FBI Agent Accused of Helping the Mafia

L A S  V E G A S, June 20, 2001 -- An FBI security expert who had access to

informant identities and witness lists is accused of selling

classified files to the mafia and others involved in criminal

investigations, according to a complaint filed against him by the

FBI.

James J. Hill, 51, an Air Force veteran and security analyst in the Las Vegas FBI office, is charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy and stealing and selling the top-secret FBI information. The six-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, says Hill was paid $25,000 for files from November 1999 until last week. He was arrested Friday in Las Vegas after allegedly faxing classified information drawn from computer files to an FBI informant in New York. A detention hearing was scheduled today in Las Vegas.

Latest in a Series of Problems

The accusations against Hill follow a series of embarrassments for the FBI, including the arrest in February of counterintelligence agent Robert Hanssen, who is accused of spying for Moscow for 15 years; the announcement last month that more than 4,000 FBI documents had been withheld from lawyers for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh; and the botched investigation last year of former Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee. They also come as a Senate Judiciary committee prepares for a hearing on the agency today and as the White House seeks a replacement for retiring FBI director Louis Freeh. The FBI spent Tuesday assessing the damage that could have been caused by the potential release of what the complaint refers to as "hundreds of different classified FBI records and documents pertaining to criminal cases and grand jury investigations." According to the complaint, Hill had security clearances and access to national security data, confidential informant identities, witness lists and electronic surveillance information. An FBI official in New York said the case involves criminal files and not national security secrets.

Accused of Helping the Mob

The complaint, filed by Special Agent Demetrius Barkoukis, accuses Hill of selling classified FBI records relating to organized crime, white collar investigations and international immigrant smuggling. The unnamed informant, identified as a private investigator arrested Thursday, told the bureau he got FBI records from Hill. In one recent case, the informant said he sold them for $4,000 to a man in Oyster Bay, N.Y., who also has been indicted in the case, the complaint said. Barkoukis also cited telephone records showing that Hill was in communication with people in Cuba and Mexico and said passport records showed Hill had traveled within the last year to Colombia. Grant D. Ashley, Las Vegas' FBI special agent in charge, declined to provide further details because a criminal investigation is continuing.