MIAMI -- The key FBI undercover agent in a two-year pornography investigation who is scheduled to appear as a witness in up to 13 related trials has been fired over an alleged shoplifting incident in Louisville, Ky., the Miami Herald reported Friday.
Patrick Livingston, who was arrested in November on charges he attempted to steal a sweater and other clothing from a Louisville department store, was fired Thursday, Saturday editions of the Herald said. The shoplifting charges eventually were dismissed, but the FBI held its own administrative investigation of the incident.
In a formal letter to his superiors, Livingston said his five years as an undercover agent made it difficult for him to discern the difference between his role as investigator and the 'the faster life style of fine wine, good food and total unresponsibility' he had begun to enjoy.
It was not known whether Livingston, an 18-year FBI veteran, would still testify in the upcoming trials. A federal judge is to determine within the month whether the shoplifting charge should have a bearing on 'Miporn' cases that have not yet come to trial.
However, Fred Schwartz, the U.S. Strike Force attorney who has been prosecuting the Miporn cases, said he didn't 'think the dismissal would have any effect on the remaining cases.'
Miporn, short for 'Miami pornography,' was an Abscam-like investigation that cost the FBI more than $400,000.
Livingston, 37, was the FBI's key operative in the probe that led to 56 arrests on St. Valentine's Day 1980, and resulted in 17 court cases, only four of which have been prosecuted.
'We're going to appeal,' said William Brown, a Miami attorney who was a volunteer operative in the investigation and a longtime friend of Livingston's. 'They ought to give him a medal rather than terminate him.'
Livingston's Louisville attorney, Edward F. Horning, called the termination 'bizarre.'
'Here they're in the middle of a series of trials, based on investigations that cost taxpayers hundreds and thousands of dollars, and they terminate their star witness,' Horning told the Herald.
Neither the FBI nor Livingston would comment on the dismissal.
Only last week, psychiatrists and psychologists gave despositions in a Miami courtroom regarding Livingston's ability to distinguishhis FBI identity from his undercover role.
Steven A. Richards, a Miami psychologist, noted that Livingston had become confused about his twin lives, but said he can 'perceive reality as well as the next person.'
Miporn defense attorneys have tried to discount Livingston's testimony.