Tom Bullen, Ex-Marshal's Agent, Treated Lightly in Bad-Ethics Charge
A former high-ranking Arizona U.S. Marshal's agent has had a criminal ethics-violation charge against him dropped and will enter a pretrial diversion program.
The move by the government on Thursday to let Bullen off the hook with light treatment came even as Bullen continues pressing a civil lawsuit against the Marshal's Service related to the same situation.
Bullen was indicted in October 2012 for allegedly violating a federal anti-corruption law in efforts to secure a job with the same private company he was in charge of overseeing.
The former hospital administrator was hired by the federal Marshal's Service in 2005, and by 2006 he was made chief administration officer.
In 2011, however, he was demoted and put in charge of the agency's contract with Corrections Corporation of America, (CCA). He then spent three-to-five days a week at the CCA's Florence facility, responsible for making sure the company complied with its contract.
"What I do now is oversee a $4 billion, 20-year contract with [CCA]..." Bullen wrote of his duties in an unrelated proceeding," the indictment states. "I go throughout the facility and compare the contract with what they are doing. I make surprise inspections at all times of the day or night; and file reports with the Arizona U.S. Marshals Service and also confer with the Office of Federal Detention Trustee in Washington, D.C."
If you were CCA, in other words, you wanted to make sure Bullen was happy.
Bullen found out in September 2011 that the CCA's health administrator was retiring and applied for her job. He submitted a resume to the company that touted his then-current job as the oversight specialist for the CCA contract.
During a November 18, 2011, interview, the indictment says, Bullen told his prospective employers that he didn't intend to tell the Marshal's Service about the potential job until he knew whether or not he was getting it.
He received the job offer on November 22 and submitted his resignation to the Marshal's Office. Instead of letting him go, the Marshal's Service put him on paid administrative leave and began an investigation that led to the indictment. He was charged with one count of "conflict of interest" based on U.S. Title 18 criminal code, sections 208 and 216.
CCA ended up hiring someone else for the position.
On Thursday, court records show, the government had the case dismissed and allowed Bullen to take pretrial diversion, which leaves him with no criminal record. The requirements for completing the diversion program typically involve nothing more than taking some classes or counseling.
Interestingly, a December 2012 article in the Arizona Republic about the indictment implies Bullen got off easy:
"The most frequent prosecutions were for employees charged with violating the same section of the U.S. Criminal Code that Bullen is accused of violating, and they are typically resolved with guilty pleas, probation and fines," wrote veteran Repub reporter JJ Hensley. "Prison time is rare but is exercised in some cases."
The Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on the case or the requirements of Bullen's diversion program.
Meanwhile, Bullen is moving forward with a discrimination lawsuit he filed in July against the Marshal's Service related to both his 2011 demotion and the 2012 loss of the CCA job.
As a white man, Bullen claims he was discriminated against for his race by Arizona U.S. Marshal David Gonzales and his chief deputy, Fidencio Rivera, who are both Hispanic. The office replaced him with lesser-qualified, younger women when he was demoted in 2011, he claims, so he's suing for age and gender discrimination, too. Finally, he alleges the office retaliated against him. He's seeking compensatory damages, attorneys' fees and other awards. The case is set for a scheduling conference on November 22.
"Mister Bullen has filed numerous... grievances against the Marshal's Service management," U.S. Marshal Gonzales tells New Times. "All have been dismissed, and I'm confident this one will be, too."
Bullen's currently employed as an agent -- of the insurance variety, his LinkedIn page shows. He didn't immediately return a call for comment; we'll let you know if he does.
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