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Thread: Los Alamos Whistleblower Beaten Up

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Los Alamos Whistleblower Beaten Up

    Los Alamos whistleblower beaten up
    Police, FBI investigating attack

    Tommy Hook, a whistleblower at Los Alamos National Laboratory, is seen in a Santa Fe, N.M., hospital on Sunday, after being beaten up by a group of men outside a bar, an attack his wife and lawyer believe was designed to keep him quiet.

    The Associated Press
    Updated: 9:21 a.m. ET June 7, 2005

    SANTA FE, N.M. - A Los Alamos lab whistleblower scheduled to testify before Congress about alleged financial irregularities was badly beaten outside a bar — an attack his wife and lawyer believe was designed to silence him.

    Police and the FBI said that they were investigating the circumstances of the incident which, according to his wife, left Tommy Hook hospitalized Monday with a broken jaw and other injuries.

    Police Deputy Chief Eric Johnson said officers found Hook after responding to a reported assault at the Cheeks Night Club about 2 a.m. Sunday. He provided few other details.

    “We are working jointly with the FBI, trying to determine what may have happened and what the assault may have stemmed from,” Johnson said. FBI spokesman Bill Elwell described the agency’s inquiry as preliminary.

    Hook’s wife, Susan, alleged the assailants told her husband during the attack: “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll keep your mouth shut.”

    Tommy Hook and another whistleblower sued the University of California in March, alleging that after they uncovered management failures, university and lab managers tried to make their jobs miserable so they would quit.

    Hook, a former internal auditor who now works at another job at the lab, had been scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee later this month.

    Left for dead
    According to Susan Hook, her husband received a call late Saturday from someone wanting to meet with him at a bar. She said her husband told her the man never showed up, but that as he was leaving the parking lot, a group of men pulled him from his car and beat him.

    “They left him in the parking lot for dead,” said Tommy Hook’s lawyer, Robert Rothstein.

    Rothstein said the assailants didn’t take Hook’s wallet, other personal belongings or car. Without any other motive, it appears the beating was related to his whistleblowing, Rothstein contended.

    Susan Hook said her husband did not frequent bars.

    Los Alamos lab spokesman Kevin Roark called the beating a “senseless and brutal act and should not be tolerated.”

    The lab and UC also issued a joint statement decrying the violence. “Director (Robert) Kuckuck, the University of California and the laboratory believe that any form of physical violence toward an individual is unacceptable,” the statement read.

    Hook had been voicing complains about lab management for years. He testified in a 1997 deposition that the chief of the lab’s audit division “didn’t want to see certain things put in reports,” including “unallowable costs” and “embarrassment to the university.”

    © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Official: Los Alamos Managers Wanted Fraud Report Held

    by Adam Rankin, Saturday, October 16, 2004

    Top Los Alamos National Laboratory managers tried to quash the release of a highly critical internal report highlighting procurement fraud and financial waste, generated in response to congressional inquiries in 2003, according to testimony from a lab whistle-blower. For years, LANL's Tommy Hook, a former senior adviser for audits in the lab's Internal Evaluation Office, said he remained loyal to the weapons research facility where he has worked for 23 years. Then he realized that mechanisms for raising concerns and for protecting workers against management retaliation for speaking out are broken. "It just got to the point where we weren't going to let this go," he said after testifying Friday to the Legislature's Los Alamos National Laboratory Oversight Committee.

    LANL officials contest the claim and say their whistle-blower procedures in place work well. "The bottom line is... retaliation against whistle-blowers is not tolerated," said LANL spokesman James Rickman. Hook said he was assigned by top lab managers to review procurement procedures after a high-level lab manager in 2003 promised Congress a report on LANL financial problems uncovered in internal and external reviews.

    UC and LANL were forced to undergo a series of congressional hearings in 2003 over weaknesses in the laboratory's financial controls that left it susceptible to fraud and waste, according to the reviews. The 12 reports Hook helped prepare and a final Fiscal Year 2003 Procurement Self-Assessment Report "found many more problems than they (lab managers) ever expected," he said, and "we were basically told not to report them." Laboratory officials deny the accusation and say the report was released to federal officials well before the end of 2003. "His claim that they didn't want it out is totally wrong because they did want it out and it is out," Rickman said. "(The National Nuclear Security Administration) has a copy of that report and I guess (Department of Energy) headquarters also has a copy of that report," Rickman said. Chris Harrington, a spokesman for the University of California, which manages LANL for the Energy Department, said university officials are aware of the whistle-blower complaints.

    "The University of California is conducting an independent review of the whistle-blower complaints and I cannot comment further on that review," he said. LANL managers had agreed to report whatever the findings were to the DOE, which oversees LANL, Hook said. In the end, he said he wasn't allowed to, so he sought federal whistle-blower protection. "I cannot, in good conscience, stand idly by any longer while (the University of California) management makes misleading public representations with no recourse," Hook told the committee.

    "This is a very sad day for me personally," Hook said, because he said he tried to resolve his differences internally with laboratory and UC management for close to a year with no success. Hook was pressed on several occasions by the Journal in 2002 and 2003 to come forward publicly with information he said at the time showed extensive financial waste and abuse, dating back years. He repeatedly declined, saying he had faith that he would be able to resolve any problems with the laboratory internally.

    Hook and longtime laboratory employee and critic Chuck Montaño came before the state oversight committee asking the committee to press for congressional hearings on whistle-blower retaliation and abuse at the laboratory. Montaño, a 26-year lab employee and certified auditor, testified to the committee on behalf of the Hispanic Round Table, which has been fighting the laboratory over what it considers inequity in pay involving the laboratory's minority workers. Montaño said LANL managers retaliated against him for speaking out by not assigning him any work for nine months. Hook said he had no work for six months.

    Before their testimony, LANL's Rich Marquez, associate director for administration, told the committee that the laboratory and its director, Pete Nanos, remain committed to solving any inequities in pay, however long it takes. He reported that in the last year, LANL has spent $1.75 million to adjust the salaries of 792 employees using a statistical review of pay that showed some Hispanics and female workers were paid less than their white male counterparts. Marquez, who also handles LANL's whistle-blower complaints, told the committee that pay adjustments, after two fixes, ranged from $1 to $10,000.

    Asked by committee member and state Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-San Juan Pueblo, about whistle-blower complaints, Marquez said about 80 cases have been reported, 43 of which are still active. He said employees have a number of options for reporting anonymous complaints, most of which get resolved, but that there is "an element of the population who just don't trust the process."

    The committee co-chairs, Rep. Roberto J. Gonzales, D-Taos, and Sen. Phil A. Griego, D-San Jose, said they don't have enough evidence to ask Congress for a public hearing, but they are willing to take testimony from lab whistle-blowers at its next meeting, scheduled in mid-December. "I am not opposed to it, but I don't think we have enough to go forward with a formal hearing," Griego said. Gonzales agreed that "we are a little premature."

    Originally published by the Albuquerque Journal.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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