Judge Henry Hudson can’t hide from his past; Congress will have a field day if Trump nominates him to run FBI

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Sheriff John Isom in uniform and Herb Bryant in the suit in 1992. (Public Domain). 

U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson who is one of several individuals being considered for the position of FBI Director, came under scrutiny by the Department of Justice in 1992 when he was Director of the US Marshals Service.

The DOJ at the time was investigating the Marshals Service’s ties to a wealthy Virginia man who had Special Deputy U.S. Marshal status.

J.C. Herbert Bryant, Jr. of Middleburg, had been a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal for seven years because of his affiliation with a private police group called ARGUS, an acronym for The Armored Response Group United States, according to court records.

Bryant and then Sheriff of Loudoun County John Isom founded the organization.

The group was formed to reportedly provide armored vehicles to law enforcement agencies. Although Bryant, a private citizen was a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal he operated without any federal oversight, which is contrary to the federal law governing the Director of the Marshals Service’s authority to grant that status.

Bryant also was the president of the Marshals Foundation, a nonprofit corporation based in Virginia that promoted the Marshals Service. Bryant financed the foundation.

ARGUS was registered as a nonprofit corporation with the Virginia Secretary of State.

Bryant also was a heavy financial contributor to the campaigns of Sheriff Isom. He also pumped more than $230,000 of family money into ARGUS to purchase several pieces of police equipment including an armored personnel carrier called a “ferret,” that was purchased with help from then Sen. John W. Warner (R-VA), according to court records.

Bryant, who at various times called himself a colonel and a general paraded around Loudoun County, Virginia for years sporting a sidearm on his hip and drove around in an unmarked police vehicle with Mississippi Sheriff license plates, that had a police radio with Loudoun County, Virginia Sheriff’s Department frequencies.

With his status as a Special Deputy United States Marshal, Bryant then designed his own police uniform complete with a badge and shoulder patch that read “POLICE ARGUS.”

Bryant went even further with his status as a Special Deputy Marshal when a female showed up in Loudoun County wearing the same uniform as Bryant, with the exception that she had sergeant stripes on her arm. Whether she too had any status with the Marshals Service was never known, but then the question was if not, then how could she wear the police uniform of ARGUS, and carry a weapon.

ARGUS at the time had an office on the second floor of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Substation in Sterling, Va.

Never having enough toys to parade around with, the self-proclaimed “General Bryant” purchased a Harley Davidson police motorcycle and adorned it with the police insignia of ARGUS. He drove it in uniform to a funeral for a fallen Alexandria, Va. police officer. I know that because I was there as a member of the Sheriff’s Motor Squad.

In 1992 Brett Phillips, then founder and editor of the Leesburg Today newspaper started asking questions about who was Bryant, what was ARGUS and why he had been driving around for years in Virginia in an unmarked police vehicle that bore Mississippi Sheriff license plates.

Leesburg Today published some stories on ARGUS that sparked the local Washington Post reporter assigned to Loudoun County to get involved.

The Virginia State Police were also inquiring about Bryant. Several troopers had encounters with Bryant over the years and Bryant would identify himself as a US Marshal.

As for Bryant’s unmarked police cruiser, Bryant got his hands on a new police car by putting up the cash so the sheriff of Warren County, Mississippi where Bryant’s family had a large estate, could purchase the car and then title it over to Bryant, who had told the sheriff he was a Special Deputy Marshal. Bryant told the sheriff he needed the car to patrol the family estate. Instead Bryant brought the car to Loudoun County, Virginia, and in effect it became the first vehicle in the ARGUS fleet.

With the onslaught of inquiry from the Leesburg Today and Washington Post and their subsequent stories, officials were getting nervous.

Because of the embarrassment that this was causing, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in June 1992 told Loudoun Sheriff John Isom to sever the County ties with ARGUS.

It was also causing embarrassment for the US Marshals Service whom Henry Hudson had served as Director from 1992 to 1993.

According to court documents, then Director of the US Marshals Service, Henry Hudson wrote to Bryant advising him to send Hudson a letter asking not to be reappointed, which Bryant did. Bryant’s appointment expired on June 30, 1992.

However, that was not the end of the story of Bryant, or problems for Hudson.

Judge Henry Hudson at William and Mary Law School.

On Sept. 2, 1992, Bryant, a Virginia resident, drove his truck into the District of Columbia and parked it near the entrance to the Mayflower Hotel, which was hosting at the time, an Israeli diplomatic delegation. In the front window of the truck was a placard bearing the words, “United States Marshal.” In the rear compartment, clearly visible from the outside, were six firearms: three 9mm Beretta pistols, a .44 caliber magnum revolver and a .22 caliber derringer.

According to court records, the truck caught the attention of several government officials, including two US Diplomatic Security Service Agents and two officers of the Metropolitan Police Department.

When Bryant returned to his truck, he was questioned about the weapons and his identity. Bryant stated he had left the firearms in his truck after target practice at a Northern Virginia firing range. According to the officers at the scene Bryant identified himself as a Warren County, Mississippi deputy sheriff, and reportedly produced a badge and identification card.

In later testimony in court, DSS Agent Mark Concord, stated that Bryant also identified himself as a “Special Deputy United States Marshal.”

The MPD officers on the scene contacted the District of Columbia U.S. Marshal’s office to ascertain Bryant’s status. Robert Williamson, a supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal arrived at the scene. Williamson later testified in court that he also heard Bryant identify himself as a “Special Deputy U.S. Marshal.” In addition, both Williamson and MPD Officer Anthony Suarez testified that Bryant claimed he had left his Marshals Service credentials in a briefcase at home.

While Bryant was being detained outside the Mayflower Hotel, Herbert M. Rutherford who was the U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia, contacted the U.S. Marshals headquarters in Virginia and attempted to ascertain Bryant’s status, with negative results.

As a result, Rutherford arranged with the consent of the MPD officers, for Bryant and his truck to be brought to the District of Columbia Marshals Service office. Bryant was interviewed and subsequently released, but they retained his truck and weapons.

Rutherford would later testify that from the moment he found out that Bryant was being detained he thought the, “situation would prove to be sticky for the United States Marshals Service” and that fear of press coverage was one reason he did not go to the scene himself.

According to court records when Rutherford called headquarters to find out Bryant’s status so as to decide how to handle the situation at the Mayflower, he initially did not try to reach then Deputy Director of the U.S. Marshals Service, John Twomey, whom he knew to be in charge of the Special Deputy program, but instead tried to reach then Director Hudson directly because he did not think Twomey looked out for the “best interest” of Hudson. Only after his unsuccessful attempt to talk to Hudson, did Rutherford call Twomey, who supposedly told him that he didn’t know Bryant’s status.

Hudson would later testify that no one at the time of the incident reported to him that Bryant had represented himself to be a Special Deputy or Deputy U.S. Marshal.

It was later determined that Bryant had no official position with the U.S. Marshals Service at the time of the incident.

Deputy Director John Twomey later told the MPD that Bryant was allowed to go free because he “was neither a criminal nor a terrorist.”

After the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department found out that Bryant had no status with the U.S. Marshals Service at the time of the incident and that they were told that Bryant was released by the Marshals Service they went to the US Attorney’s Office.

Bryant at one time was given an award by the Marshals’ Association at a dinner in Los Angeles that was attended by Hudson.

On June 14, 1994 Bryant was indicted on three counts: (1) did falsely assume and pretend to be a Special Deputy United States Marshal and in such pretended character, demanded and obtained that he not be arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department for possessing and carrying weapons in the District of Columbia; (2) did carry, openly, and concealed on or about his person, pistols, without a license issued as provided by law; (3) in a matter within the jurisdiction of a department and agency of the United States, to wit, the US Marshals Service, did knowingly make a false and fraudulent statement.”

In October 1994 Bryant was convicted on counts 1 and 3 and acquitted on count 2. Bryant filed an appeal in 1997 however the court upheld the convictions.

After completing their investigation in 1992 the Justice Department concluded that the U.S. Marshals Service did not have sufficient reason to grant special deputy status to Bryant, stating that Marshals Service officials had made “serious misjudgments” when they gave Bryant a badge and arrest authority.

On Dec. 2,1992, a senior Marshals service official stated that the USMS was embarrassed by its ties to Bryant and the role that they played in the Mayflower incident.

Vicki Weaver as seen from a USMS surveillance position on August 21, 1992. (Wikipedia)

Hudson also came under scrutiny for his involvement in the Ruby Ridge Incident that began in August 1992. According to an ESPN article, “His leadership of the Marshals Service included early decisions in the attempt to arrest Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, the greatest disaster in the history of federal law enforcement, a fiasco that led to a grand jury investigation in which Hudson was called to testify and led to misconduct charges against 12 federal agents.”

According to a Congressional report on the Ruby Ridge incident, “based on his desire to avoid creating discoverable documents that might be used by the defense in the Weaver/Harris trial and his understanding that the FBI would conduct a comprehensive investigation of the incident, Hudson decided to conduct no formal review of Marshal Service activities connected with the Weaver case and the Ruby Ridge incident.”

Hudson also is the judge who ruled Obamacare to be unconstitutional and owns a piece of a GOP consulting firm – Campaign Solutions, which lobbied hard against health care reform.

If President Trump nominates Hudson  to be next FBI director, Congress will have a lot of questions that the judge might have a hard time answering.