RSS Feeds

Focus on State Department after mysterious burglary in Dallas

Friday - 7/12/2013, 1:34pm  ET

An image from surveillance video at the law firm in Dallas that was victim to what law firm partners called a suspicious burglary. (WTOP)

WASHINGTON - On Sunday, June 30 at about noon Damon Mathias got a phone call from police in Dallas, Texas. Someone had broken into the law firm of Shulman and Mathias, which represents State Department whistleblower Aurelia Fedenisn.

The mysterious nature of the crime emerged immediately because only selected items were taken from the office, which had been forced into. Nothing was taken from an unlocked computer laboratory with 14 high end computers and other equipment across the hall and nothing was taken from any other office in the building.

Mathias tells WTOP he immediately rushed over as the police were inspecting the suite and discovered "that criminals basically kicked a whole through our wall," from a vacant office next door.

According to Mathias, the thieves "went through every office, (in our suite) and apparently made multiple trips into the office," either unaware or not caring that video cameras were recording their every move.

The burglars' sloppy work has raised suspicion about whether they were simple thieves looking for items to generate quick money or a team contracted for a higher purpose.

One key set of movements inside the office during the break spoke volumes, Mathias says "They went to my office first and every drawer was opened. Surprisingly, there were only two things gone from my office, which were the computer and one credit card," he says.

The items not taken are driving feverish speculation about why the burglary happened.

"Where they took the credit card, in that same drawer there were four different credit cards, there were bars of silver, there was the firm checkbook, personal checks as well. None of that was taken," says Mathias.

The burglars "went into my partner's office and took his computer and also took the receptionist's and tried to break into a file cabinet."

The things left behind suggested to the partners at the law firm that the thieves were only after items that might only be of value to certain people, Mathias says. The bizarre nature of the break-in has conjured images in the minds of conspiracy theorists of the Watergate incident that brought down President Richard M. Nixon.

It's also reminded many of the almost comical plot hatched by Iranian agents, using a Texas -based intermediary, to kill the Saudi Ambassador in Washington in 2011.

Mansour Arbarbsian, a used car sales was sentenced to 25 years in prison in May for trying to hire hit men from Mexico on behalf of Iranian intelligence agents to kill the ambassador during lunch at Café Milano in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood.

While police have not identified the suspects or motive, the nature of Fedinisn's whistleblower case against the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) force has opened up a wide range of speculation on what the motive might be.

Fedinisn, a former investigator in the State Department Inspector General's office revealed that endemic behavior including sexual assaults on embassy guards overseas took place as well as hiring prostitutes.

The DSS is responsible for protecting the secretary of state and U.S. ambassadors overseas and with investigating any cases of misconduct on the part of the 70,000 State Department employees worldwide.

"Any allegation that the Department of State authorized someone to break into Mr. Schulman's law firm is false and baseless," says State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Mathias tells WTOP that police have still not determined the motive for the break- in.

Law enforcement sources say a range of possibilities exist from international espionage, to election politics, to a criminal cover-up, or just a badly executed burglary.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter.