By Jack Fink
casey robert fbi 20081 Retiring Dallas FBI Director Reflects On Career

FBI Director Robert Casey, who retires April 30, 2012. (Credit: FBI)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – As the special agent in charge of the Dallas FBI, Robert Casey has overseen some of the biggest and most important criminal cases in the region’s history.

From public corruption cases at Dallas City Hall and Dallas County to a notorious group of violent bank robbers and accused terrorists, Casey has been deeply involved in them all.

And on Monday, he’s retiring; turning in his badge for good.

“April 30 is going to be a tough day,” Casey said.

It’s an especially tough day because Casey’s been in charge at the Dallas FBI for six years and in the FBI for more than 25 years.

“It’s probably around 300 feet, I would guess, from this office to the front door of this building, but it’s going to be like miles when I walk it I’m sure,” he said.

Casey started out as a Houston cop in 1981 and was named officer of the year there in 1983. He still wears the Rolex watch he was given.

Casey still marvels at it, saying, “For a young kid who never thought he’d end up in a position like this, you know, briefing the director of the FBI, briefing the Attorney General of the United States.”

One of his proudest accomplishments in Dallas happened in June of 2008, when the FBI and area police departments took down the seven notorious bank robbers known as the Scarecrow Bandits.

Armed and dangerous, they’d hit 21 banks.

“That was the longest one-to-two minutes, maybe, of my career after I gave the order to take them down,” Casey said.

Before they struck again, Casey said he wanted to use a technique rarely employed during bank robbery investigations.

“I had to personally call the director of the FBI late one night. He had to personally call the Attorney General of the United States and then the director had to call me back and authorize us to wiretap one of the suspect’s phones without going to a judge first,” Casey said.

Casey said that wiretapping allowed them to listen in to the suspects’ conversations as they planned to rob their 22nd bank.

“I’m absolutely convinced we saved lives,” he said.

Casey is also proud of his agents arresting 19-year-old Hosam Smadi in September of 2009. Smadi was a lone wolf who pled guilty for plotting to blow up Fountain Place in downtown Dallas.

He also helped investigate a public corruption case that cast a shadow over Dallas’s City Hall.

Casey wouldn’t, however, discuss his agency’s current public corruption investigation into Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

The FBI has faced accusations that it’s targeted black politicians, an allegation Casey has always rejected.

“It’s a lot of baloney,” he said. “Those allegations can’t be supported. They’re baseless. We don’t make decisions like that.”

Casey said the FBI has been “an exciting place to work.”

He remembers his last visit with his boss, FBI Director Robert Mueller, at FBI Headquarters, where he worked after Sept. 11 to change how the agency gathers intelligence.

Casey was honored for his distinguished service.

“It was tough to walk out to know it was my last time there as an FBI agent,” he said.

Leaving Dallas, he said, won’t be any easier. Casey’s new assignment is in the private sector.

He’s set to become the chief security officer for Eli Lilly, the world’s 10th largest pharmaceutical company.

It’s based in Indianapolis –– Casey’s hometown.

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