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Former FBI Agent Argues For Leonard Peltier’s Parole, Based on Truth
Joseph and John Trimbach -- American Indian Movement Myth Busters Joseph and John Trimbach -- American Indian Movement Myth Busters
Friday, July 31, 2009


Atlanta ?- On Tuesday, July 28, 2009, former FBI Agent in Charge Joseph H. Trimbach read a statement to Leonard Peltier, an inmate serving two consecutive life sentences at the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania. Peltier was convicted of aiding and abetting the 1975 double murders of two young Agents under Trimbach?s supervision, Ron Williams and Jack Coler. Peltier?s parole hearing, his first full hearing since 1993, was believed to be his last chance to convince Board members that he has fulfilled the conditions of his parole. Peltier sat motionless and stared at the floor as Trimbach read a prepared statement that said Peltier?s only real chance for parole is for him to finally accept responsibility for his actions, saying that ?Healing is possible only if you acknowledge your guilt, ask for forgiveness, and show remorse for the terrible crimes you committed. It is not too late. You must acknowledge the truth.? Here is Trimbach?s full statement:

Statement of Joseph H. Trimbach, Special Agent in Charge, FBI (retired)

In Opposition to Parole for


Reg. No. 89637-132

United States Penitentiary

Lewisburg, PA

July 28, 2009

I would like to thank the Parole Commission for giving us this opportunity to make a statement in opposition to parole for Inmate Peltier. I am here representing only myself and my son, John. We do not represent any group or organization. The opinions and recommendations are ours alone. The facts presented are as we know them to be, and as we set forth in our book, American Indian Mafia, An FBI Agent?s True Story About Wounded Knee, Leonard Peltier, and the American Indian Movement.

Our book sets the record straight on matters pertaining to Inmate Peltier as well as the leadership of the American Indian Movement. [It also exposes many of the falsehoods found in books about Leonard Peltier, such as Peter Matthiessen?s, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.]

On June 26, 1975, I was in my office in Minneapolis when I learned that there was gunfire at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, some 600 miles away. I assembled my SWAT teams and flew to Rapid City. We were met there by George O?Clock, the 60-year-old supervisor in that resident agency. As I stepped off the plane, George came up to me with tears streaming down his checks. He could barely speak. He looked up at me and said, ?Boss, they killed them.? He was talking about two of my Agents, Ron Williams and Jack Coler, both 28-years-old.

The Rapid City Resident Agency was a close-knit group of about a dozen Agents. They worked and socialized together. They were like family. Several years ago, we interviewed, for our book, one of the Agents who had been assigned there. He told me that his grief over the loss of these two friends was something he would carry with him to his grave.

Agent Williams had a brilliant future in the FBI and was scheduled to come to Headquarters for training as a squad supervisor. Jack Coler, the father of two young children, was assigned to the Denver Division and was on loan to my office. He was a former police officer, and an outstanding Agent.

On that fateful day in June 1975, we flew to the Pine Ridge airstrip and were driven to the scene of the shooting. The gunfire had not ended. We immediately came under fire from shooters in a small building. They escaped out the rear of the building and into the woods before we had a chance to surround them. We pursued them in our vehicles until the terrain made this impossible. We then proceeded on foot as the fugitives fled west. Inmate Peltier and his associates shot at us. I almost became a casualty myself. A bullet hit the dirt just a few feet from where I was running. We could not see the shooters because we were looking directly into the setting sun. I was forced to call off the chase for fear that more of my Agents would be killed pursuing the fugitives in the dark.

John and I attended the murder trial of another American Indian Movement gunman named Arlo Looking Cloud, in February 2004. Ka-Mook Nichols, former wife of American Indian Movement founder Dennis Banks, testified that a few months after the murders, Inmate Peltier bragged to her and her sister, that he shot Agent Williams. According to Ka-Mook?s testimony, Inmate Peltier said, ?The motherfucker was begging for his life but I shot him anyway.? Ron Williams died with his right hand held up in a futile effort to stave off the rifle bullet he knew was coming. He had been trying to tie a tourniquet on the upper arm of Jack Coler who was in deep shock and bleeding to death from a severe gunshot wound that nearly severed his right arm. Williams had also been shot and was obviously in great pain. Neither Agent posed a threat to anyone. Inmate Peltier shot both Agents in the face from a distance of just a few inches away.

Some people have referred to these killings as a shootout. Actually, this was more like an ambush from 200 yards away, followed by the deliberate cold-blooded execution of two wounded law enforcement officers.

No one in the FBI, and certainly no one in my office, knew that Peltier was on the reservation. The Agents were not there to arrest him. Ron and Jack were looking for Jimmy Eagle, a local resident wanted on a felony assault charge. In fact, the Agents had been in the area the day before, asking about Eagle. Inmate Peltier knew these men were FBI Agents when he opened fire on them. He thought they had come to arrest him, as there was an outstanding felony warrant on Inmate Peltier.

Inmate Peltier continues to deny his involvement in these murders, despite the massive evidence against him. In so doing, he has done substantial harm to our criminal justice system by polluting the minds of many well-intentioned but gullible people, particularly students, who believe his lies. He has inspired falsified books to be written (Peter Matthiessen?s In the Spirit of Crazy Horse) and a falsified documentary to be produced (Robert Redford?s ?Incident at Oglala?). By claiming to be a political prisoner, illegally convicted by the FBI, Inmate Peltier promotes disrespect for law and order and hatred for America. He has poisoned the minds of many Native Americans with his lies and his defense fund schemes.

In a recent blog posting on behalf of Inmate Peltier, the article opened with the words, ?May death be upon you, FBI.? To my knowledge, Inmate Peltier has never disavowed these dangerous words. In our view, with his present mindset, he presents a clear, present, and continuing threat to law enforcement, particularly the FBI.

Inmate Peltier, the issue of your guilt was decided over 30 years ago in a courtroom and you continue to pay the price for the crimes you committed. But now could be the time for healing and closure. Healing is possible only if you acknowledge your guilt, ask for forgiveness, and show remorse for the terrible crimes you committed. It is not too late. You must acknowledge the truth. You have an opportunity to make a positive contribution to society. Ours is a forgiving country, but you have to ask for forgiveness. And you need to cooperate fully with authorities on other matters under investigation, including the Anna Mae Aquash murder.

The path you have chosen over the last three decades has only succeeded in keeping you behind bars. I want you to consider this very carefully because this might be your last chance. So I?m asking you to search your heart and conscience. Do the right thing. Accept responsibility for your actions. And you must ask Ron?s mother and Jack?s widow for forgiveness.

In conclusion, we believe that releasing Inmate Peltier, based on his claim of innocence, runs contrary to the findings of the Federal Circuit Court judges, all of whom concluded that he is guilty. Furthermore, if Inmate Peltier is released without acknowledging his guilt, we can expect him to give speeches on reservations and college campuses asserting the lie that he was a political prisoner. We believe it is unacceptable to grant parole to an unrepentant killer who refuses to ask for forgiveness from family members deprived of a son, a husband, and a father.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: John M. Trimbach
Group: Trimbach & Associates, Inc.
Dateline: Atlanta, United States
Direct Phone: 770-883-5086
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