SPRINGFIELD, MASS. >> Factions. Squabbling. Fights in the bathroom.
A setting from a local high school? Sadly, no. They are scenes from the Springfield office of The Department of Homeland Security, according to documents made public in federal court.
A dispute between two employees renewed in U.S. District Court indicates members of the local office tasked with ensuring the nation's safety and securing its borders cannot even get along with each other. In one instance, an administrative worker obtained a harassment prevention order against an agent, prompting his ouster from the building but not the payroll.
Among a half-dozen federal agents and support staff in Springfield, dueling personnel complaints have been filed by employees against each other and a former supervisor, records show. An internal investigation of the office at 1550 Main Street is pending and one agent, William Hoyt, has been banned not only from the building — but the parking garage.
Hoyt, who spent 10 years with the Bellows Falls, Vt., Police Department, left Vermont in 2005 to take a job as a Border Patrol agent with the federal Homeland Security Department along the border between Arizona and Mexico. Hoyt, now 47, was Keith Clark's second-in-command and managed the department's personnel and oversaw major investigations and crime scenes while also working with the Southern Vermont Drug Task Force. Clark is now the Windham County Sheriff.
In 2014, Hoyt was recognized by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine for his contribution to an investigation that nailed Wade Hoover, a former karate instructor convicted of sexually assaulting two of his young students and recording the crimes, according to the Bangor Daily News.
Former supervisory Agent Timothy Gaynor — who in emails to his higher-ups likened his job to managing unruly, insubordinate adolescents — was transferred from the Springfield office in recent weeks. Gaynor also was under investigation by the Office of Inspector General for a number of personnel complaints while meting out discipline to his staff, according to internal documents. It is unclear from the court records where that investigation stands.
A request for comment from the Department of Homeland Security is pending, as is a request for comment from Hoyt's attorney and from plaintiff Valorie Macy. She is a Mission Support Specialist in the Springfield office who alleges Hoyt harassed and threatened her. Hoyt denies this.
The office appears to remain in disarray from a personnel standpoint, judging from a recent internal memo obtained by The Republican.
"Will, As we discussed you are permanently assigned to the FBl (Joint Terrorism Task Force), and will work 100 percent of the time out of their office space. If the need arises for you to go to the HSI Springfield office then you must contact and speak to RAC Gaynor or whatever subsequent supervisor is put in place. At no time are you to show up before, during or after hours to the office without first discussing with RAC Gaynor or subsequent supervisor," reads a Dec. 3 memo from a Homeland Security supervisor in Boston to Hoyt. "As we move forward with a number of issues out of the Springfield office we will revisit this, but for the foreseeable future this order is in place."
Hoyt also was barred from the parking garage off Bridge Street where the $41 billion taxpayer-funded agency rents spots for its employees, according to the email drafted by Supervisory Special Agent Bart J. Cahill.
"Until we can make other arrangements please park outside the office also. If you incur expenses let me know and they will be reimbursed," the memo concludes. "Any questions let me know."
An Assistant U.S. Attorney appointed to represent Hoyt in the matter noted in court pleadings that the memo by Cahill and other documents released by Macy were "unauthenticated."
At a time when national security seems most precarious and terror threats dominate international headlines, the intense focus on managing internal quarreling among a few employees in a small office in Western Massachusetts is troubling, at a minimum.
Macy sought and obtained a civil harassment protection order after a series of confrontations at the agency in 2014. That has since lapsed and Macy has twice petitioned federal judges to transfer the order to that court. Her second petition is pending after the first case was dismissed when the state court vacated the protection order.
Federal officials had the case moved to federal court, as all the allegations in Macy's petitions occurred in the workplace.
The protection order was granted after Macy alleged Hoyt made threats toward her in an elevator and while she was on her way to the women's bathroom at their office.
"You should have backed me up, Valorie," she quoted Hoyt as saying.
Hoyt and two other agents countered that it was Macy who threatened them in the elevator.
Other filings in the case indicate that the rancor between staff members peaked when Hoyt apparently filed a complaint with the Office of the Inspector General against Gaynor. The details of that complaint were not immediately available.
According to documents filed in connection with Macy's complaint, supervisors scrambled to find a suitable workplace compromise when she secured the protection order. They shuffled Hoyt to other agency task forces off-site, records state. They settled on letting him come into the Homeland Security office once per week — on Tuesdays — while Macy was working in the Hartford office.
In early 2015, Gaynor sent a disturbing memo entitled "Personnel Safety Concerns About RAC Springfield Office Environment" to a Homeland Security Department supervisor in Boston. It detailed several examples of alleged confrontations between Springfield employees in 2014.
He alleged Agent Gregory Boucher made hang-up or "heavy breathing" calls to Macy at the office in March of 2014 and they were flagged by caller ID.
He alleged that Hoyt became "physically aggressive" toward him and balled up his fists during a meeting the same month. "Based on my 16 years of law enforcement experience this is the first time I have encountered such behavior and considered this a personal threat," the memo noted.
He alleged that agents under his purview continued to be "insolent" and "defiant" and resisted investigative work.
He alleged Hoyt, and agents Ross Gazzaniga and Timothy Irving got into a fistfight in the men's room at the Homeland Security office in July of 2014.
Gaynor concluded that Boucher, Hoyt and Gazzaniga should be medically evaluated for their fitness to carry guns and should be placed on administrative leave. It doesn't appear that happened and it is unclear whether it was truly warranted.
At any rate, things continued to deteriorate between Macy and Hoyt, according to documents she filed with the court.
She alleges that on Dec. 1, Hoyt entered the office while she was there, and began screaming profanities at Gaynor about her. Then on Dec. 3, Macy said Hoyt came into the office with his wife, punched in the code to the firearms holding room and emerged with "an armful of automatic weapons."
"They went into his office. I heard clicking metal noises. I started dialing 911 and my boss. They heard me. She said 'we are leaving.' My boss told me to go into the office and lock the door," reads a second application Macy filed in Eastern Hampshire District Court for a restraining order on Dec. 9.
In other documents, Hoyt argued he only went to the office to collect a rifle for mandated firearms certification required by the agency. All parties seem to agree he never directly threatened Macy or brandished a weapon. However, the memo indefinitely barring him from the grounds altogether went out the same day.
Macy, who is representing herself in the legal dispute, filed a subsequent motion stating the experience terrified her so much she went temporarily blind and suspected that she suffered a stroke.
There are no hearings scheduled in the federal case.