Conspiracy, Hired Gunman Cited in Prosecutor’s Killing

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is due in Seattle to discuss new evidence in the 16-year investigation of a federal prosecutor’s murder. Thomas Wales may have been the first U.S. prosecutor in history to be slain in the line of duty.

The FBI has found evidence suggesting that the fatal shooting of Seattle federal prosecutor Thomas Wales in 2001 involved a conspiracy and a hired gunman, the Seattle Times reports. Agents had pursued a single-shooter theory and focused on a former  airline pilot who has long been a leading suspect. An FBI official said there is a “very small group” of people who know what happened. “They never talk about it,” the official said. The pilot, whom Wales had prosecuted in a bitterly fought fraud case, has maintained his innocence.

While the first-time disclosure that multiple people might be involved represents a major step in the investigation, the official cautioned that agents have yet to develop sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges. The U.S. Justice Department has scheduled a news conference in Seattle for Wednesday. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to make the agency’s most extensive comments on the case since Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the 10-year anniversary of the shooting. Wales, 49, was working as a white-collar criminal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office when he was shot several times while sitting at a computer in the basement of his home on Oct. 11, 2001. If Wales was killed because of his work, he would be the first federal prosecutor in the nation’s history to be slain in the line of duty.