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FBI Agent Accused in Efforts to Sell Stolen Heroin

June 05, 1994| from Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — An FBI agent has been accused of stealing and then trying to sell 100 pounds of uncut, high-quality heroin from the agency's evidence room.

Kenneth R. Withers, 33, was arrested Friday at his office. The seven-year veteran special agent was being held in federal prison. A bail hearing was scheduled for Tuesday.

"It's very difficult for us to arrest one of our own agents," said Bob Reutter, special agent in charge of the bureau's Philadelphia office.

The bureau conducted a two-month investigation into a supplier named "Salvatore," who contacted dealers through the mail and offered to front them large quantities of heroin in return for money to be mailed to postal boxes.

Withers, of Medford, N.J., turned out to be the supplier, and the drugs for sale were stolen from the bureau, authorities said. Withers asked dealers for $75,000 per kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, the FBI said.

Experts identified Withers' handwriting on application forms for the post office boxes and found his fingerprints on FBI documents relating to its investigation, the bureau said.

Withers took the heroin between January and March and replaced it with sodium bicarbonate, Reutter said.

His letters to dealers even contained one-ounce free samples of one batch seized from a Pakistani dealer, authorities said.

Reutter said some of the missing heroin was recovered from the basement of one of Withers' relatives in Kentucky, but he could not say how much had been sold.

Withers faces a mandatory 10-year prison term and a maximum life term if convicted of distributing and conspiring to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin.

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