Alex Constantine - July 19, 2008
ARRESTED IN CALIF. | Former Chicago FBI agent accused of murder plot
BY STEVE WARMBIR
July 17, 2008
A former Chicago FBI agent, who once investigated organized crime, was secretly recorded talking about murdering people and planning to rip off a drug courier in Orange County, Calif., according to a criminal complaint released Wednesday.
Vo Duong "Ben" Tran, 40, told a government informant secretly recording him that he had been a sports bookmaker and wanted to kill people across the country who owed him money, including a man from Redlands, Calif., who was in debt to him for more than $200,000.
'ALL MY HITS, THEY ARE CLEAN'
Former FBI Agent Vo Duong "Ben" Tran, secretly recorded on dealing with a debtor: "I want blood. I don't want to collect. I want blood ... I have to make sure it has to be done right because all my hits, they are clean."
"I want blood," Tran said, according to the government transcript. "I have to make sure it has to be done right because all my hits, they are clean."
The government informant records Tran cautioning him to be careful talking on cell phones. Tran allegedly discussed guns, silencers and bulletproof vests, as well as the perils of federal prison time as they planned the robbery. Tran wanted to know where the closest hospital was to the drug courier's house, as well as the closest police station.
Tran, a hypermuscular Vietnamese man, was arrested earlier this week in California and was being held without bond in a Santa Ana jail Wednesday on a conspiracy charge.
He started working for the FBI in 1992 and spent most of his time in the Chicago office until he was fired in 2003 after a series of alleged offenses, including admitting to trying to bribe a Vietnamese official when he traveled to the country, court records show. Tran has a federal lawsuit pending in Chicago in which he alleges the FBI discriminated against him.
Tran has been charged in two other criminal cases but beat both.
In 2004, he was found not guilty of impersonating a police officer. He was accused of knocking on the door of a Glenview home, carrying a gun and telling the people inside he was a FBI agent and their lives were in danger. Tran was on administrative leave at the time.
Also in 2004, he was charged with lying on paperwork that he was buying guns and silencers for his job as an FBI agent. The charges were dismissed after a federal judge found FBI agents conducted an improper search of Tran's home.
In the current case, Tran is accused of leading a robbery crew to rip off what he believed was a drug-money stash house containing more than $200,000. He didn't know a government informant was secretly recording him discussing his plans.
"If you do this," Tran allegedly said of the robbery, "you don't leave any witnesses."
At one point, Tran is recorded as saying his wife was expecting a baby, so he has to check to see if he can take part in the robbery.
Tran, now living in New Orleans, told the informant that he wanted to spend no more than three days in Orange County and be "in and out like a ghost, the longer you stay, people track you down."
An attorney for Tran could not be reached for comment.