Last Word – Public Justice: Education, Career and History

William Eric Plunkett ’81

William Eric Plunkett ’81

I’m from a family of SUNY Oswego graduates; father, sister, two brothers and a cousin. I entered Oswego as a junior in the Public Justice program in the fall of 1979. My schedule included Public Justice 301 with Dr. Norman Weiner in one of the large lecture rooms at Lanigan Hall. I had never been enrolled in such a large class and had some difficulty with the course. Dr. Weiner was a demanding professor, but with a large number of students, you have to be. He forced you as a student to think for yourself, as his exams involved quite a bit of essay writing.

I went on to have Dr. Weiner as a professor in all my semesters at Oswego. He used to always say, “Every solution creates another problem.” Boy, isn’t that the truth.

FBI Agent Nelson B. Klein

FBI Agent Nelson B. Klein

Not being someone who is overly adept at writing, it still amazes me that I had a book published. I was still in the FBI in 2008 when I started the research on an FBI agent who was killed in the line of duty in 1935 as a result of adversarial action. The victim, a young agent named Nelson B. Klein, was assigned to the Cincinnati FBI office, and was the first FBI agent killed in the line of duty since the bureau’s official establishment in 1935. His killer, a nasty career criminal from Kentucky by the name of George W. Barrett, was the first man executed under a new statute that made the murder of a government agent a federal offense.

My research began when I attended a memorial service for Agent Klein, held in Southgate, Kentucky, nearly 75 years after Klein’s death in the deadly shootout beside a flower garden in the little town just north of Cincinnati. Feeling melancholy for the forgotten agent, I took
on Klein as my personal case.

p48-bookThe G-Man and the Diamond King: A True FBI Crime Story of the 1930s is not only the story of two men whose paths crossed in a backyard shootout with tragic results; it is the story of one of America’s most dangerously exciting decades­­—and the birth of modern crime-fighting.

All proceeds from book sales will go to the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI Foundation.

About the Author

William Eric Plunkett ’81 is an Oswego, N.Y., native who spent his career as an FBI agent in Syracuse, N.Y., Cincinnati, Ohio; and Washington, D.C. He was involved in counterintelligence operations with the Central Intelligence Agency, and investigated national security matters.

He is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI, The Knights of Columbus and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and enjoys golf, kayaking and cycling.

One thought on “Last Word – Public Justice: Education, Career and History

  1. My family has just discovered this book after visiting with my Aunt Betty Crothers Klein in Savannah GA. She is the widow of Nelson B Klein Jr. Our family has passed this story down for years and are very excited that Mr Plunkett decided to write about it. My curious husband googled my uncles name last week while we were in Georgia and miraculously found the book. I am loving the details and the pictures. Lynn Crothers Reich.

Leave a Reply