Moving The Deck Chairs On The Titanic

The new Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm, and Explosives announced a reshuffling of headquarters staff in a press release today. There are some demotions such as William Hoover and Mark Chait and a lot of lateral transfers.

ATF Acting Director Jones Announces New Staff Assignments

WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Acting Director B. Todd Jones today announced key staff changes aimed at refocusing the bureau’s direction on its core mission.

“I have assembled a team to move ATF forward in its mission to fight violent crime and protect the American people, and to ensure that an experienced and strong staff is in place to implement that mission,” Jones said. In addition, he thanked all newly reassigned ATF officials for their service and praised their flexibility and willingness to take on the tasks at hand.

Jones was appointed by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently to lead ATF following the departure of former Acting Director Kenneth Melson. The leadership change followed the reassignment of several other ATF officials within the agency following concerns raised about Operation Fast and Furious, a firearms trafficking investigation out of Phoenix now under review by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). While today’s changes are geared toward refocusing ATF under a new acting director, additional staff reassignments may be warranted at the conclusion of the OIG’s report.

Under the changes announced today by Jones, ATF executive staff will be reassigned as follows:

  • Thomas Brandon will become Deputy Director. He most recently served as Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Phoenix Field Division. Prior to that assignment he was the Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Detroit Field Division from January 2008 to August 2011.
  • W. Larry Ford will become Assistant Director of the Office of Field Operations. He most recently served as the Assistant Director of the Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information. Prior to that assignment he was the Assistant Director of the Office of Public and Governmental Affairs from December 2004 to August 2010.
  • Gregory Gant will become the Assistant Director of the Office of Public and Governmental Affairs. Most recently he was assigned to the Office of Public and Governmental Affairs as the Deputy Assistant Director. Prior to that he was the Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Atlanta Field Division from August 2008 to August 2011.
  • James McDermond will return to Assistant Director of the Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information, the position he held before most recently serving as Assistant Director of the Office of Public and Governmental Affairs. He was the prior Assistant Director of the Office of Strategic Intelligence from 2004 to August 2010.
  • Julie Torres will become the Assistant Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations. She most recently served as Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Field Operations – East Region. Prior to that she was the Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Miami Field Division April 2004 to June 2008.
  • Theresa Stoop will become the Assistant Director of the Office of Human Resources and Professional Development. She most recently served at Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Baltimore Field Division from November 2008 to September 2011. She had also served as Chief of Staff for a prior ATF director.
  • Mark Potter will become the Assistant Director of the Office of Management. He most recently served as Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Field Operations – West Region. Prior to that he was the Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Philadelphia Field Division March 2003 to July 2011.
  • William Hoover will become Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Washington Field Division. He had served as Deputy Director from May 2009 to September 2011. Prior to that he was the Assistant Director of the Office of Field Operations.
  • Mark Chait will become special agent in charge of the ATF Baltimore Field Division. He had served as assistant director of the Office of Field Operations from May 2009 to September 2011. Prior to that he was deputy assistant director of the Office of Field Operations – Central Region.
  • Vivian Michalic will become the Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Management and will remain the Chief Financial Officer for ATF. She was the Assistant Director of the Office of Management from September 2010 to September 2011, and had served previously as the Chief of Staff for a prior ATF director.
  • Melanie Stinnett will become Deputy Chief Counsel of ATF. Most recently she served as Assistant Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations. Prior to that she was Assistant Director of the Office of Management and chief financial officer from January 2006 to May 2010.

Not all of these choices are being received with happiness at CleanUpATF.org. For example, whistleblower Special Agent Vincent Cefalu had this to say about Larry Ford, the new Asst. Dir. of the Office of Field Operations.

He has to know that W. Call me Larry Ford was run out of PGA because no one on the hill would talk to him and his credibility is shot in Congress. Factor in his multiple signed lies to Congressional inquiries, and the fact that he was THE Assistant Director of Intel at the MOST critical stages of Fast and Furious and didn’t utter a peep.

UPDATE: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released a statement on the reshuffling last night.

“The reassignments are positive, especially in the case of Tom Brandon who I hope can help lead this agency out of its troubles. But, I caution that rearranging the chairs on the deck, won’t make Fast and Furious go away. I also question the timing of this announcement. There is a lot of effort at the Justice Department to spin the fact that the Attorney General was less than candid before the House Judiciary Committee, and what better way to make that go away than a bureaucratic shuffle. There are a lot of questions that remain to be answered and actions that need to be explained.”


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