A federal judge says the FBI can’t be held liable for a clerk’s bungling of a call from killer Gary Lee Sampson when he offered to surrender on bank robbery charges a day before going on a murderous rampage four years ago, reports the Boston Globe. U.S. District Judge Reginald C. Lindsay dismissed a $10 million lawsuit filed by the family of one of Sampson’s three victims, Philip McCloskey, 69.
The judge said federal law protects the government from being sued for negligence because former FBI clerk William Anderson was exercising his discretion when he disconnected Sampson’s call and failed to tell anyone about it. The FBI’s broad discretion to decide whether to investigate or apprehend someone ”encompasses the discretion of an individual officer like Anderson to report or not report a particular call,” Lindsay said. McCloskey’s son, Scott, said it was ridiculous that the FBI has no legal responsibility, even though Anderson was sentenced to six months in prison for lying under oath when he initially denied taking Sampson’s phone call. After Sampson pleaded guilty to federal carjacking and murder charges, a jury recommended that he be executed — making him the only person ever sentenced to the federal death penalty in Massachusetts. He is on death row at the federal prison in Terre Haute, In.