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Fallen FBI agent Sam Hicks thrived undercover

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By The The Tribune-Review
Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008

Sam Hicks never was one for a desk job.

The FBI agent killed yesterday while serving a drug warrant in Indiana Township spent five years on the front line of the drug war in Baltimore, often waiting undercover for deals on notorious street corners.

"He and his squad loved nothing more than crawling through some dirty, abandoned rowhouse at 4 a.m. and watching everything that happened on a drug corner," said Baltimore City Police Sgt. Steve Hohman, who worked with Hicks in the Organized Crime Division, where he served until February 2007. The two men are related through marriage.

Hicks, 33, of Richland, grew up in Westmoreland County and graduated from Southmoreland High School in 1993. He wrote in his yearbook that he planned a career in law enforcement. The FBI said he also had worked as a teacher.

Allegheny County police charged Christina Korbe, 40, with homicide in his shooting. She was arraigned overnight and is being held without bond in the Allegheny County Jail. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 26, according to online court documents.

Korbe, who was not named in the drug indictment, was taken from county police headquarters on a stretcher by Pittsburgh paramedics after complaining of stomach pains shortly after 6 p.m. She was transported to Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC for treatment.

Her husband, Robert Korbe, 39, was the target of the drug raid. He was taken into custody yesterday and faced drug charges.

According to a criminal complaint:

Christina Korbe called 911 at 6:05 a.m. and told emergency dispatchers that she believed her home was being burglarized and that she shot an intruder with a .38-caliber handgun. She was still on the phone when officers ran upstairs and took her into custody.

She said she did not know that those who broke down the door were police officers.

Hicks, who leaves behind a wife, Brooke, and 3-year-old son, Noah, was wearing a protective vest. He was taken to UPMC St. Margaret where he died at 6:52 a.m.

Police said the bullet struck Hicks underneath his collarbone and entered his chest cavity.

"He wasn't one of those guys happy to make detective just for their resume," Hohman said. "He was out there on the street working, every day."

Hicks joined the Baltimore City Police Department in June 2002 but started applying to the FBI not long after being transferred in July 2005 from patrol to the Organized Crime Division, which conducts narcotics investigations, Baltimore police said.

The FBI hired Hicks in March 2007 and transferred him to the Pittsburgh office that August.

Hicks generally was a "quiet, shy" person, although he was close enough to other officers in Baltimore that he took part in at least four of their weddings in the past year, Hohman said.

Hicks' wife, Brooke, is a sister to Hohman's sister-in-law, so the two officers often met at family gatherings, where Hohman's 1-year-old daughter would play with Hicks' 3-year-old son, Noah.

Charlotte Mowry of Mt. Pleasant, Hicks' great-aunt, said the fallen agent always wanted a career in law enforcement.

"He was very bright, with a wonderful mind. To me, this is such a waste of brain power for him to be killed like that," Mowry said.

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