Rebecca Wellington's DEA file

Lael Henterly filed this request with the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States of America.
Tracking # 13-00560-F
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Appeal

Communications

From: Lael Henterly

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Any DEA files regarding a deceased individual named Rebecca R Wellington, particularly her personal file.

Proof of death can be found at this link to the Seattle Post Intelligencer's obituary archive: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/obits/article/King-County-deaths-5-18-2012-3568546.php

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Lael Henterly

From: Drug Enforcement Administration

A fix is required to perfect the requesfix is required to perfect the request.

From: Lael Henterly

I mailed the requested documents (proof of death) to the specified address September 9, 2013. Please let me know upon receipt if the included documents are sufficient or if a further fix is necessary.

Thanks for your time, I look forward to your response!

Sincerely,
Lael Henterly

From: Lael Henterly

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the Freedom of Information request I submitted to your office August 14, 2013. Your office assigned the request the case number 13-00560-F. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Chasten, Cynthia

Good Morning,

My name is Cynthia and I'm working on the above FOIA request. A request for the file has been forwarded to our record center, once received your request will be prepared for all releasable information. I do apologize for any inconvenience.

From: Lael Henterly

Hi Cynthia,

Do you happen to have an estimated date of completion for my records request?

Thanks,
Lael Henterly

From: Chasten, Cynthia

Good Morning, I do apologize for the inconvenience, as soon as the file is delivery I will complete your request. Again I do apologize.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Aug. 14, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #13-00560-F.

Thank you for your help.

From: Chasten, Cynthia

Good Morning, I do apologize for the delay. I will send you an e-mail as soon as the request is completed.
Thanks!

Cynthia Chasten, SARF
DEA Headquarters
8701 Morrissette Drive
Springfield, VA 22152-1080
202-307-7615
FAX 202-307-8556

From: Drug Enforcement Administration

A cover letter granting the request and outlining any exempted materials, if any.

From: Drug Enforcement Administration

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Aug. 14, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #13-00560-F.

Thank you for your help.

From: Chasten, Cynthia

Good Morning, This package was mailed out to you on December 18, 2013.

Cynthia Chasten, SARF
DEA Headquarters
8701 Morrissette Drive
Springfield, VA 22152-1080
202-307-7615
Fax 202-307-8556

From: Lael Henterly

Hi Cynthia,

I haven't received the package yet, what carrier did you use to ship it? Did they issue a tracking number or an estimated delivery date?

Thanks,
Lael Henterly

From: Chasten, Cynthia

Good Morning Ms. Henterly-

The package was sent certified mail and I have attached a copy of the certified green card.

Thanks
Cynthia (202) 307-7615

From: Lael Henterly

I am writing to appeal the extensive redactions (nine of the fourteen pages are completely blank) in the responsive documents to my record request for “Rebecca Wellington's DEA file”, assigned reference number #13-00560-F by your office. In this letter I will refute each exception sited by your office as a basis for redactions. I submitted a similar appeal via the eFOIA request portal, but it seems to be stuck in pending status, so I am resubmitting it via Muckrock.

In regards to Exception 7(C) I would argue that the subject of the request is deceased and therefore without substantial privacy interest. The informant (Mark King) who initiated the investigation that led to DEA’s contact with Miss Wellington has been revealed in a number of publically available documents making his identity no longer confidential and eliminating any privacy interest he might have in its disclosure. Release of documents would leave him no more at risk of media contact, retaliation or embarrassment than he currently would be based on available documents.

The DEA, SPD, HSI and other law enforcement officers involved in the case are also available in public documents associated with the civil and criminal cases. I see no basis for a claim that revealing their identities would place them at risk of, “harassment, intimidation, or physical harm”.

Miss Wellington died within days of her final interaction with DEA. Much mystery surrounds her death and activities during her final days, as reported by My Northwest in the following news story: http://mynorthwest.com/980/2392269/Mystery-surrounds-death-ruled-accidental-overdose. The public has a substantial interest in any information about Miss Wellington’s activity in the weeks leading up to her death. This interest outweighs the alleged privacy interest of individuals who’s association with this case have already been revealed in other publically available documents.

The public interest in information that might help understand the circumstances surrounding Miss Wellington’s death is clear and substantial. DEA Officer’s were actively seeking out Miss Wellington at her place of employment to ask questions related to ongoing criminal and civil proceedings against her boyfriend, Bernard Mustafa (Case numbers: C12-921RSL, CR12-122RSL, C12-921JLR, MS13 056). Her mysterious death within days of one such meeting (not revealed in the released documents) might shed light on whether DEA agents should have investigated her death, whether the DEA informant in the case (who had a substantial interest in suppressing information Miss Wellington may have been privy to) could have been involved in her death and whether DEA agents owed a duty of care to Miss Wellington. The public has a substantial interest in information relating to possible government misconduct in this case. At the very least, the DEA should have looked in to the death of a key source of information in an ongoing investigation, and the documents sought in this case will likely indicate whether that occurred.

Exception 7(D) is not valid because the Confidential Informant in the case (Mark King) has since been revealed in numerous publically available documents, so if he ever was promised confidentiality in the proceedings, that promise has already been broken.

It does not logically follow that release of information about this routine investigation would result in “circumvention of the law”. Without further explanation I would argue that Exception 7(E) is poorly applied here and does not outweigh public interest in the release of this information. Exemption 7(E) does not cover investigative techniques that are “routine” and “generally known to the public.”, such as the techniques discussed in the extensive documentation related to the case the DEA was speaking to Miss Wellington about.

Since the identities of the law enforcement agents involved in the case and the informant in the case have been clearly established in other publically available documents, Exception 7(F) is not relevant. Release of the requested documents would not physically endanger or put at risk the lives of any of these publically known parties. Redaction of just the names of these parties (as opposed to entire pages of content) would certainly be sufficient to protect the identities of any hitherto unknown individuals.

If exception J2 is being used to protect the identity of government confidential informant Mark King, then it is invalid as his name has already been released in numerous documents filed by DEA agent Jay Marconi in the cases against Bernard Mustafa (Case no, MS13 056) and Alexander Kosnicki (Case no. CV13-1002RAJ, CR12-0144RAJ). Since the DEA has already released the identity of the informant, this person’s identity is no longer confidential.

I hope that upon review DEA will realize that substantial public interest in this woman’s sudden and untimely death outweighs the DEA’s alleged interest in keeping these documents private. Thank you for your time, I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
Lael Henterly

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