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FBI Special Agent Discusses Corruption

For The Heights

Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Cynthia Deitle gave a presentation on public corruption at the Winston Forum on Business Ethics in the Murray Room of the Yawkey Center.

The presentation, which lasted about an hour, focused on the different types of public corruption and what the FBI does to fight it.

 "Corruption goes to the heart of who we are as people," Deitle said. "For that, corruption is the number one criminal program in the FBI other than counterterrorism."

Deitle has worked for the FBI for 17 years, 16 of which were spent in the Civil Rights Unit in the New York Division. Last year, she accepted a transfer to the Boston Division, where she supervises the Public Corruption and Civil Rights units.

"The average person knows corruption when they see it, but they are often afraid to come forward," Deitle said.

She cited specifically the case of former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi as an example of this phenomenon.

The whistleblower in the DiMasi corruption case went to The Boston Globe with the story rather than the authorities. According to Deitle, this happened because the press tends to keep its sources anonymous, while the FBI might require the whistleblower to testify.

This example highlighted the main theme of her presentation: to convince the public to help end corruption. Deitle moved on from this local story to discuss the different types of corruption as well as their effects on the economy and society.

"No one will want to invest in a corrupt project since there is no legitimate competition," Deitle said. "This hurts the economy of a town or city. And smaller forms of corruption tend to lead to larger forms."

She emphasized the difficulty of exposing corruption due to issues of loyalty and employment. These impediments become particularly strong when the economy is down and are often hard to break in law enforcement corruption.

Even harder than breaking the bonds of loyalty is proving that public corruption is occurring.

Deitle, during this section of the presentation, expanded upon building cases against figures suspected of a form of corruption. She highlighted the importance of wires, hidden cameras, and other forms of surveillance used to catch criminals in the act.

One of the major examples she used was that of the "Tennessee Waltz." In this case, the FBI fabricated a computer recycling company and captured on camera state senators making illegal dealings with undercover agents.

However, many of the cases that Deitle used as examples were broken when arrests were made and the detainee cut a deal for a shorter sentence.

She ended the presentation with a question and answer session with audience members. Most of the questions asked pertained to insider trading and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The session closed with Deitle giving audience members information about joining the FBI. Most of all, she stressed the importance of events like the Winston Forum.

"Things like this help people," Deitle said.

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