WASHINGTON — The Justice Department agreed Wednesday to pay a $300,000 Privacy Act settlement to FBI crime lab whistle-blower Frederic Whitehurst, who alleged that the government spread false and derogatory information to discredit him.
The government also agreed to speed the release to Whitehurst of 180,000 pages of FBI lab reports by examiners whose work he had criticized. After his reinstatement from a yearlong paid suspension last month, Whitehurst resigned from the bureau to head a group that will critique the forensic work of the FBI and other agencies.
The Justice settlement is in addition to one Whitehurst got last month from the FBI. The FBI agreed to buy $1.166 million worth of annuities that will pay the 50-year-old chemist annual amounts equal to the salary and pension he would have earned had he worked until retiring at 57. The bureau also paid $258,580 in his legal fees.
The deal with Justice ends a suit in which Whitehurst claimed that, in retaliation for his whistle-blowing, FBI and Justice officials tried to discredit him by releasing damaging and false information about him, his medical condition, his wife, his fitness for duty and internal investigations of him.
The government did not admit any violations, but the $300,000 settlement is the largest ever for Privacy Act claims, which usually are settled for $5,000 or less, said Whitehurst attorney Stephen Kohn. But a Justice spokesman said it is not the largest Privacy Act settlement because, under an agreement not written into the settlement, more than $50,000 of the money was for Whitehurst's legal fees.