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COMMENTARY: Has the FBI become a telemarketing firm for the trial lawyers?

J.P. Hyan is a longtime friend of mine. I’d trust him with my life. He is a former 20-year veteran of a Southern California law enforcement agency and leader for a SWAT team. After retiring, J.P. spent almost 20 years as an investment manager for large institutional clients.

He is a man who defines trust.

Sadly, J.P. lost his nephew-in-law in the Las Vegas mass shooting last month. His nephew was shot in the torso standing next to his wife. That left J.P.’s niece a widow with three children and no income. His niece spent a lot of time meeting with FBI agents — as a witness and a victim.

That’s what makes this story so shocking and outrageous. Is it possible that the FBI uses the trust and bond formed with victims of violent crime and even mass murder to sign them up as clients for private law firms?

Here’s the story.

J.P.’s niece was contacted by a FBI “victim specialist” a week after the Vegas tragedy — at the worst and most fragile moment of her life. The “victim specialist” identified herself as an employee of the FBI and said her goal was to help victims such as J.P.’s niece receive the money “she needs and deserves.” She asked this grieving widow to sign a form and send it back to get the process started quickly.

The form was a contract to join a class-action lawsuit against MGM and Mandalay Bay. Worst of all, it was a contract with two private law firms. I’ve seen the contract the FBI sent to this widow.

J.P. Hyan called the Los Angeles FBI office about this. The FBI “agent on duty” said he saw nothing wrong with such activity. He strongly suggested J.P. have his niece speak only to the FBI “victim specialist.”

When I contacted the FBI, I was referred to the agency’s national press office, which issued a statement: “The FBI Victim Services Division provides crisis intervention services to victims and families as well as information and referrals for a range of assistance to help them cope with the impact of a mass casualty event.”

It goes on to say, “Families who have lost a loved one to violent and sudden death often need referrals to public and private legal services to assist with life insurance, guardianship, wills and probate issues, and estate and tax planning. The referrals … do not encompass information on class-action lawsuits initiated by private attorneys.”

In this case, however, it appears the FBI did indeed become involved in a class-action lawsuit referral. This is shocking and repulsive on many levels.

First, state bar regulations prevent private law firms from directly soliciting victims of a crime like this. Lawyers can advertise, but they cannot directly contact a victim of crime. They can be disbarred for doing so. How, then, can a trusted government law enforcement agency be engaged in this practice?

Second, how do you feel about a government agency drumming up clients for a private law firm?

Third, does the FBI have a contract with these private law firms? If so, what does the FBI receive for referring clients who will likely each be awarded multimillion-dollar settlements?

Fourth, do top FBI officials know that their employees are soliciting victims of crime and tragedy for private law firms looking to file class-action lawsuits?

Fifth, does this routinely happen for every crime victim in the hands of the FBI? If so, this could be a billion-dollar scam. Has the FBI become a telemarketing firm for ambulance chasers?

Sixth, is this not a massive violation of trust when it comes to crime victims?

Former assistant FBI director James Kallstron told me that “it is not proper for the FBI to direct victims to for-profit law firms. I hope that this is a situation brought about by staff that is not trained properly. In any case, the FBI should immediately conduct an investigation and correct this situation.”

He’s right.

Common sense tells me this is about corruption and greed. It’s time for the government to investigate and address this obscene scandal.

Contact Wayne Allyn Root at Wayne@ROOTforAmerica.com. Hear and watch the nationally syndicated “WAR Now: The Wayne Allyn Root Show” from 3 to 6 p.m. daily at 790 Talk Now and at 5 p.m. on Newsmax TV.

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