Robert Ledogar was featured on Whistleblower Network News in November of 2020 as a Whistleblower of the Week. WNN recently caught up with Ledogar to see how he is doing and if there have been any developments in his case since WNN last covered his story.
Ledogar served in the Navy and became a Master-at-arms. While in the Navy, he applied to the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS). The USMS operates under the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and Ledogar joined its forces in 1995. He worked in New York and rose through the ranks of the USMS, promoted to the Warrants squad in 2010 and later “attached to the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force,” according to Ledogar’s Whistleblower of the Week profile.
In 2015, when Ledogar was a Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal, a Deputy Marshal stationed in the task force on Long Island confided in Ledogar. Dawn Mahoney, whom Ledogar had suggested for selection and appointment to the task force, told Ledogar that she was experiencing harassment by other members of the task force. Mahoney’s story is documented in a recent article from The Daily Beast – the article also details the retaliation Ledogar faced at the hands of the USMS ever since he stood by Mahoney and reported her harassment up the chain of command.
Since 2015, Ledogar has experienced various forms of retaliation as he continues to support Mahoney and help her file complaints about the sexual harassment and bullying she endured on the Task Force. This retaliation has included an internal affairs investigation and allegations about Ledogar, ranging from accusations that he made racist comments at work to a claim that Ledogar “was a silent partner of a mixed martial arts gym on Long Island that was owned by a convicted felon,” according to The Daily Beast. His lawyers called these claims “bizarre and patently false.”
By October of 2018, four internal affairs cases had been opened regarding Ledogar; three out of the four were ruled unsubstantiated. Ledogar put in his retirement papers but two months before he was supposed to retire on April 20, 2020, he was “notified that he had been fired for lack of candor and conduct unbecoming to a U.S. Marshal,” Jane Turner writes in Ledogar’s WNN profile. Since his termination, Ledogar has been fighting this decision with a case at the Merit Systems Protection Board, the governing body responsible for overseeing federal whistleblower cases. He also has an open case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEO).
“Since the story came out last November, of course there were some dates that were scheduled but then they got cancelled and postponed,” Ledogar tells WNN regarding his whistleblower retaliation case at the MSPB. On June 30, he had the first day of the hearing for the case. In the session, the U.S. government called witnesses before the judge who will issue a final decision. Ledogar noted that June 30 seemed to be an “odd date” in his case: in April of 2020, human resources approved that Ledogar could retire on June 30, 2020. “But I was terminated on April 20, 2020, when they knew I was going to retire. So my hearing comes about one year later from the day I could have retired, on June 30,” Ledogar remarks.
The second date of the hearing was July 14. In this session, Ledogar and his chief gave testimonies before the judge. On August 23, Ledogar sent in his submission for his closing argument for the hearing – as of now, he is waiting for the judge to make a final decision, but there is “no timeline or date set of when the judge can make the decision,” Ledogar tells WNN. He also noted that using Zoom for the hearings complicated the proceedings.
As of now, Ledogar’s MSPB case is awaiting the judge’s decision. Ledogar remains hopeful and says that he believes the judge “wanted to hear what I had to say.” But he states that the entire MSPB process was “real hard” and “exhausting.”
Ledogar’s EEO case is up next, though he says that he has gotten a two-month extension for financial reasons. During this time, he will try to generate money to fund the legal fees for the EEO case.
Ledogar’s Support Network
“Throughout the whole ordeal, from day one, I’ve had nothing but positive support and guidance and everything from so many different people. And that people put their name on the line for me. And they never walked away,” Ledogar says about the hundreds of former co-workers who have stepped up to support him during his conflicts with leadership at the USMS and throughout his legal battles. “Let me tell you, it’s very emotional. When you start reading the letters that people write about you, and you’re not expecting to read what they write…everybody tells a different story about what you did for them, or somebody they know, throughout the time they’ve known you. It’s unbelievable.” He notes that in some cases, his supporters “put their title, their career, their own families” on the line. “They put their words to paper and they put it out there. I can never thank them enough for what they did.”
Ledogar explains that this support started back in 2017, when the first of two proposed removal cases came about. Accusations about Ledogar flew, but he states that in this case alone, “we collected over 120 letters” voicing support. His lawyer and the deciding official in the case “even agreed that that was unheard of. Nobody in the Marshals Service had ever done that before.” Similarly, in the second proposed removal case, which occurred in 2020 and ended in Ledogar’s termination, over 160 letters of support were collected along with a petition that garnered 75 signatures. Ledogar says that he prints all of the letters out and cherishes the support.
Ledogar also highlights the support of his wife throughout this entire experience: “It’s been me and my wife since day one going through this.” He says that when he first started experiencing retaliation, his wife wrote a letter in support of him stating her pride for Ledogar’s protection of Mahoney, and “that was it. That was all you needed to keep going. She saw it for what it’s worth.”
“I Just Did What You’re Supposed to Do”
“I never asked to be some superhero or anything like that,” Ledogar states. “When you read the beginning of the case, I just did what you’re supposed to do and help somebody or protect somebody, and for the government to turn the evil eye against me because they were going to be embarrassed is disgusting. And people knew that, and everybody saw it. And they still see it today.”
Ledogar has also turned into a beacon of support and hope for other people going through similar situations. “I can’t not pick up the phone. I can’t not talk to someone or try to guide them,” he says of the numerous people who now go to him for guidance.
Personal Toll of Blowing the Whistle
“I’ve lost everything,” Ledogar tells WNN. “I have no pension, I have no retirement, I have no medical benefits, I don’t have a Social Security supplement. I’m 51 years old. They knew what they were doing. They financially destroyed me, for what? I helped people. I legitimately helped people. I might have not done it to their liking, but I helped people and I committed no crime doing it.”
In a follow-up email to WNN, Ledogar expanded on how his family has been affected by his whistleblowing. “This was never an investigation into misconduct, this was a vicious attack against me and my wife by my own agency.
We had a beautiful life, a home that welcomed everyone. We both had jobs we enjoyed, my wife was forced to switch her role at work. Our dreams and hopes were shattered. Our finances were destroyed, we needed help from family and friends. We never lost HOPE, having faith and believing that good will prevail against evil. The days are tough, you feel alone, the demons get into your thoughts because you feel sad for yourself.”
Ledogar also further elaborated on his feelings about his thoughts on the legal process he has had to endure. “This story is a Tale of Two Cities. One agency investigating one employee, the agency internal affairs is opening up investigations off of lies for crimes and the agency district is increasing responsibilities, recommending promotion.”
“I’m not perfect, I make mistakes. But they lie and we have the truth and facts,” Ledogar wrote. “If not you, then who! Well it was me. I did my job, I did what you should do. I defended and helped people.”
Donations for Robert Ledogar’s legal fund are accepted at the below address:
SDUSM Robert Ledogar Legal Defense Fund
National Police Defense Foundation
21 Kilmer Drive, Bldg 2, Suite C
Morganville, New Jersey 07751
Read Ledogar’s previous Whistleblower of the Week profile here.