FBI New Orleans
Media Coordinator
(504) 816-3000
March 26, 2024

FBI New Orleans Remembers Former Special Agent in Charge

FBI New Orleans is remembering former Special Agent in Charge James Bernazzani who died Sunday, March 24, in Biloxi. Bernazzani started his career in New Orleans in June of 1984 straight out of the FBI Academy at Quantico. He would later retire after serving as head of the New Orleans Division from April 13, 2005, to May 9, 2008. His FBI career centered on leading efforts to identify, penetrate and neutralize organized criminal groups, notably international terrorism organizations.

“Jim served the American people and this city with honor and distinction for twenty-four years,” said current Special Agent in Charge Lyonel Myrthil. “He played a critical role during terrorism investigations including post-9/11 and in helping the city recover after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and we thank him for his spirited service.”

Mr. Bernazzani reported to the New Orleans Division as a new agent in October of 1984 where he worked international and domestic terrorism investigations. He was also a member of the Special Weapons and Tactical Team (SWAT). In January 1991, Special Agent Bernazzani transferred to Washington, D.C. where he worked extraterritorial cases involving terrorist actions taken against United States citizens in Western Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

He was subsequently promoted to the FBI Headquarters (HQ) Counterterrorism Section where he was responsible for the development and maintenance of national strategies countering the international threat. Special Agent Bernazzani then worked counterterrorism related jobs including his leading a Joint Terrorism Task Force in Houston, Texas and Chief of Iran/Hizballah operations at FBI HQ.

One day after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Special Agent Bernazzani was transferred to assist in countering any further actions taken against United States interests. In May 2002, he was promoted to Deputy Director for Law Enforcement at the Counterterrorism Center, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In May 2003, he was again promoted, this time to Deputy Director of the newly formed Terrorist Threat Integration Center. At the time of his appointment as Special Agent in Charge of FBI New Orleans, Mr. Bernazzani acted as Deputy Assistant Director for international terrorism investigations and operations handled by the FBI.

Mr. Bernazzani was honored with the 2006 Presidential Medal for Meritorious service by then FBI Director Robert Mueller for his actions following the devastating storms.

Mr. Bernazzani is survived by his wife, two children, and two stepchildren. He was 68 years old. FBI New Orleans extends its deepest sympathies to Mr. Bernazzani’s family and friends.

Visitation will be held Friday, April 12, 2024, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Lakelawn Funeral Home, 5100 Pontchartrain Boulevard, Metairie, LA. A funeral service will follow from 8 p.m. – 9 p.m. Separate services and burial will take place in Canton, Massachusetts April 19-20, 2024.