Whistleblower Groups

are Supporting

 Former US Department

 of Energy Employee

 

 

 

 

By Mike Gellatly

Staff writer

 

July 28, 2008

 

A former SRS worker convicted of lying to collect federal retirement benefits has become the friend of those crusading for open government and accountability.

 

Martin Salazar worked at the Savannah River Site as an engineer of the best part of 20 years. However, when he filed for early retirement and his credentials were investigated, discrepancies were found – discrepancies that prompted a U.S. District Court jury to find Salazar guilty of making false statements to the Department of Energy.

 

Though he has been found guilty and sentenced, Salazar has still not begun his year-long sentence as his conviction is being appealed, an appeal that has been emboldened by the support of a few well-known friends.

 

Eight independent government watchdogs and accountability-focused groups have come together to file a brief of Amici Curiae in support of Salazar’s appeal to the United States Court of Appeals.

 

Literally translated as “friend of the court,” this legal filing refers to someone, not a party to a case, who volunteers to offer information on a point of law or some other aspect of the case to assist the court in deciding a matter before it.

 

The Government Accountability Project is a three-decade-old nonprofit group that promotes government and corporate accountability. It does this, according to its website, by “advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers and empowering citizen activists.”

 

The GAP and many other groups see Salazar as a whistleblower and someone who was shoved down for attempts to stand up to the Department of Energy.

 

“During his nearly 20-year tenure at (DOE), Salazar was a relentless critic and activist challenging management on alleged DOE racial inequity,” the GAP brief states. “In an effort to silence Salazar, the agency brought … charges against him.”

 

The brief goes on to say that it was this whistleblowing that prompted DOE to use information they knew previously, that of discrepancies with his date of birth, to seek revenge.

 

However, he claims beyond this case, many other actions were taken against him tit-for-tat as he filed his complaints.

 

In the criminal case, Salazar was filing for early retirement. To claim this, he had to have 20 years within the company and be at least 50 years of age.

 

Salazar’s believed real birth year was 1957 and not eligible for retirement at the original date set of August 2005. However, on these forms, he listed his date of birth as being 1954.

 

While Salazar has very recently admitted that he did use the wrong date of birth on certain forms, his appeal claims that he was trapped into doing so by government officials, specifically DOE officials.

 

He claims a jury should have been charged with the option of finding him not guilty due to entrapment by estoppel.

 

“Estoppel” is a term that means that someone has stated something which they know to be false, but they have been prompted or coerced into doing so by a government official.

 

In his case, the former nuclear engineer states that several DOE officials knew Salazar had more than one date of birth on documents but told him to use the false one to facilitate the retirement claim.

 

 

See Original Article Here:

 
 

 

http://www.aikenstandard.com/0729Salazar

 
 

 

 
 

 

 
 

 

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