Caleb VanGrinsven Dates FBI Agent, Is Arrested When She Finds Out His Secret
A profile shot of Caleb Heath VanGrinsven from his Facebook site.
A Phoenix man under investigation for domestic violence began dating an FBI agent -- and landed in jail after she learned of his secret.
Caleb Heath VanGrinsven, 31, was arrested soon after leaving the female agent's Flagstaff residence on May 14 in an operation involving three agencies. The employee of a Phoenix air-ambulance firm and former Wyoming resident has been in federal custody since then, with a detention hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning.
The case began, says a federal complaint, when FBI agent Rachael Herrick "recently discovered that her boyfriend (VanGrinsven) was a person of interest in a law enforcement investigation in Wyoming."
Herrick told her training agent what she'd learned about her boyfriend and that the news "caused her concern for her personal safety," records state.
The revelation led quickly to the involvement of the FBI and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Herrick had not only heard about the Wyoming investigation, the FBI told the ATF, but she'd been "advised that VanGrinsven" had a history of dating women in law enforcement and being involved in domestic violence with those women." And he had "pending domestic violence charges in Maricopa County."
She could have discovered some of the information herself by searching online records.
VanGrinsven's wife, (or girlfriend), who lives in the city of Maricopa, filed a complaint and order of protection against him in October, Maricopa County family-court records show. In December, the Pinal County Attorney's Office filed a complaint against VanGrinsven for failing to comply with a domestic-violence court order. That case is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on June 3.
It's unclear precisely when Herrick made the unpleasant connections, but the news apparently caught her by surprise: When she informed her training agent about VanGrinsven, he was "currently" at her Flagstaff residence, having driven up from Phoenix to see her.
Herrick informed authorities that VanGrinsven always carried a Glock 23 pistol in a hip holster.
A brief investigation revealed that VanGrinsven's order of protection in Maricopa County was still valid. It warned that VanGrinsven may have committed domestic violence and may do so again, prohibits him from stalking or harming the victim, and prohibits him from possessing a firearm.
Agents staked out Herrick's residence. When VanGrinsven eventually drove away, a Flagstaff police officer found a reason to pull him over and question him about his firearm. At Flagstaff police headquarters, Ogg read VanGrinsven his rights. VanGrinsven then told the ATF agent that his Phoenix lawyer, Harla Davison, had recently advised him that the domestic-violence charges and order of protection "had been dropped." VanGrinsven was slapped with a federal charge of possessing a firearm in violation of an order of protection.
Davison did not return a message left on Friday.
Magistrate Judge David Duncan ordered VanGrinsven held in custody until Tuesday's hearing.
VanGrinsven is a communication specialist at the Phoenix branch of PHI Air Medical, a woman with the company confirmed.
UPDATE: 4:50 pm -- Jim Knupp, the Pinal County Attorney's Office spokesman, got back to us with some additional information:
VanGrinsven's charge for his alleged failure to comply with a court order stems from an earlier case pending before the court. Records show that in November, VanGrinsven was charged with two domestic-violence counts, one for assault and another for disorderly conduct. He's fighting the charges. The record didn't show up in our previous search because it was listed under a misspelling of the defendant's name.
Check back here for more updates on the case.
UPDATE 5-21: VanGrinsven was released on Tuesday from federal detention on his own recognizance.
UPDATE January 29, 2015: VanGrinsven pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. He's scheduled for a March 2 sentencing hearing in federal court in Phoenix. His plea agreement stipulates that his sentence be in the middle of the range of possible sentences, and that if he accepts full responsibility for his actions at his sentencing, he'll be treated more leniently. VanGrinsven also agreed to forfeiture of his Glock and 14 rounds of ammo.
UPDATE March 30: On March 2nd, VanGrinsven was sentenced by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow to five months in prison, five months in home confinement, and three years' probation. He's set to do a self-surrender to the federal Bureau of Prison on April 13.
Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.
- FEMA May Deploy Response Team to Navajo Nation Following Mine Spill
Sat., Sep. 12, 6:00pm
Sat., Sep. 12, 8:00pm
Sun., Sep. 13, 1:05pm
Mon., Sep. 14, 6:40pm
- Phoenix Suspect in Garland Attack Demands New Lawyer, Complains About DNA Testing
- As Arpaio's Trial Approaches, More MCSO Shenanigans Pop Out of the Woodwork