A retired assistant director of the FBI who once headed the bureau’s Boston office was charged in federal court Thursday with a criminal ethics violation in having professional, work-related contacts with his former colleagues within a year of leaving his public job.
Kenneth Kaiser, 57, of Hopkinton, a 27-year veteran of the FBI who left to work as a consultant, faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine on a charge of making prohibited postemployment contacts, a misdemeanor. He has not yet appeared in court.
Federal prosecutors say that Kaiser began working as a consultant for the Beverly-based company LocatePlus, which sells investigative databases, on July 3, 2009, the same day that he retired from the FBI. A former supervisor of white-collar crime investigations, he was asked to conduct an internal investigation into wrongdoing by two of LocatePlus’s former executives. He was also hired to help the company increase sales.
Beginning 17 days later, according to court records filed in his case and a related trial, Kaiser began communicating and meeting with FBI agents in Boston, as well as a federal prosecutor, pushing for charges to be filed against the two former executives and to have LocatePlus listed as a victim, which would help the company’s public image.
Within a year of his retirement, Kaiser also had prohibited contacts with FBI employees to gauge the bureau’s interest in LocatePlus’s products and services, in an attempt to generate sales, prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, Kaiser had “additional improper contacts” with the FBI’s Boston office in August 2009 on behalf of a client, a corporate executive from Gloucester who had received a threatening letter.
In March 2010, Kaiser became a full-time employee of LocatePlus, holding the title director of government sales.
Kaiser’s attorney, Anthony Fuller of Collora LLP, would only say in a statement that his client “has been charged with a misdemeanor violation of the ethics restrictions.”
“It should be noted that the government does not allege any criminal intent on his part,” he said.
Kaiser was a special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston office from 2003 to 2006. He said at the time of his leaving that he had worked to better the bureau’s image and rebuild partnerships with other law enforcement agencies following the James “Whitey” Bulger scandal.
The bureau launched a number of high-profile cases during his tenure, including a probe into corruption on the Big Dig project, an operation that led to the indictment of three Boston police officers on drug-trafficking charges, and the indictment of Abdullah Khadr, a Canadian national and alleged Al Qaeda operative.
Kaiser left to become assistant director at FBI headquarters in Washington, overseeing the Inspection Division and, later, the Criminal Investigative Division, until his retirement in 2009.
According to prosecutors, Kaiser attended yearly ethics classes and knew he was a senior executive branch employee who was prohibited from making professional contact with his former agency for a year after leaving the post.
The allegations against Kaiser were raised in a federal criminal case involving the two former executives of LocatePlus he helped investigate. Jon Latorella, the company’s former chief executive, was sentenced in 2012 to five years in prison, and James Fields, former chief financial officer, was sentenced earlier this year to five years in prison. They were both indicted in November 2010.
As part of the case, a lawyer for Fields sought to have evidence in the case excluded from trial, based on Kaiser’s relationship with the FBI while working on behalf of LocatePlus.
The lawyer, Barry Pollack of Boston, also alleged that one of the original prosecutors in the case had a conflict of interest.
The prosecutor, Victor Wild, had met with Kaiser when the agent was working on behalf of LocatePlus. Also, Pollack alleged, Wild had a business relationship with outside lawyers who had also at one point worked on behalf of LocatePlus.
Pollack questioned whether Wild properly disclosed his work on behalf of others.
Wild was never charged.
Christina Diorio-Sterling, spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office in Boston, said in a statement that “Mr. Pollack raised these allegations about Wild with the Department of Justice in Washington, which investigated them and determined that the allegations lacked factual support and were without merit.”