In what the Seattle Times calls a major rebuke, FBI officials in Washington overruled a decision by the bureau’s Seattle office to reduce the number of agents investigating the slaying of federal prosecutor Thomas Wales. The officials took the rare step yesterday of putting the case under the direction of the FBI’s agent in charge in Portland, Robert Jordan. Jordan expects to increase the size of the task force investigating the killing of Wales, who was gunned down in his home in 2001.
Special prosecutor Steven Clymer had asked top FBI officials to review a decision by the agent in charge of the Seattle office, Laura Laughlin, to reduce the number of agents on the case from four to two last month. Laughlin’s decision was strongly criticized by a three-member FBI review team. The team concluded that supervisors in Seattle had failed to provide adequate direction in the case, leaving agents without resources and support. If killed because of his work, Wales would be the first federal prosecutor in U.S. history to be slain in the line of duty. A $1 million reward has been offered for information that helps solve the case. Agents have focused on an airline pilot as their prime suspect. The pilot had been targeted by Wales in a fraud case.