An FBI official testified today that the head of the Los Angeles FBI office protected former agent and accused spy Richard Miller although he was “a bumbler” and “the FBI joke” because both were Mormons.
“I’d seen this happen with other Mormons and only Mormons,” said Bernardo (Matt) Perez, testifying outside the jury’s presence after a bitter legal dispute over his proposed testimony.
He said he recommended firing Miller in 1982, two years before he was arrested on espionage charges.
But Perez, who has since sued the FBI for discrimination, said Richard T. Bretzing, special agent in charge of the Los Angeles office, refused and instructed him not to put the request in writing.
“I wanted to fire Mr. Miller from the FBI, and Mr. Bretzing opposed it,” Perez said. He said Bretzing repeatedly told him to let P. Bryce Christensen, then Miller’s supervisor, handle it. Christensen is also a Mormon.
Perez is now special agent in charge of the FBI’s El Paso office.
“I objected and told Mr. Bretzing I was the personnel officer,” Perez recalled. “This was a serious matter, and Mr. Miller was working in sensitive areas. He said again, ‘Let Christensen handle it.’ ”
Perez said he told Bretzing of Miller’s poor performance.
“I had known (Miller) since 1965,” he said. “I told him that from my personal knowledge he was a bumbler. He was in all sorts of trouble. He was more than the office joke. He was the FBI joke. There were R. W. Miller stories throughout the FBI.”
“And what did Mr. Bretzing say?” asked defense attorney Stanley Greenberg.
“I don’t recall any reply,” Perez said.
Perez said he then confronted Miller in his office.
“I asked him why he was so grossly overweight. His appearance was slovenly. He was unkempt, dirty-looking. He was fat. He was wearing black-and-white-checked tennis shoes. I said, ‘What is wrong with you?’ ”
“He began talking to me like a child, saying, ‘I don’t know. I can’t get ahold of myself.’
“I had seen this act before,” Perez said.