Retired agent Charles Cunningham served in the FBI for 22 years. His first assignment was to the Albany Division, where he handled liaison and investigations occurring in three northern counties, Warren, Washington, and Saratoga.
On this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, Charlie reviews his investigation of David Lindsay for cocaine trafficking. Lindsay was a highly decorated war hero who had retired from the military after about 21 years in the Marine Corps and the Army. As reflected on Lindsay’s DD-214 military record, he had earned over twenty medals of bravery.
A pre-trial evaluation determined that, based on his combat missions and time as a POW, Lindsay suffered from a severe case of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).
He used this as his defense during a jury trial with a dramatic ending.
After working this case, Charlie was reassigned to the New York Office where he worked organized crime and before being promoted to supervisor and selected for a project to target Mexican Cartels with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for several years, before being promoted to supervise a Colombian Drug Squad in Miami, Florida.
Later in his career, he was promoted to Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the New Orleans Division and next named the Section Chief of Violent Crimes and the Organized Crime Section. Charlie served temporarily as the Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) of the Criminal Investigative Division.
Charlie received the FBI’s Meritorious Medal of Bravery for helping to pull a woman from a burning car collision he encountered one day while commuting to work at FBI Headquarters.
Charlie’s last Bureau assignment was as the Special Agent in Charge of the Richmond Division.
After retiring from the FBI, he was hired as the security director of a Fortune 200 company, a regional security director for a large security company, and the director of security and emergency management for a governmental agency. Charlie is now fully retired, living in Thailand, and writing a book on the David Lindsay cocaine trafficking investigation and trial, and other cases.
Special Agent (Retired)
1/1986 – 1/2008
“Lindsay would have been the fifteenth highest ranked hero in history since the Revolutionary War for non-medal of honor recipients.”—Retired Agent Charlie Cunningham
The following are links to articles about military awards and stolen valor, as well as news reports about the investigation of David Lindsay for drug trafficking:
New Yorker Magazine – 10/26/2020: How to Spot a Military Impostor
U.S. Department of Defense – Description of Military Awards for Valor – Top 3