By Bridget Murphy
BOSTON — A retired FBI official who once supervised all of the agency's U.S. criminal probes and ran its Boston office pleaded guilty to an ethics charge Thursday following an agreement that recommends a $15,000 fine but no prison time.
Kenneth Kaiser Jr. faces sentencing in December in federal court in Boston, where a judge released him on his own recognizance following his plea to the misdemeanor charge of trying to influence FBI agents investigating the private company he was working for within a year of his 2009 retirement from the agency.
An ethics law prohibits senior executive branch personnel from professional contact with the agency they were employed by for one year after leaving government service.
Kaiser's defense attorney, Anthony Fuller, said in a statement Thursday that his client's communications to FBI officials "were made in the good faith belief that he was helping their law enforcement mission."
Fuller said that most of the communications Kaiser made were on behalf of two crime victims. The defense attorney said Kaiser hadn't used secret means or back channels to contact former colleagues and even attended a meeting at the U.S. attorney's office in Boston related to one of the cases.
For the last two years of his FBI career, Kaiser served as assistant director of the agency's Criminal Investigation Division in Washington, D.C., where he was responsible for all of the agency's U.S. criminal investigations. Previously, the 57-year-old resident of Hopkinton, 30 miles west of Boston, served as the special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office from April 2003 to December 2006.
Kaiser's face appeared to get more and more flushed as he answered the judge's questions Thursday while admitting the misdemeanor crime. The maximum penalty for the ethics violation is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Prosecutors have said that Kaiser took a consulting job with LocatePlus Holdings Corp. on the day he retired from the FBI to conduct an internal probe into misconduct by two former company executives and to help sell the company's products and services to the government.
Authorities said the FBI was investigating a securities fraud case involving the two executives. They said Kaiser tried to expedite the agency's investigation, lobbied for the indictment of the two executives and encouraged the FBI to investigate potential wrongdoing by a third party.
Prosecutors also said Kaiser made improper contact with the Boston FBI office after a Gloucester businessman hired him to investigate a threatening letter he'd received.
A lawyer for the government declined to comment after Thursday's proceeding.
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Copyright 2013 Associated Press