"Treatment Through
My Employer?"


2/18/00

Below is an absolutely astonishing
'report' from ABC 'News'.

One junkie arresting another
to keep his addiction going.


And they didn't even bother to say
"the drug war is officially lost."


The last para is the most unreal of all.
No comment on the irony of the employer that
tolerates the insanity being in charge of treating it.

Homicide Within the DEA

Drug Agent Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter in Partner’s Death


Dick Fekete is now serving 15 years in a Florida prison for killing fellow Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Shaun Curl. Fekete says the shooting happened during an alcohol-induced blackout and he does not remember pulling the trigger. (ABCNEWS.com)

Feb. 18

When Dick Fekete woke up from the car accident, he didn’t know what had happened. Among his first words: “Who did I kill?”

     In the crumpled wreckage of the government-issued car, police found a bullet-ridden body slumped over the steering wheel.
     Fekete, 55, a veteran agent with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, had survived in the jungles of South and Central America, often volunteering for dangerous undercover work on the front lines of the drug war.
     The man found dead on a lonely stretch of highway that night in December 1997 was 42-year-old Shaun Curl — a fellow DEA agent. Curl had offered an intoxicated Fekete a ride home from an all-day Christmas party.
     Curl left behind a wife and two young children.
     “It was the hardest thing that I’ve ever endured to be told that he’d no longer be coming home,” his widow, Cathy, told ABCNEWS’ 20/20. “And to have to look my children in the eye and tell them.”
     Fekete pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case and is now serving a 15-year prison sentence. He says he doesn’t even remember pulling the trigger.The shooting occurred, he says, during an alcohol-induced “blackout,” — one of several he has experienced during a lifetime of drunken stupors punctuated by violent incidents.
     “I still don’t know that I shot Shaun Curl. I don’t know it,” Fekete told ABCNEWS’s Brian Ross in an exclusive interview. “I have no recollection of doing it.”

A Reputation as a Hard Drinker
The bald, muscular Fekete was well-known around the DEA for his fearless, first-in-the-door approach to drug raids, for going undercover at a Mexican prison, for being the oldest law enforcement officer, at 47, to complete Army Ranger training school.
     But he was equally well known as a severe alcoholic, a man whose erratic behavior and violent outbursts had caught the attention of his colleagues and supervisors time and time again.
     In fact, documents obtained by 20/20 going back to the late 1970s show that Fekete’s bosses were aware of his problems.
     Fekete says that as long as he “made cases,” no one seemed to care.
     “I put powder on the table,” said Fekete, referring to the drugs he helped confiscate as an agent. “And then we went down to a bar and the bosses would come along and we’d have a few drinks in celebration.”

‘License to Kill’
In 1987, Fekete shot and killed an employee at a Philadelphia bar.
     According to witnesses, Fekete had been drinking at the Waterside Cafe for hours. A fight erupted in the kitchen between two restaurant workers. One of the workers, 26-year-old David Feretti, pulled a knife. When the restaurant manager asked for help, Fekete shot Feretti multiple times, killing him.
     “He went and drew his gun, he saw my brother with a knife and said, ‘life-threatening, bang, you’re dead,’” says Feretti’s brother, Louis.
     The killing was ruled a justifiable homicide, but Louis Feretti believes this incident should have been a wake-up call for both Fekete and the DEA.
     “It’s a license to kill, and they [the DEA] more or less licensed him by allowing it to go on and on for such a long time,” says Feretti.
     “I don’t know if Dick Fekete was the Rambo of the DEA and I don’t really care, to be quite frank with you,” he adds. “I just want to know what the DEA’s going to do about this. I mean, I’d hate to see someone else’s brother or son not come home one night, because an agent has a little bit too much to drink and wanted to throw his weight around.”

Wife Sought Help
In 1990, Fekete received a coveted overseas assignment in Panama. His drinking problem escalated.
     “I don’t think you could drink anymore than I was drinking,” says Fekete, who says his wife joined him in daylong drinking bouts.
     Fekete’s wife said he had several alcohol-induced blackouts during their time in Panama. Leigh Fekete says his drinking led to violence, alleging he once held a gun to the head of the family dog. Another time, she says, he tried to rape her. Finally, she says, Fekete put a gun to her head. Each time, he said he didn’t remember anything the next day.
     Leigh Fekete, now separated from her husband, says her repeated complaints to the DEA were ignored. In 1994, she contacted the American ambassador in Panama.
     “I felt that was my last recourse,” she said during Fekete’s sentencing hearing last year. “I was afraid I was gonna end up floating in the Panama Canal if I didn’t do something. And it was apparent to me that I had no support at the DEA.”
     After Leigh’s letter to the ambassador, the DEA removed the Feketes from their Panama post and put them both in alcohol rehabilitation programs in the United States.

From Rehab to Work

Fekete completed rehab, and doctors released him with a “guarded prognosis” for recovery, recommending that he spend the rest of his life in Alcoholics Anonymous.
     But according to documents obtained by 20/20, the DEA official in charge of the agency’s Employee Assistance Program allowed Fekete to resume active duty just a few months later, stating that Fekete could return to work with “no restrictions.” Fekete was once again armed with his DEA badge and gun.
     “I think we did make some mistakes, clearly we made some mistakes,” admits Bill Simpkins, an assistant administrator at the DEA. “I think there clearly was a culture where the consumption of alcohol was a rather regular event.”
     But Simpkins does not accept Fekete’s claim that the DEA bears ultimate responsibility for Curl’s death. Fekete told 20/20 he believes the agency should have noticed his problem and taken away his gun.
     “Dick Fekete is not a victim in this.” Simpkins says. “Dick Fekete should blame Dick Fekete. … Dick Fekete is the one who began drinking. Dick Fekete is the one who killed Shaun Curl.”
     A year and a half after Fekete returned to active duty, Curl was shot. In sentencing Fekete to the maximum sentence, the judge called him “a loose cannon” who should have been stopped.
     Today, Fekete says he can’t explain what happened. “What did I see? What delusion? What hallucination? I don’t know.”

20/20’s Brian Ross and Jill Rackmill contributed to this report.

Incidents of Drinking and Violence
Within the DEA


Dick Fekete’s story is not the only case of excessive drinking and violence on the part of federal drug agents. In the last few years, there have been several other high-profile incidents involving DEA agents.
    
 Hampton, Va., January 1999
     DEA Mobile Enforcement Team Agent Joseph Armento and five fellow agents were asked to leave a Virginia bar after drinking heavily and arguing. On their way out, the agents traded insults with three local men. In the parking lot, one of the local men displayed a gun. Armento shot one man, and then fired at another, who was attempting to leave in a pickup truck.
     Armento was convicted of unlawfully shooting into an occupied vehicle and was sentenced to five years in a state prison. The judge suspended his sentence, however, and Armento will serve a to-be-determined period of supervised probation.
    
 Houston, July 1995 — A DEA agent out celebrating at his bachelor party shot the owner of a topless nightclub at least five times. Agent Pete Sinclair, 30, had a blood alcohol level of .23 percent — more than double the Texas standard for intoxication — at the time.
     Sinclair and friends repeatedly tried to enter the bar without paying the $5 cover charge, and on their third attempt, a fight ensued. The club owner pinned Sinclair to the ground. Sinclair allegedly fired one shot upward into the owner’s face, and continued to fire at least four more times, stopping only when another club employee shot Sinclair twice.
     Sinclair was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to 10 years probation and a $10,000 fine. Sinclair claimed the club owner had pulled a gun first and that he acted in self-defense. His appeal is pending in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
    
 Colorado, May 1994—DEA Agent Mark Dietze was convicted of threatening to kill the owner of a bar and grill during a bout of heavy drinking. A Douglas County judge called Dietze a “mean drunk” and gave him the maximum sentence of six months in jail.
     Dietze and five other DEA agents had gone to the Sedalia Bar and Grill after a morning at the shooting range. The agents began to annoy customers as they ran up a bar tab of $100 for 11 pitchers of beer and at least two rounds of hard liquor. At one point, DEA bullets were tossed around the room.
     When the bartender cut off their drinks, Dietze lost his temper, flashed his badge and threatened to “bury” it the forehead of the bar owner.
     Dietze acknowledged to the court, “ I realize I am an alcoholic and have sought treatment through my employer.”

Death Squads | Drug War 2000

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