1. Military

Jill Kelley turned to friend — and Tampa FBI agent — for help

FBI Agent Frederick W. Humphries II pursued the Youssef Megahed case.
FBI Agent Frederick W. Humphries II pursued the Youssef Megahed case.
Published Nov. 15, 2012

TAMPA — Frederick W. Humphries II helped make the FBI's cases against a would-be bomber on the West Coast and a university student in Tampa.

But the investigation he is most certainly going to be remembered for is one that led to the downfall of CIA director and retired Gen. David Petraeus.

Humphries was revealed Wednesday night as the Tampa FBI agent who took the complaints from socialite Jill Kelley that started a cyberstalking investigation and uncovered Petraeus' affair with biographer Paula Broadwell.

A spokesman for the Tampa FBI office declined comment Wednesday, and Humphries, 47, could not be reached.

His home in rural eastern Hillsborough County, around the corner from strawberry fields, was dark and no one answered the door. Burglar bars protected the windows and a large flag flew outside. A few miles away, his in-laws' house was also dark.

An attorney for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, who had spoken with Humphries, told the Tampa Bay Times that the agent simply took the initial report from Kelley about anonymous, harassing emails and passed it along.

"He and his wife have been social friends of Mr. and Mrs. Kelley for years," the attorney, Lawrence Berger said. "Apparently, she felt threatened and she went to him. He had no further involvement in the investigation."

Earlier this week, a report in the Wall Street Journal depicted the agent as "obsessed" with the case, once sending a shirtless picture of himself to Kelley, who often threw extravagant parties for military brass at her South Tampa mansion.

Berger confirmed that Humphries had, indeed, sent a shirtless photo of himself to Kelley several years ago — but said the picture was part of a series of jokes between the families.

In the photo, he said, Humphries appeared without a shirt standing between two firing-range dummies. It was not of a sexual nature, Berger said.

• • •

Before the Petraeus investigation, Humphries was most known in the Tampa Bay area as playing an integral role in a case against University of South Florida student Youssef Megahed.

Megahed was arrested with USF student Ahmed Mohamed in 2007 in South Carolina.

Mohamed was pulled over for speeding, and authorities found PVC pipes filled with a potassium nitrate mixture in his trunk. He said they were sugar rockets.

Megahed was charged with illegal transportation of explosive materials and possession of a destructive device. Neither man was convicted on those charges, but Mohamed received a 15-year sentence after an FBI investigation found he posted an Internet video on how to make a toy car's remote control into a detonator.

After his 2009 acquittal, Megahed was arrested again, for a deportation hearing. Humphries testified that he thought Megahed remained a threat.

"We felt that Mr. Megahed was willingly providing assistance to Mr. Mohamed, who is a self-professed terrorist," he testified.

The government tried to prove that Megahed had or would engage in terrorist activity and should be deported to Egypt.

The immigration judge, Kenneth Hurewitz, said he hadn't seen evidence that Mohamed shared his extreme views with Megahed. Megahed was eventually allowed to stay in the country.

• ••

In May 2010, an off-duty FBI agent shot and killed an Army veteran after a confrontation and chase at MacDill Air Force Base.

At the time, the FBI would not identify the agent. On Wednesday, the New York Times reported it had been Humphries.

As reported in the Tampa Bay Times in 2010, the incident started at the base's family camp, a recreational vehicle area.

The veteran, Ronald J. Bullock, was visiting the base when an altercation broke out. He took off on a motorcycle with security officials in pursuit.

When Bullock arrived at the gate on S Dale Mabry Highway, he confronted an FBI agent, who was at the base on unrelated business, with a knife.

The agent — Humphries — shot and killed Bullock. An investigation cleared Humphries, saying he "operated within the scope of the FBI's deadly force policy."

• • •

Before he moved to Tampa, Humphries worked for the FBI in Washington state.

There, he made news in 1999 when he helped build the government's case against Ahmed Ressam, who was detained as he tried to enter the country from Canada to set off a bomb at Los Angeles International Airport.

Humphries was in his third year with the bureau at the time.

Colleagues described him as "hard charging" and "a bulldog."

• • •

A spokesman for Scott and Jill Kelley said the agent was a friend Jill Kelley had called upon for help. It was not clear Wednesday how they met.

The New York Times, quoting the spokesman without disclosing his name, reported that Jill Kelley feared the sender of the anonymous emails was "stalking" Petraeus and Gen. John R. Allen.

"She asks the agent, 'What do you make of this?' " the newspaper reported the spokesman as saying. "The agent said: 'This is serious. They seem to know the comings and goings of a couple of generals.' "

That anonymous sender turned out to be Broadwell.

Later, fearing an investigation was being stalled for political reasons, Humphries in late October contacted U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, a Republican from Washington state.

Reichert put him in touch with the House majority leader, Eric Cantor, who in turn passed the message back to the FBI.

Berger, the general counsel for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, took issue with the way Humphries is being portrayed. He said he believes someone in the FBI is spreading false information about Humphries to embarrass him.

"I think there's a leaker in the bureau," Berger told the Tampa Bay Times. "Somebody has it in for my guy."

Times staff writers Dan Sullivan and Patty Ryan and news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Information from the New York Times was also used.