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Five Minority FBI Agents Sue Agency

September 27, 2002

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Five minority FBI agents have sued the agency, saying racial bias interfered with their work on probes including the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The agents were pursuing leads on the attacks when their supervisor complained they were spending too much time out of the office, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in the District of Columbia.

``White agents were not subject to the same scrutiny,″ said their attorney, Ronald Schmidt.

The complaint says the agents’ supervisor in the New York office constantly asked them to account for their whereabouts, even while they were undercover.

A spokesman for the FBI in New York, Joseph Valiquette, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. Another spokesman, Mike Kortan, told The New York Times that the agency wouldn’t comment on the case, but said ``any allegation of discrimination or retaliation is taken seriously and acted upon.″

The agents _ Wilfred Baptiste, Kendall Hobson, Paul Sutherland, Nathan Tucker and Carlos Luquis _ investigate organized crime, terrorism and espionage. Four are black; one is Hispanic.

In a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller III and several lawmakers, the agents said their images were posted on a board usually reserved for pictures of criminals or suspects, with a caption that called them ``whiners.″

Schmidt also said that while several of the agents were credited with important arrests, they did not receive the usual cash awards or letters of commendation.

They are seeking up to $300,000 each for emotional distress, other harm and back pay, and want the court to bar the FBI from continuing to discriminate against them.