Official in charge of undercover agents on commercial flights talks to CNN
He says he bought guns from employee under investigation, but says he did nothing wrong
Robert Bray is retiring from the Federal Air Marshal Service
The outgoing director of the Federal Air Marshal Service told CNN that he bought several guns from an employee under investigation over concerns he may have used his position to get free and discounted firearms.
But Robert Bray denied that he did anything wrong or that the probe is behind his decision to retire from the aviation security agency.
Bray said in a telephone interview that he bought four Sig Sauer handguns over a four- or five-year period through the air marshal service employee, a decision he now regrets because it has placed him under a cloud of suspicion.
“I’ve been in law enforcement for 39 years, 39 years. I’ve never had one allegation of misconduct,” Bray said.
He listed the purchases and said he believed he paid full price.
“I have nothing to hide. I’m not trying to hide anything,” Bray said.
A Transportation Security Administration source told CNN that an employee is under investigation for allegedly buying weapons at a discount and selling them to other employees.
TSA said the employee, Daniel Poulos, is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Bray, who previously served with the Secret Service on presidential protection details, said he bought the guns from Poulos.
The air marshal service, which places armed, undercover agents on commercial flights, is part of the TSA. Both are under the Homeland Security Department.
Allegations that Bray and other top air marshal service officials inappropriately purchased handguns through the agency’s point of contact with Sig Sauer have circulated in an anonymous email in recent months.
FoxNews.com, citing law enforcement and congressional sources, said Bray’s recently announced retirement, effective in June, is directly related to the investigation. It said Bray’s house was raided in December in connection with the ongoing probe.
But Bray and TSA spokesman David Castelveter told CNN that Bray’s house was not raided.
Bray said Fairfax County, Virginia, police came to his house following a December burglary during which his TSA-issued gun was stolen. People may have confused that police investigation with a raid, he said.
“I reported that to the Fairfax County Police Department. It was my service weapon. It was in my briefcase. It was locked. It was in a secure (place),” he said.
Castelveter said the TSA is aware of allegations that Bray improperly purchased handguns “and we’re looking into it.”
The matter is being investigated by the TSA’s Office of Inspections, he said.
“None of it has any basis in fact. It’s not true and it’s very disturbing to me,” he said of suggestions he may have done something wrong.
Bray said he purchased four guns from SIG Sauer through Poulos, who was then a FAMS supervisory agent in the training division.
“I did buy guns from Dan Poulos. I bought four guns. I believe I paid full market value for them. I wish I had not have done that, but that’s the process,” he said.
“Unfortunately that was standard procedure for a lot of law enforcement. He had the guns and I bought them from him,” he said.
“Do I wish I had never met the guy? Absolutely,” Bray said, asking and answering his own question.
Bray said that in April 2009 he purchased a SIG Sauer 220 ACP for $589.01; In September 2010, he purchased two SIG Sauer P250 ACPs for $428 and in October 2012, he purchased a SIG Sauer P220 ACP for $901.95. Bray said he has provided documentation to TSA investigators.
Asked if he paid full price, Bray answered “I believe I did.”
The cost of guns varies largely by model and accessories, so it was not immediately possible to determine the market value of the weapons.
Bray said he chose to buy the guns through Poulos because of the convenience.
Bray said he gave one gun to his son, traded one weapon that was not working properly for another weapon, and still has the remaining two guns.
On Thursday, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security asked the TSA for more details.
Rep. Richard Hudson, a North Carolina Republican, said he was concerned “the director’s recently announced retirement may be directly related to an investigation into these activities and that this information was withheld from the Committee on Homeland Security.”
“I am extremely concerned about recent allegations of unethical behavior involving firearms within the Federal Air Marshal Service, dating as far back as 2010,” Hudson said in a statement to CNN.
Bray said his retirement was timed so that he could spend the summer at his vacation home, and not because of the TSA investigation.
A federal air marshal supervisory agent, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there is a widespread belief that Bray is retiring because of the probe despite his protests to the contrary.
“He definitely is. That’s my opinion. There’s no way to prove it,” the agent said.
Bray got a vote of confidence from Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents rank-and-file air marshals.
“I respect him. We don’t always agree, but I respect him,” Adler said.
Adler said Bray discussed his desire to retire last year.
“It wasn’t a well-kept secret,” Adler said, adding that the timing was unfortunate.
“Bob’s not going to bow to pressure.”