One of the recently unsealed documents, a Dec. 1 opinion by Judge Allegra, finally explains why in October the judge voided his original decision, made in August, to award Dobyns $173,000. (He later reversed his decision to void the judgment, which still stands.) The reason: The judge believed that Justice Department attorneys had “committed fraud on the court.”
One area in which Allegra decided deception had occurred was in the treatment of Thomas Atteberry, the special agent in charge of ATF’s Phoenix office, and Carlos Canino, then the assistant special agent in charge of the agency’s Tucson office. In 2012, a Justice Department attorney, Valerie Bacon, asked both Atteberry and Canino not to reopen the investigation into the arson at Dobyns’ Tucson home because it could hurt the Justice Department’s defense in this case.
Atteberry and Canino were listed as witnesses in the case, but the judge didn’t hear about the DOJ effort to squelch the investigation until the trial, which he considered a concealment by the Justice Department. They went ahead and reopened the case, which remains unsolved, anyway.
More alarming was the other “fraud on the court” that Allegra cited: “An ATF agent who testified in this case may have been threatened by another witness during the trial.” Justice Department attorneys ordered the agent not to report the threat to the court or he would face repercussions, Allegra said.