Day 4: Supervisor testifies in FBI wrongful termination suit

Day 4: Supervisor testifies in FBI wrongful termination suit
Warren Flowers claims the FBI wrongfully terminated him. (Source: WDAM)

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Testimony continued on the fourth day of federal court in Hattiesburg in the case of former FBI agent Warren Flowers, who is suing the Federal Bureau of Investigation, claiming he was wrongfully terminated from his job.

Thursday’s testimony centered around Flowers’ former supervisor, Rachel Byrd, who among other things, was responsible for approving and reviewing operations carried out by agents from the field office in Hattiesburg as well as submitting summary performance reports on those agents and their actions.

In one of those reports, Byrd gave Flowers a poor review citing documentation issues as well as failure in transcribing phone calls and for using, without permission, a confidential human source.

Concerning that CHS, Byrd testified she gave Flowers multiple opportunities to produce a text message from the Mississippi Department of Corrections giving him permission to use the informant as an asset.

“I had given him deadline after deadline, but I never got a response,” said Byrd. “There was no indication he had approval in his text messages.”

Subsequently, Byrd called Flowers to her office and asked him to open his phone and show her the text message from MDOC giving him permission to use the CHS, but was then told that he had deleted it. Afterwards, Byrd told Flowers to shut the case down and close the file.

There was also another incident which came out during testimony, in which Flowers was tasked to transcribe wiretapped phone calls. Byrd claimed that on the day in question, Flowers had missed transcribing two of the phone calls, which could have put agents’ lives at risk. When asked about it, Flowers remained adamant he had transcribed them. When pressed further, he then claimed that another agent in the room deleted them.

Byrd also went on to say that Flowers claimed to have worked a 10-hour shift at the office all day but after checking the records from the door’s security access history, it showed him only at the office for two hours on that day. She went on to say Flowers then shifted his story to reflect that he had been out spot-checking areas of surveillance.

During cross examination, attorneys for Flowers questioned Byrd about giving him such a poor performance report after previously, just a few months prior, stating in another report, he had “hit the ground running” indicating that he was doing a good job.

“Did he do everything you wanted him to do?” Flowers’ attorney asked Byrd.

“Absolutely,” Byrd replied.

In another file review, Byrd had commented that Special Agent Flowers had “developed good liaisons and displayed good initiative by making sure other agencies were being involved.”

Then in a report a few months later, a hand-written comment by Byrd stated that he “needed to slowdown and thoroughly review policy before proceeding in case related matters.” That comment, said Byrd, was the result of Flowers lack of properly documenting his activities and evidence.

She also updated the report to note: “Flowers will be working on paperwork completion and improvement for the next file review period. SA Flowers is not to take the lead on operational matters at this time.”

During testimony, it was also revealed that tension had developed between Flowers and other FBI agents in the Hattiesburg field office.

That tension, according to Flowers’ attorney, led him to ask permission to deputize members of other law enforcement agencies to work with him on his cases. Those requests were ultimately denied by Byrd.

Previous testimony during the trial from Special Agent David Roncska and former Special Agent Nate Songer, now semi-retired, indicated that trust began to erode after Flowers started lying to them.

Eventually, Flowers was relocated to the Division Headquarters in Jackson and finally terminated from the FBI in November 2016.

The trial will continue Friday in Federal Court in Hattiesburg.

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