Racial discrimination among the ranks of law
enforcement personnel is abhorrent and
contrary to theprinciples of justice.
It is not only inappropriate, it is intolerable.

-- James F. Holderman, District Judge

The date:Spring, 1991
The place:Chicago, Illinois
The case:Claiborne Investigation, crack cocaine distribution; 1990-91
The people:
> Constantine Thomas A, Administrator, DEA
> Reno Janet, Attorney General
> Alejandro Duran, Inspector, OPR, DEA
> Bilaisis Vilija A., Assistant US Attorney, wife of S/A Probst
> Brady James, Sgt, Chicago Police Dept
> Evans Thomas, Special Agent, DEA
> Kress Michael, Special Agent, DEA
> Marin Armando, Inspector, OPR, DEA
> McKulsky Edward, Inspector, OPR, DEA
> McMullen William P., Investigator, Op Support Division, DEA
> Moss Kevin, Special Agent, Internal Revenue Service
> Probst Peter, case agent, team leader, DEA
> Rodriguez Alex, Counselor, EEO
> Ross Douglas A., Chairman, Board of Professional Conduct, DEA
> Turner Valerie, Counsellor, EEO
> Vancora Joseph A., Associate Special Agent in Charge, Chicago F/O, DEA
> Weinstein Saul, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, DEA
> Woolley James A., Group 12 Supervisor, Chicago Field Office, DEA
> Wooten John, Special Agent, DEA


The Story

Special Agent Peter Probst was case agent and team leader of the Claiborne investigation, a serious crack cocaine distribution problem in and around Chicago. In the course of DEA's investigation S/A Probst worked with several Special Agents, one of which was John Wooten, a young African-American.

Long hours of stakeouts, wiretaps and the usual investigative procedures were employed. But during the investigation S/A Probst witnessed serious disturbances occurring. He noticed racist antagonism from certain, white law enforcement officers unhappy about S/A Probst working closely with an African-American special agent. S/A Probst also witnessed several white law enforcement officers making racist remarks directed at Special Agent Wooten, the only African-American assigned to the Claiborne case.

Reacting accordingly to Federal law, and doing what Spike Lee (Do The Right Thing) reminded every honest American to do when he or she witnessed another American being harassed, S/A Probst reported the annoying and growing incidents to supervisors and staffers employed to handle issues of racism and illegal employee relations. In short, S/A Probst did the right thing!

What followed evoked terrible memories of Deep South racist hate groups that attacked whites who defended African-Americans. S/A Probst and his wife, an Assistant United States Attorney, were harassed by late night, anonymous telephone calls, some of which referred to S/A Probst as a "nigger lover". And, a well-earned, promised job performance evaluation was downgraded from its highest award, outstanding. Understandably outraged by his co-worker's hostile retaliation, S/A Probst sought relief and support first from EEO then from the courts.

But what came next was a shock to civil rights advocates who sincerely believed Janet Reno's Senate confirmation promise that she would vigorously defend any American who stood up against those who disrespected the Constitutionally protected rights of a fellow American. As a last resort S/A Probst was forced to appeal to the courts. Janet Reno, contrary to the high-sounding ideals spoken nobly by President Clinton and the First Lady, decided to contest S/A Probst's complaints of racism.

For the next two years S/A Probst was subjected to continued harassment. Although assured the highest possible yearly job evaluation, Outstanding, S/A Probst received a lesser evaluation. Instead of the men accused of harassing him and their racist conduct toward S/A Wooten, S/A Probst became the subject of an OPR investigation. Eventually, punishment was not meted out to the law enforcement officers who created the problem. S/A Probst was suspended without pay... all because he tried to do the right thing!

Peter's wife, too, was forced to endure hardships as well. Court papers show that in 1992 Woolley intentionally caused Vilija Bilaisis, (Mrs. Probst), to become the subject of a Department of Justice probe. Sadly, the Nation's top law enforcement agency -- run by a progressive woman, Janet Reno -- became the enemy of working mother employed in Ms. Reno's own Department.

For the next two years, well into 1995, S/A Probst suffered financially, emotionally and physically -- the court declared -- resulting from his courageous effort to rid DEA of racism.

Justice would not prevail until Christmas, 1995. Extensive damages were awarded against DEA and the Justice Department for the cruel and vicious treatment of a DEA agent who's only interest was preserving the integrity of American law enforcement and pursuing DEA's mission to eradicate illegal drugs WHEREVER they exist.

Yet, the ordeal is not over. The defendants in the lawsuit won by S/A Peter Probst, DEA Administrator Thomas Constantine and Attorney General Janet Reno, have appealed the verdict and are continuing the injustice.


In itself, the need for S/A Probst's ordeal to be successfully resolved in court, much less to have the court's fair and warranted decision challenged further, are realities some Americans feared could only happen under the most conservative of political Administrations. Indeed, quite the opposite occurred.

For the Drug Enforcement Administration to function in the most productive capacity, racism and counter-productive activity must be stopped. And stopped immediately. Counter-productive activity in our most depended-upon drug-fighting agency is encouraged when our highest law enforcement agency supports malevolently- inspired conduct by defending it.


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The Phone Calls

According to court documents the calls started immediately after S/A Probst complained to Woolley about other agents' poor work performance on the Claiborne case. Woolley said there was nothing he could do about the calls. S/A Probst replied he would put a trap and trace on the calls. The next night the calls stopped. But S/A Probst began getting beeps on his pager. The numbers displayed on his pager were meaningless. [RETURN]

The Wiretap Affiant

Peter assigned Wooten to be the wiretap affiant. Woolley, according to court documents, wanted someone other than Wooten to be the affiant. [RETURN]

Disturbing problems

According to court documents Woolley was against working on the Claiborne case, saying "... all you got here is niggers selling dope to niggers... no harm or foul...". S/A Probst complained to Woolley that agents were not arriving for work on the case, did not want to participate in surveillances, burned stakeouts, left log books incomplete, failed to inform S/A Probst or Wooten about important information learned from wiretaps, disconnected wires or turned wiretaps off. [RETURN]

James Woolley is wrong

According to court documents DEA Group Supervisor Woolley said, "... all you got here is niggers selling dope to niggers... no harm or foul...". Illegal drug use, like disease, knows no borders. If illegal drug imports, manufacturing and sales are ignored in one community they will spread to another. African-American drug dealers in Chicago earn enough money to expand their operations to other communities. Drugs sold today on the paved streets of Chicago, Illinois could end up tomorrow on the rural roads of Three Oaks, Michigan. [RETURN]