Oxford FBI agent under investigation

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Hal Neilsen, the former FBI agent in charge of Oxford’s office is under investigation for unspecified acts, the Daily Journal learned Friday.
The disclosure came from Daily Journal inquiries about the truthfulness of statements in a new book about the Scruggs judicial bribery scandal.
“Kings of Tort” authors Alan Lange of Jackson and retired assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Dawson write in their book, set for release Dec. 2, that Oxford’s former resident FBI agent, Hal Neilsen, was so untrustworthy that government lawyers went to the FBI’s Jackson office for help.
Carl Cuneo, the new resident agent since April, is not under investigation. Neilsen was removed from the post about a year ago, then returned to investigations this past summer, Cuneo said Saturday.
“From past experiences, (they) had lost confidence in the FBI’s Supervisory Special Agent (SSRA) Hal Neilsen, who was headquartered in Oxford,” reads a passage from “Kings of Tort.”
The “they” includes Dawson, since the book is written in the third person.

Life story
The book is a chronology of the life of now-disgraced former attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs of Oxford and his legal career, decisions and associations leading up to his legal downfall.
Scruggs and co-defendants are serving prison time for guilty pleas across two judicial bribery cases.
In an interview with the Daily Journal, Lange and Dawson declined to explain their accusations against Neilsen. They said they used that passage to explain why the federal investigation did not use Oxford-based FBI to smoke out a conspiracy to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City.
“Paramount to their success (in the investigation) would be secrecy and how the case agent would be supervised,” the Lange-Dawson book states.
Neilsen supervised all FBI agents in the Northern District of the U.S. District Court.
A Daily Journal source, who asked not to be identified because of his familiarity with the region’s judicial system, confirmed that Neilsen is under investigation, but he declined to be more specific.
Calls to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to Neilsen and to his Jackson attorney, James Tucker, went unanswered Friday.
According to the book, U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee, Dawson and John Hailman – then assistant U.S. attorney for the criminal division – decided to go from Oxford to Jackson to meet with the special agent in charge of the state.
The trio was unified “in the decision to remove Neilsen from the investigation,” the book says.
According to the book, Dawson and the two others were apprehensive about the visit, saying it was important for them to win the confidence of new Special Agent in Charge Frederick Brink to convince him “that his supervisor in north Mississippi could not be trusted.”
The book says that when the trio met with Brink, also present was an assistant named Steve Gomez, who the authors say “was familiar with the concern with the SSRA in Oxford.”

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.