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What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas — when it allegedly takes place in a Sin City FBI office.
An FBI agent claims in a new lawsuit that she was subjected to repeated sexual harassment at the Bureau’s Las Vegas office, including by a supervisor who once allegedly texted her a photo of a rainbow-colored sex toy.
In the suit filed last week against US Attorney General Merrick Garland as head of the agency, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Karen Veltri alleges she was sexually harassed by two supervisors — then retaliated against for reporting the abuse to several oversight bodies.
Veltri eventually reported the harassment in an email to FBI Director Christopher Wray, states the suit filed in Nevada federal court, which seeks unspecified damages.
The harassment began when — after stints at the Newark field office and FBI headquarters in Washington — Veltri was transferred to the Las Vegas Division in November 2019, the suit states.
Veltri worked under Assistant Special Agent in Charge Francis Cucinotta, who she claims tried to have a sexual relationship with her and made several inappropriate comments to her.
In one instance, in January 2020, Cucinotta allegedly spoke to her Veltri about “ground balls,” which she understood to be a sexual euphemism, the suit states.
“I’m sure you know all about the bases, but I’m talking about ground balls,” he said and winked, according to the suit.
In another instance, when Veltri wore her hair down at work, Cucinotta told her how “nice” it looked and said she should “wear it down more often,” according to the suit.
In spring 2020, Veltri complained about Cucinotta’s behavior to Supervisory Special Agent Robert Bennett — who was also an employee assistance program officer, a position designed to help employees who face situations that may affect their work, the suit states.
Instead of helping her, Bennett also allegedly sexually harassed Veltri, according to the suit.
“On November 20, 2020, Bennett sent Plaintiff in a text message on her bureau-issued cell phone, a photograph with a rainbow-colored dildo between his legs,” the suit states, adding that Veltri believed he was trying to confirm her sexuality due to the color of the sex toy.
“My Dick pic!!!!!” he wrote under the photo, according to the suit.
Four days later, he allegedly sent her another message saying he was “looking for Bieber d–k pics” and included a photo of a unicorn with a rainbow-colored horn.
Bennett also texted her on several occasions about weapons he owns and about his overconsumption of alcohol, the suit claims.
In one instance, he allegedly sent her photos of himself at a 2021 Super Bowl party, saying he’d be late to work the next day.
“I’m out hanging with my buddy Chris had a good time at the Super Bowl party but I’m obviously f–king drunk so I won’t be in til noon or one,” the text read, according to the suit.
“I just don’t wanna bulls–t you I’m drunk as f–k and I need til noon or one to sober up to show up so handle s–t for me,” he added, the suit states.
He also allegedly texted her photos of booze and guns he owns, which she reported to the bureau’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who in turn passed them along to the Inspection Division.
Veltri told the EEO that she was particularly concerned about “a loaded shotgun Bennett kept in a cabinet, next to his desk, in his office,” given his alleged alcohol abuse.
Veltri reported the harassment by both supervisors to the EEO, the FBI’s Inspection Division and the bureau’s Office of Professional Responsibility — but no action was taken, according to the suit.
She claimed in the suit that her superiors in the division purposefully downplayed her squad’s accomplishments during the period when she filed the complaints in an effort to make her appear less successful.
The FBI, Bennett and the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to request for comment. Cucinotta could not immediately be reached for comment.
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