City FBI head promoted to anti-terrorism post

Bald transferred to D.C. after 14-month tenure

November 18, 2003|By Reginald Fields | Reginald Fields,SUN STAFF

Gary M. Bald, head of the FBI's Baltimore office for the past 14 months, has been promoted to the agency's third-highest anti-terrorism post at headquarters in Washington.

Jennifer Smith Love, one of Bald's assistants, has been named acting special agent in charge in Baltimore until a permanent replacement is found.

Bald, a 26-year FBI veteran, started his new job yesterday as inspector-deputy assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division. He was appointed Thursday.

"It's one of those things when the director calls, you're here," Bald said, reflecting on how quickly the change in jobs occurred. "I've thoroughly enjoyed being in Baltimore and would be happy still being there today."

Bald, an Annapolis area native, will be in charge of international and domestic anti-terrorism operations.

His tenure in Baltimore was short but memorable: Four days into his Baltimore assignment, he joined a team of law enforcement officers investigating the Washington-area sniper shootings.

Bald, 49, later directed the team of FBI agents who arrested sniper suspects John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo sleeping in their car at a Maryland Interstate rest stop. Muhammad was found guilty yesterday of all counts. Malvo is on trial in Virginia.

From there, Bald began shifting the Baltimore office's criminal focus fully toward anti-terrorism to match the post-9/11 mission of the FBI.

He restructured the Baltimore office's joint terrorism task force by adding more supervisors, including two state police lieutenants, to improve intelligence and strengthen a threat response team.

He soon learned his efforts, however, had drawn him an unlikely critic in U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio, whose office prosecutes cases investigated by law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.

DiBiagio wrote Bald a scathing letter in January labeling the local FBI office as a "marginal presence, at best." The U.S. attorney wrote that the FBI had become "distracted and almost useless" because of its counterterrorism efforts. "I know that he [DiBiagio] was concerned and frustrated with the resources dedicated to terrorism matters, but I think he fully understands our mission," Bald said.

Bald, an FBI agent since 1977, has worked in offices in Albany, N.Y., Philadelphia, Newark, N.J., and Atlanta.

Bald's departure continues the frequent turnover at the Baltimore office, which oversees investigations in Maryland and Delaware. The next Baltimore special agent in charge will be the eighth in 13 years.

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