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The FBI: No Margin For Love?

March 22, 2010

Does the Federal Bureau of Investigation frown on romance?

Or does love cause some New York agents to lose their way?

Joe Demarest, the Bureau’s Big Apple top gun, is the latest G-man to have his life complicated by matters of the heart.

In January 2009, FBI Director Robert Mueller thought so highly of the high-strung Demarest, a lean, crew-cut, Delta Force lookalike, that the Bureau lured him out of retirement to head its prestigious New York office.

He gave up his lucrative position as Goldman Sachs’s Director of Security for his FBI dream job.

Today, barely a year later, Demarest is on what the Bureau describes as “temporary assignment” in Washington.

FBI spokesman Rich Kolko said last week that Demarest was in D.C., helping to develop something called Strategy Performance Sessions, or “COMPSTAT LITE,” which sounds like an abbreviated FBI version of the NYPD’s well-known computerized crime strategies.

But sources say it was love that bounced Demarest from his New York job.

Sources say the Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating whether Demarest used his influence as a senior manager to get his FBI agent girlfriend promoted.

The agent, Teresa Carlson, is described as a looker — slim, blonde, and blue-eyed. She headed the white-collar section of the New York office’s Criminal Division with eight or nine squads reporting to her. After a lateral transfer to the Intelligence Division, the FBI promoted her to a job in Washington.

It’s unclear how much influence Demarest had over her career. A source said there was always at least a level of management between them.

Nor is it known when their relationship began. Demarest was described as married in a 2006 press release issued when he was promoted to head the New York office’s Counter-Terrorism Division, one of the Bureau’s most sensitive jobs.

When Mueller persuaded Demarest to come out of retirement to head the New York office in January 2009, he was described as divorced.

Whatever his marital status, let’s hope his entanglement doesn’t end as badly as the romance between actress Linda Fiorentino and former New York FBI agent Mark Rossini.

Fiorentino so bewitched her boyfriend Rossini that she persuaded him to download an FBI document, known as a “302 report,” which ended up in the hands of California private eye Anthony Pellicano, whom the feds were investigating for racketeering and wiretapping.

Rossini was accused of accessing the FBI’s Automated Case Support System more than 40 times for personal use in Washington and New York between January and July, 2007.

He pleaded guilty to five counts of criminal computer access, was fined $10,000 and forced to resign from the Bureau.

If Demarest is finished in New York, it leaves Mueller with a problem vis-à-vis Raymond W. Kelly.

One reason Mueller wanted Demarest to head the New York office is that he is one of the few people in the FBI [or anywhere else in law enforcement] to get along with the NYPD’s headline-grabbing commissioner.

Since Kelly’s return in 2002, he has run rings around the FBI, at least on the media front.

With the assistance of his 24/7 public relations machine — i.e. Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne — Kelly has become expert at glomming media attention with exaggerated claims about his revamped Intelligence Division and of his stationing Intel detectives overseas — which rival the Bureau-led Joint Terrorism Task Force as well as the Bureau’s own overseas agents.

Demarest succeeded Mark Mershon, who told this reporter in January 2006, that his first priority, on Mueller’s orders, was to get along with Kelly.

With Demarest in charge, the New York office appeared to work seamlessly with the NYPD last year in arresting of a band of thugs who, with the help of a Bureau informant, planned to blow up a Riverdale synagogue. Kelly and Demarest appeared together on TV and seemed as united as Kelly appeared to have been with Jim Fox, the FBI’s New York office head, after the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993.

Last fall, when the NYPD nearly derailed the FBI’s investigation of admitted terrorist Najibullah Zazi, who, with three Queens high school chums, planned to detonate explosives in the subway, Demarest [and Mueller] downplayed, if not ignored, the NYPD’s blunder: contacting an informant who tipped off Zazi to the investigation.

So who dropped a dime regarding Demarest’s love life? Was it one of the Bureau’s senior managers in Washington who felt slighted that Mueller had placed a retiree in a plum Bureau job — an unprecedented personnel move?

Or was it an agent in New York who resented Demarest for, what sources say, is his overbearing, dictatorial micromanaging?

Sources add that Demarest expects to return to New York by the end of the month.

However, he recently turned 50, which qualifies him for a Bureau pension. All that remains is a few months to qualify for the requisite time that he lost when he retired to go to Goldman Sachs.

. Quite a week for Police Commissioner Kelly. At the annual Police Foundation dinner Tuesday night at the Waldorf, the first since Kelly forced out the group’s longtime executive director Pam Delaney, the commissioner was the center of attention.

Acting bashful and coy, he allowed himself to be persuaded to play the bongos onstage with Marc Anthony, and allowed such stars and swells as Tina Brown, Charlie Rose, Carl Icahn and Tommy Mottola to have their picture taken with him in a receiving line.

Since 9/11, the Foundation — which was formed in 1978 in the wake of the Knapp Commission to fight police corruption — has raised an annual $3 million from private citizens.

Problem is, no one knows how the money is being spent, and on what projects. Yes, we know that about $1 million pays the expenses of the overseas detectives. But what about the rest?

As is standard procedure with the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, there is no accountability or transparency in the police department.

Kelly exerts such control over the once independent Police Foundation that Delaney’s replacement, Greg H. Roberts, is too frightened to return a call. Hence his middle initial, for House-mouse.

The refrain of foundation chairman Valerie Salembier, a vice president of the Hearst Corporation, is to call the police department for information.

And Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne is very selective about returning phone calls.

The next morning, Kelly was again front and center, this time flush with Irish pride while marching as the Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Not bad for a 68-year-old man with a quadruple bypass, diabetes, and asthma.

And that was just the beginning. Thanks to that well-oiled P.R. machine, the media hailed Kelly as a good Samaritan for stopping on his way to the pre-parade mass at St. Patrick’s cathedral to help a woman knocked unconscious by a bicyclist. As the city’s leading badge-sniffer Mike Daly wrote in the Daily News, “Suddenly Kelly was a cop again. He jumped out of the black commissioner’s SUV in a formal morning coat and grand marshal’s sash and with the same impulse to help that had propelled him from a radio car countless times.”

And in yet another P.R. coup two days later, Kelly arrived with cheesecake in hand to apologize to 83-year-old Walter Martin and his 82-year-old wife Rose for more than 50 mistaken police raids at their Brooklyn home. Although the Martins had written him letters of complaint, Kelly took no action until their story appeared in the News.

Great attention to detail: bringing a cake when you’re eating humble pie.


Copyright © 2010 Leonard Levitt