The Investigation: Thorton “Thorry” Smith, Part One
Thorry Smith worked as a wildlife tech for AZGFD. He was fired March 2010 because he admitted in AZGFD’s internal investigation, which granted him immunity under the Garrity Warning, that he lied to federal officers, engaged in a cover-up with McCain about the use of jaguar scat in the snaring area, and for talking about the investigation with McCain despite the gag order AZGFD had issued to their employees about the case.
The AZ U.S. Attorney’s Office was considering charging Smith with two felony counts because during two, separate interviews with the USFWS Special Agents (SAs) he did “knowingly and willfully make a false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations, or make a false writing or document knowing the same to contain false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or entry, all in violation of and unlawful under the laws of the United States…”
Interestingly, the AZ U.S. Attorneys Office never considered charging Smith with the following:
1. “Take” of an endangered species without lawful permit or authority in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Smith did “take” the endangered jaguar known as Macho B when he knowingly attempted to trap, capture, and collect him. In fact, Michelle Crabb did too, and also wasn’t charged with this ESA violation. (The AZ US Attorneys Office had determined that Macho B was trapped without the proper permits or authority)
2. Conspiracy to “take” an endangered species, which again, he and Crabb did by re-activating snares in jaguar habitat with knowledge of Macho B’s presence; building and setting a new snare trap by Macho B’s tracks; preparing for a jaguar capture by obtaining proper drugs and equipment; and not alerting their supervisors to Macho B’s presence on the trap line despite knowing their supervisors did not want a jaguar snared and had said, “this is not a jaguar project.” And in Smith’s case, knowing jaguar scat was used in the snaring area.
Smith had admitted to AZGFD, under immunity, that he and McCain and conspired to cover up the use of jaguar scat in the snaring area, but the US Attorneys Office and the USFWS SAs could have gotten that information from McCain during any one of his “use immunity” interviews. But the AZ U.S. Attorney Office also granted Smith “use immunity” so he admitted that conspiracy under the safety of immunity and therefor, couldn’t be charged with obstruction of justice, or tampering with evidence, or any other laws that he broke. That was nicely played by Smith and his lawyer, he got immunity wherever he went.
It was also very kind and generous of the AZ U.S. Attorneys Office not to charge Smith with any legal violations. According to the Assistant U.S. Attorney’s notes on the criminal declination record for this case, Smith’s “termination of employment” with AZGFD seemed to satisfy their definition of justice, as well as, the USFWS’ since they agreed with the decision.
I suppose if you’re going to break the law it is best to be a U.S. government employee. They seem to get immunity no matter what and are held to a different, almost non-existent, legal standard than the average private citizen of this country.