Special Reports

The men behind the audit

Over the past two years Chris Swecker has become the resident troubleshooter at the N.C. Department of Justice.

A lawyer in private practice in Charlotte, Swecker, 54, retired from the FBI with 24 years' experience, including six years as the top agent in North Carolina. Swecker investigated suicide bombs in Iraq, including that of the U.N. headquarters, and handled drug-trafficking, money-laundering and organized-crime cases. He played quarterback for four years at Appalachian State University in Boone.

Last year, after the SBI struck a $3.9 million settlement with former death row inmate Alan Gell, Swecker examined all homicide cases handled by now-retired agent Dwight Ransome, the lead agent in the Gell case. Swecker found a host of problems with Ransome's work, as well as a lack of supervision by his superiors.

Attorney General Roy Cooper turned to Swecker to review the case of Floyd Brown, a mentally retarded Anson County man locked up for 14 years on murder charges. Brown's alleged confession to SBI agent Mark Isley is at issue; that review has not been made public.

For the audit of the SBI's blood analysis section, Swecker was assisted by former FBI agent Mike Wolf. In 1998, Wolf led a team brought in to fix problems at the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Va. A federal inspector general had found a pattern of shoddy work, including lab reports shaded to favor prosecutors. Wolf was responsible for carrying out new policies and getting the lab reaccredited after the harsh report.

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