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Federal prosecutors reopen probe of Air Marshal gun scheme, sources say

EXCLUSIVE: The U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Virginia has reopened its criminal investigation into allegations of illicit gun-selling at senior levels of the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS), multiple sources told FoxNews.com. 

"They're taking another look at everything. They appear to have received new information they did not have during their initial investigation," one of the sources briefed on the case told FoxNews.com. 

In addition to the criminal probe, sources said internal investigations within the Air Marshal Service and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have involved a larger number of senior officials than previously had been reported. Those senior officials may have illicitly purchased guns or been involved with a June 2009 contract bid awarded to Sig Sauer, the weapons manufacturer whose guns allegedly were involved in the gun-selling scheme. 

Sources said the U.S. attorney's office reopened the case following congressional inquiries into the matter and an April 10 FoxNews.com story revealing the existence of the investigation. The probe initially focused on allegations Danny Poulos, an Air Marshal supervisor, benefited from his professional relationship with Sig Sauer to receive free or discounted weapons, which were then allegedly sold to senior FAMS executives, including recently retired director Robert Bray. 

A TSA spokesman, when asked about the case, confirmed the internal probe remained ongoing but referred FoxNews.com to the U.S. attorney's office regarding the federal investigation. The spokesman said: "TSA has found no evidence of criminal misconduct by any senior FAM or TSA manager." 

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said the office "cannot confirm or deny the existence of any investigation, nor can we comment on any pending investigation." 

Poulos' lawyer declined to comment on the latest developments. Asked for comment, an attorney for Bray said: "It is our understanding that Bob Bray is not a subject of the U.S. Attorney's criminal investigation, nor should he be, given his strict compliance with applicable laws." 

Bray, Poulos and Sig Sauer were all subjects of the initial investigation, which launched in late February 2013 and involved U.S. attorneys' offices in Virginia and Maryland. Prosecutors declined to press criminal charges against Poulos in September and his case was passed back to the Department of Homeland Security inspector general's office, and the Transportation Security Administration's Office of Inspection for administrative proceedings. According to a letter from the TSA administrator to the House Homeland Security transportation subcommittee chair, federal prosecutors also declined to pursue criminal charges against Sig Sauer. 

Sig Sauer did not respond to FoxNews.com's request for comment. Poulos is now working for another federal agency, according to his lawyer, who would not elaborate. 

During the time of his agency's internal investigation, Bray reached a settlement agreement that included a provision to suspend any possible disciplinary actions against him, according to a letter from the head of the TSA. 

TSA officials have confirmed Bray did buy weapons from Poulos, but say he did so legally and with "no knowledge" they may have been "ill-gotten." 

In addition, Bray's settlement agreement is now the subject of a May 2 complaint filed against TSA Administrator John Pistole with the agency's civil rights division. To date, 29 other Air Marshal Service employees have either filed similar complaints or expressed intent to do so in hopes that the commission that reviews such complaints designates this a "class-action" suit. 

"TSA Administrator John S. Pistole allowed Director Robert Bray to 'NOT' be disciplined for Bray's conduct regarding a gun scandal that made national news," the initial complaint reads, according to a copy obtained by FoxNews.com. 

"TSA Administrator Pistol intentionally treated Director Bray favorably while other TSA employees were all disciplined for trivial allegations of misconduct. Pistole is Bray's supervisor and allowed Bray to enjoy a 'clean' record but denied other employees the same benefit. 

"Bray was not disciplined for his criminal acts nor was he disciplined for violating policy." 

New FAMS director Roderick Allison, who replaced Bray, previously led the TSA's Office of Inspection, which conducted the internal administrative investigation. Sources said new information gathered during the TSA OI investigation was passed back to the U.S. attorney's office. 

According to officials with knowledge of the probe, DHS investigators conducted a late-night April 11 inventory of the Air Marshal Service's national armory in Atlantic City, N.J. Managers were questioned, and inventory of weaponry at the agency's national armory was taken. 

Asked about the inventory, a TSA spokesman said "there was no all-night inventory" at the armory -- but said the agency conducts an annual firearms inventory, which apparently began earlier this year. The spokesman described this as "standard and prudent" practice. 

Weapons inventories continue, as recently as two weeks ago, in field offices around the country, according to sources with knowledge of the efforts to track firearms once or currently registered to or purchased by the agency and its employees. 

It is unclear if outside investigators -- in addition to FAMS or TSA officials -- were involved in the weapons checks. This followed email requests to training division heads in all the field offices asking them to confirm the whereabouts of guns registered to agency employees. Multiple sources say the agency continues to focus on tracking down all service and personal weapons purchased by FAMS employees on behalf of the agency. 

Members of Congress continue to raise concerns about the allegations. 

On June 5, Reps. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., and David McKinley, R-W.Va., sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., and Ranking Member Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., asking them to freeze plans for agency overhauls rolled out under Bray's tenure as director, including the planned closure of six regional FAMS offices, until "further questions are answered and the TSA and DHS IG probes are complete." 

The latest House homeland security appropriations bill also includes a provision requiring a report -- within 90 days of whenever the bill is enacted -- on what "specific actions" will be taken to prevent Air Marshal officials "from using a Federal firearms license, and the agency's relationships with private vendors, to obtain discounted or free firearms for personal use." 

A similar amendment was added to a TSA-related bill during a House Homeland Security Committee meeting. 

In introducing the measure, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., referenced the "recently uncovered misuse of a federal firearms license" by an employee, adding "the former director bought several." 

"TSA was less than forthcoming with Congress regarding this investigation," he said. A spokesman with the agency said, "TSA does not comment on proposed legislation." 

TO REACH THIS REPORTER EMAIL JANA.WINTER@FOXNEWS.COM