must think twice about the credibility of the FBI in denying that any compensation is due.

Steve W. was a key informant for the FBI in New York during 1991-97, but now he is on the run from, among others, organized crime. Steve W. provided the FBI crucial evidence on corrupt state police officers, union bosses, politicians, murderous motorcycle gangs and members of organized crime
families; information which thus far has resulted in a dozen indictments. In return, he asked the FBI for only one thing: a new life in the Witness Security Program. Given his repeated contributions and risks, his FBI handlers had no problem promising Steve W. they would take care of his needs. Ultimately, they abandoned him to live his life in total fear.

In being trained by the FBI to expose the misconduct of criminals, however, Steve W. was taught all too well. Suspecting a betrayal, Steve W. secretly taped his meetings with FBI representatives. "I have no control over money up there," a FBI agent told Steve W. in April 1996. "All I can tell you is, George [an FBI supervisor] made a promise to you, he made a promise to me, and one of those promises was we would put you somewhere." That promise went unfulfilled. The FBI has also refused to pay the $12,000 delinquent debt associated with its storage of Steve W.'s personal belongings. The items are to be auctioned next month.

Barbara Makuch lived a different life than Steve W., but encountered a similar fate. In the late 1960s, she began what would become a 22-year undercover career as a FBI double agent battling Communism, moving between her KGB handlers in Moscow and her FBI controllers in the United States. Her work led to the exposure of a Soviet effort to smuggle money to U.S. communist front organizations, and influenced U.S. foreign policy towards the U.S.S.R. During her FBI career, she and her husband, also a FBI double-agent, received nothing more than expense money for their dangerous efforts.

The Bureau, however, promised them social security, a pension, health benefits, tuition funds for their daughter and, most importantly, a usable "background" or "legend" so their lives could return to normal after their spying days ceased. In 1992, the Director of the FBI presented Barbara Makuch the Louis E. Peters Memorial Award, its highest civilian decoration. Even with the award in hand the spy who helped the U.S. win the Cold War found herself entirely abandoned into the cold. The promises went unfulfilled. "The cases of Steve W. and Makuchs represent the best and the worst of American law enforcement. Despite repeatedly demonstrating their personal courage and willingness to risk their lives for the benefit of the FBI, they were betrayed by the very government officials they trusted. If these cases demonstrate anything, it is that people may wish to think twice about cooperating with the FBI," said Zaid. JMP also represents Omer Al Ghadi, who was a key witness in an important terrorism trial ten years ago but whose promised reward by FBI agents has never materialized, added Zaid.

JMP is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization with the primary purpose of educating the public on issues relating to intelligence gathering and operations, secrecy policies, national security and government wrongdoing.