WASHINGTON – A discredited ex-FBI agent is reported to have been hired back by the agency, despite his “unreliable” testimony that helped put away defendants who were later found to be innocent.
In 1999, former forensics expert Michael Malone retired from the FBI, where he had specialized in hair and fiber analysis.
His retirement came two years after an inspector general’s report found that he had reportedly falsely testified in a criminal case. He was never disciplined, and retired with a pension.
However, a review conducted by the Justice Department’s Inspector General found that Malone had been performing background check investigations for the FBI since 2002, and was an “active contract employee of the FBI.”
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Malone was indirectly on the FBI payroll as recently as two months ago. When the IG raised the issue with the FBI, the agency reported back that Malone’s “association with the FBI was terminated” as of June 17.
His work has now come under heavy scrutiny by investigators. Notably, he was involved in a case that sent former DC resident Donald Gates to prison for 28 years for a murder he didn’t commit.
In the Gates trial, Malone testified that one of Gates’ hairs scientifically matched one found on the body of a 21-year-old victim. DNA evidence later proved him to be wrong.
In his report, which was released last week, the IG wrote that “Malone’s faulty analysis and scientifically unsupportable testimony contributed to the conviction of an innocent defendant,” in addition to at least five other convictions that were later reversed.
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In fact, independent scientists found that 96 percent of Malone’s caseloads were “problematic” for reasons such as making statements that “had no scientific basis.”
“It’s absolutely unbelievable considering what the FBI knows about this individual that he’s been allowed to continue as an FBI contractor” said whistleblower and former top FBI explosives expert Fred Whitehurst.
Malone has denied any wrongdoing. Attempts to contact him last week were unsuccessful.