An investigation into misdeeds stemming from an amorous affair between a federal prosecutor and an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent has begun in the Southern District of Georgia. The matter threatens the outcome of numerous federal cases where AUSA Cameron Ippolito and ATF Special Agent Lou Valoze collaborated. A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed the ongoing investigation.
All of the federal judges in the district were notified by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Ed Tarver in a letter dated January 22, 2015 that the two were engaged in an "affair" from some time in 2009 to March 2014. Tarver wrote to the judges professing his purported determination, with assistance from the DOJ, to fully investigate the matter. Tarver claimed in the letter that only four cases could be affected by Ippolito and Valoze's illicit acts that are first now coming to light. Those familiar with the nature and length of Ippolito and Valoze's affair suspect the number of affected cases may be significantly greater.
U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver has tacitly acknowledged prosecutorial misconduct in his office, but is seeking to minimize its potential scope
Tarver's spin on the matter is being taken at something less than face value. In an order signed Friday, January 30, 2015 by all of the federal judges in the Southern District of Georgia, the U.S. attorney's office was ordered to submit a complete list of every case in which Ippolito colluded with Valoze, in order to fully ascertain the potential number of tainted cases.
Federal judges in the Southern District of Georgia are demanding a complete accounting of the potential damage
Along with other misdeeds, it is alleged that they had conspired to illegally obtain a visa for an informant who had assisted the pair in an earlier investigation and prosecution. Visa Fraud is a federal offense punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. The penalty increases to up to 15 years if the fraud is linked to other criminal acts.
Valoze and Ippolito applied for a special visa for an informant in May of 2012. The application failed to disclose that the informant faced felony charges for gambling and counterfeiting. Also omitted from the application was the fact that the informant had stolen from the ATF. Valoze and Ippolito also failed to disclose that the informant had been arrested multiple times for domestic violence.
The matter would be fairly serious even if it were limited to rewarding a cooperating witness with a visa, but the material misrepresentation of the informant's background was a factor in at least one federal trial. Tarver said in his letter to the judges in his district that Ippolito and Valoze may have failed to turn over impeachment material about the informant to defense lawyers. The fact that the U.S. attorney for the district felt compelled to include such language in a letter to the judiciary leaves little doubt as to the failure of the government to give the defense relevant impeachment or Brady material.