Metro Weekly

US marshal claims he was fired for defending lesbian deputy who was being harassed

Bobby Ledogar says he was targeted by various investigations alleging wrongdoing after standing up for victim of bullying and harassment.

marshals
Photo by Shane T. McCoy / US Marshals

A U.S. marshal claims he was fired — and thus denied his full retirement benefits — for defending a lesbian deputy who was being relentlessly harassed by her fellow marshals.

Bobby Ledogar, a former Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of New York, says that the U.S. Marshals Service launched four internal affairs investigations against him, one of which led to his termination just 70 days away from retirement. Now, he’s appealing his termination and is hoping to recoup his pension, claiming he was fired in retaliation for standing up for the deputy in question, U.S. Marshal Dawn Mahoney.

Ledogar, a 51-year-old Navy veteran, who served in the Gulf War, had been employed by the U.S. Marshals Service since 1995, most recently working in Brooklyn and Central Islip federal courts. But despite receiving 166 letters of support from colleagues and managers, the agency fired him, accusing him of conduct unbecoming a supervisory deputy U.S. marshal, lack of candor, misuse of position, and misuse of a government property IT device — a charge relating to photos on his government phone of a fugitive model’s Playboy spread as part of a case he was working on, reports The Daily Beast.

Ledogar questions the timings of the various investigations into his time with the agency, which came after he informed his superiors of the poor treatment that Mahoney had been receiving on the job and pressed for an internal investigation into her allegations.

Mahoney, a lesbian Army vet, claimed that she was being harassed by several male colleagues at the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force during the summer of 2015. According to documents obtained by The Daily Beast, Mahoney claimed her relationship with her fellow task force members began to deteriorate in 2014 after she was promoted to team leader. Although she eventually resigned from her leadership position due to members openly disrespecting her, the harassment continued even after she returned as a rank-and-file member of the task force.

As examples of the harassment she received, Mahoney claimed that someone at the agency’s Central Islip office urinated in a cookie jar on her desk. In another incident, a task force member allegedly gazed at her body and said, “Look at you, you sexy bitch,” before grabbing her wrist when she walked by him.

Mahoney also accused an officer of shoving her from behind as she monitored a woman inside a house during the execution of a search warrant. She complained to the agency’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, claiming she believed the officer’s actions were “premeditated” and that “his presence was there to instill fear in her and to send a message.” She also complained to Ledogar, saying she was concerned for her safety because the bullying by her co-workers was escalating and potentially dangerous in the field.

The U.S. Marshals Service later closed an internal investigation into Mahoney’s claims of harassment without taking action. When it investigated the shoving incident, it found Mahoney’s accusations “unsubstantiated.”

See also: Openly gay pilot leaving Navy after homophobic harassment

Ledogar testified under oath four times between 2015 and 2017 as part of the investigation into Mahoney’s claims. Each time, he corroborated her allegations of harassment and discrimination. She would later settle her EEO complaint in 2019, and was transferred out of the task force.

After one of the men Mahoney accused of bullying her lost his spot on the task force, Ledogar was named in an investigation in which the task force supervisor claimed someone broke into his office. According to Ledogar’s legal team, that investigation was closed as unsubstantiated in 2016.

In June 2016, two months after he was interviewed a second time in Mahoney’s harassment case, Ledogar was targeted by a second internal affairs investigation, in which he was accused of making racist comments in the workplace. He has claimed those allegations were fabricated by task force members who allegedly harassed Mahoney, including the officer accused of shoving her.

The officer involved in the shoving incident accused Ledogar of using the n-word around employees frequently and claimed Ledogar told him he was a silent partner of a mixed martial arts gym on Long Island that was owned by a convicted felon familiar to the task force. Ledogar’s lawyers have denounced those accusations as false. 

In March 2017, the U.S. Marshals Service proposed firing Ledogar based on that officer’s claims. But one month later, U.S. Marshals Service Chief Inspector Cathy Jones dismissed the racism accusations as unsubstantiated. 

See also: LGBTQ students at Christian colleges more likely to experience harassment than their peers

Ledogar was subsequently subjected to two more internal affairs investigations involving his connection to a convicted felon and confidential informant who falsely claimed he was staying at Ledogar’s home while on temporary release, and another involving additional complaints from the police officer who had made the earlier allegations of racism against Ledogar, alleging that he used racial slurs, stole property and used drugs. All investigations continued into 2020, when the Marshals Service terminated Ledogar over the informant probe. The inquiry into charges of racism was closed without further action, according to Ledogar’s lawyers.

Last week, Ledogar challenged his termination, filing closing arguments with the federal Merit Systems Protection Board, which will determine whether he was wrongfully terminated and if he’s entitled to full retirement benefits. He previously filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging retaliation and harassment.

“This is a classic example of retaliation for protected activities,” Ledogar’s lawyer, Raymond Granger, told The Daily Beast. “Not only did headquarters in Washington punish Bobby for standing up for a fellow employee who clearly was being harassed and discriminated against based on her gender and sexual orientation, but it sent a clear message to other Marshal Service employees that they could expect the same treatment if they, too, rocked the boat and took actions that could embarrass headquarters.”

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed Ledogar worked for the agency from June 1995 through April 2020, but declined to comment on the specifics of the situation, citing privacy concerns.

When Ledogar was under investigation, Mahoney was among the hundreds of colleagues who wrote a letter defending him, calling him “a man with pure integrity.”

“What is most difficult for me to accept personally is that his current persecution is solely based on his courageous actions of support in standing up for me, the original victim of bullying by those making retaliatory complaints against him,” Mahoney wrote at the time.

See also:

Mormon student says “f****ts go to hell” while ruining LGBTQ chalk art

Washington State man convicted of hate crime for transgender teenager’s murder

Anti-gay pastor claims COVID-19 vaccines will stop working unless America ‘repents for sodomy’

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