WASHINGTON -- An agent in the FBI's Minneapolis office has alleged that an evidence recovery team stole a Tiffany crystal globe from the site of the World Trade Center collapse.
Special Agent Jane Turner's claim prompted two senators to press FBI Director Robert Mueller to promise no retaliation against the agent.
Turner turned the globe over to the Justice Department's Inspector General's office after, according to Turner, local FBI officials would not act on her complaint. She said the globe, which retails for $115, is worth more than $5,000 because of its value as a collectible.
Turner contacted Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who chairs the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a member of the committee who has pushed for more whistleblower protections. Leahy and Grassley contacted Mueller last month.
Paul McCabe, a spokesman for the Minneapolis FBI office, said that when the allegation was first made, the office's special agent in charge, Deborah Pierce, immediately referred it to the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility in Washington.
"Any allegations are taken seriously," he said, declining to comment further because of the Inspector General's investigation.
In a Sept. 11 letter to the IG's office, Turner said she discovered the globe sitting on a secretary's desk in August. When Turner asked about it, the secretary told her someone from the evidence recovery team had brought it back from ground zero.
Turner, a 24-year FBI veteran, said that galled her because she is investigating thefts of "souvenirs" taken from the World Trade Center evidence recovery site.
In a Senate speech Tuesday, Grassley said, "It's not only illegally taking evidence from a crime scene, but it's stealing from hallowed ground where thousands of people died on September 11."
Turner did not return a phone message left Tuesday, but her Washington lawyer, Stephen Kohn, said his client was "scared out of her wits. That's why she went to the United States Senate for help."
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