DALLAS — After hearing evidence that former FBI agent Carlos Ortiz plotted to kill his former boss and estranged wife, a judge on Thursday ordered him held in federal custody until his trial.
"Its a very sad day for law enforcement," U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma Ramirez said as she ruled that Ortiz, 48, a former special agent, is a danger to the community.
Ortiz, who was deemed "erratic and dangerous for years" in an FBI assessment, was fired by the bureau and arrested on Wednesday. Ortiz is accused of threatening to kill his estranged wife, who is a bureau analyst, and the head of the Dallas FBI field office.
The negative assessment is included in the dismissal letter Ortiz received Wednesday from the bureau. The letter chronicles allegations of spousal abuse and describes a 1992 encounter in which Dallas SWAT officers had to be called when Ortiz barricaded himself in his home over "job stress and personal issues."
An FBI spokesman in Dallas declined to comment today about the case, including why Ortiz was able to remain an agent for 21 years despite his documented unstable behavior.
He is accused of telling a friend that he was going to kill his wife of eight years as well as Dallas FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Casey Jr. The friend alerted authorities, and Ortiz was arrested Wednesday at the FBI offices in Dallas.
Ortiz had been on unpaid leave for months, pending completion of an internal investigation into whether he assaulted his estranged wife. The couple's divorce is pending in Dallas County. They have a 6-year-old son.
Ortiz's four-page dismissal letter was released by his family as agents searched his Red Oak home.
Agents suspected there were two dozen guns in his house, but it wasn't immediately clear what they found. He is also known to collect martial arts swords, one of which he is shown wielding on his Facebook page.
His father and girlfriend said this morning that Ortiz is not violent and blamed his firing and arrest on his estranged wife.
The dismissal letter, written by Candice Will of the bureau's Office of Professional Responsibility, states that Ortiz's wife told internal investigators that her husband "always had a temper," that he is "very unpredictable," and that his aggressive behavior "has escalated."
In May 2009, it states, Ortiz "demanded" that his wife "see her son's messy room." As the wife approached the room, Ortiz told investigators, he was "very angry and [grabbed] her arms and physically [moved] her into the room."
The wife told investigators that although Ortiz "had not been physically abusive up to this point, the suddenness" of his "aggression" caused her to fear that his "anger would spin out of control."
In June 2009, the letter states, Ortiz allegedly "demanded" that his wife deny her ex-husband visitation to their two children until the man "paid all delinquent child support payments." The wife protested but Ortiz, according to the letter, insisted. Ortiz left their home, then allegedly called and began screaming at his wife about the visitation issue and twice threatened "to come home and beat the [expletive] out of" her, the wife told authorities.
Ortiz told investigators that he "used some strong or angry language" and "felt like pushing her head through a wall," the letter states.
The dismissal letter also says Ortiz's behavior is part of a pattern. It details an Oct. 5, 1992, incident in which he barricaded himself inside a bedroom of his house and "refused to come out." His wife at the time contacted the Dallas FBI office "crying hysterically because she feared for the safety of her husband," the letter states.
She reported hearing her husband "loading weapons." Agents responded to the scene, but the "situation escalated" and Dallas SWAT was summoned "as a precautionary measure," the letter states.
"While locked in the bedroom, Ortiz stated that job stress and personal issues, to include run-ins with his neighbor over children damaging his rose bushes, had caused him excessive stress," the letter states. "After seven hours, Ortiz "exited the bedroom" and "voluntarily checked into a metal health facility."
Ortiz subsequently "failed a fitness for duty exam" and was "temporarily placed in a limited duty status."
In 2004, Ortiz was again investigated internally for "dangerous behavior," the letter states. His current wife told investigators that Ortiz "snapped" and began yelling and screaming at her. When relatives confronted Ortiz about removing his child from the residence, Ortiz allegedly "threatened to harm … anyone that wanted to take the baby."
The letter sums up: "You are and have been a danger to those around you. Your latest bout of aggression is simply further evidence of your unsuitability to remain an FBI agent."
Ortiz is in custody and could not be reached for comment this morning. He has 10 days to appeal his firing.
He is the second Dallas FBI agent to face criminal charges in recent weeks. Ann Cox was fired after she was charged last month with hiring illegal immigrants in a sandwich shop she once owned in Rockwall. She is expected to plead guilty in a Dallas federal court next week, authorities said.