There’s a pattern to the current swamp practices in America. If an employee should stand up for the truth and the “powers that be” feel that such actions make them look bad, then they will go to the dark side to destroy that employee. That includes fabricated accusations of wrong-doing, and numerous “investigations.” Such is the case of Robert Ledogar, a former Supervisory Deputy US Marshal, who defended a team member and paid dearly for it.
A Veteran in the crosshairs
Robert Ledogar is a US Navy veteran. He was a Master-at-Arms, a rating which is responsible for law enforcement and force protection in the United States Navy. He spent seven years in the US Navy and deployed to Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm. After recruiting materials were sent from the US Marshals Service (USMS), Robert applied and was accepted in 1995. He left the Navy that year to join them.
The USMS – US Marshals Service – has a stellar reputation as the oldest law enforcement agency in the United States. We’ve written about their exploits in saving trafficked children, and apprehending criminals, guarding judges, etc.. But there is a flip side to having a “stellar” reputation: if anyone makes too much noise, that reputation is threatened and the agency turns ugly.
Ledogar was promoted to a Supervisory Special Agent in 2010 after exemplary job reviews, and assigned to the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force with 12 Marshals under him. The Task Force, which was funded by Congress, consisted of at least 80 local or state law enforcement agencies and the US Marshals Service.
The start of trouble
In 2015, Ledogar said he was approached by a Deputy Marshal stationed on the Task Force located in Long Island, New York. She was an outstanding Deputy Marshal and had an enormous responsibility to include management of local law enforcement. She confided in Ledogar, advising him that Task Force team members were harassing her. They were mocking her, trying to intimidate her, and over time, Ledogar discovered that she had been physically assaulted, and her girlfriend had also been harassed.
Ledogar says he confronted the ringleader, who stated that all the accusations were false and the female deputy was just emotional. Two other local law enforcement officers on the task force who had participated in bullying and harassing the female deputy also denied any participation. Ledogar began documenting the discriminatory, harassing, and bullying behavior of three members of the task force. He notified USMS Internal Affairs and filed a report to his boss. Ledogar also told the Supervisor of the task force on Long Island, identifying the three law enforcement personnel. Shortly afterward, during the execution of a fugitive warrant, the female deputy was shoved by one of the three officers named in the complaint in a manner that caused her to fear for her life. Ledogar reassigned the deputy for her safety. The female deputy discovered that members of the Task Force were given copies of her complaint.
Jane Turner at Whistleblower Network News
We asked Ledogar what he thought might have been the bottom line in their behavior. His response reflected an age-old problem: “The female deputy is gay, and the cops probably just didn’t want her telling them what to do.”
Robert’s job as a supervisor was to document and assist the female with her complaints. She had been given charge over a squad of task force members. But those members did not like the deputy and harassed her unmercifully. He did what was right. Complaints against the female deputy came up as well, until she was suspended twice.
The Deputy Robert attempted to help is a case in point. She waited many years for relief- in the end, she received back what the USMS took from her, and a small settlement that just covered her attorney expenses.
An ugly culture
We spoke to a current USMS Deputy Marshal, who told us that the “Equal Opportunity” process is a total mess. They are understaffed and overburdened. They told us that some who have gone through the process will “never do it again.”
[In 2017, Senator Charles Grassley issued two letters regarding some of the problems at the USMS. One of those problems has been whistleblower retaliation since 2015].
“We’re told to report bad cops or a hostile work environment, but when a person tries to do that, leaders ignore the issue. It has taken some people 4 or 5 years for people to get help. The EEOC forces you to get a personal lawyer, and then they play games like stalling the hearing. They all know the leadership of the USMS. Meanwhile, the person who lodged the complaint waits. The system is so messed up that most people don’t file at all – you might have to finance your house, and face the retaliation of your coworkers, like being passed over for promotions or worse.”
US Marshal (2)
If whistleblowers weren’t welcome, neither were those who helped them. Retaliation was the name of the game.
The Unlawful Termination of Robert Ledogar
The leadership of the US Marshals Service felt threatened both for themselves and the agency. So began the common pattern of turning the narrative against Robert, to accuse him of activities that never occurred. A total of four internal investigations were started against him, accusing him of everything from drugs to theft to covering up criminal activity. We also were told that they attempted to accuse him of racism, even though he supervised the most diverse US Marshals. When three of the accusations were thrown out as being “unsubstantiated,” the USMS simply added them all together in a fourth internal investigation.
Robert Ledogar was fired 70 days before his retirement. Twenty-five years of service lost. His performance evaluations had always been outstanding. The situation has been financially devastating to Robert and his family.
The Deciding Official, a Chief Deputy US Marshal GS15, stated that “the US Marshals Service does not feel that Robert Ledogar can perform at a Satisfactory level.”
My performance ratings before, during and after these internal investigations were always Outstanding, and were so during my whole tenure as a Supervisor and majority of my time as a Deputy US Marshal.
I supervised the most diversified men and women US Marshals ever in my district and those men and women grew to become Outstanding performers for the US Marshals Service.
Over a hundred letters of support from officials were sent to the deciding official, a Chief Deputy US Marshal (GS15). All were disregarded. In fact, another Chief Deputy who defended Robert is now under investigation himself. More retaliation. How far will it go?
Robert has two cases, one will be heard before the MSPB- Merit Service Protection Board in June, and one at the EEOC- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He said he doesn’t want to be reinstated at this point, he simply wants his retirement restored and compensation for the emotional suffering. He also told us that some of the USMS officials are currently under investigation by the OIG- Office of Inspector General over past practices of retaliation.
I’m sad every day that this happened. I never imagined this agency would turn on me for just doing my job. I didn’t break any laws, in fact, worked to follow them. I am disappointed that the entire investigation began from lies. The process is designed to wear people down.
The National Police Defense Foundation has set up a legal defense fund for Robert Ledogar in light of his unlawful termination.
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