One source said Macys was suspended not for providing the explosives, but for his evaluation of the FBI's liability in the police plan to roust MOVE members from the group's fortified Osage Avenue compound in West Philadelphia.
Until now, no formal action has been taken against any government official or law enforcement officer involved in the MOVE incident, despite highly critical reports by federal and state investigative grand juries and a blistering report by the Mayor's Special Investigation Commission.
Macys, assigned to the Philadelphia FBI office, received a hand-delivered letter from John Otto, executive assistant director of the FBI - the agency's No. 2 man - notifying him of the suspension on "Thursday or Friday," sources said.
It was not clear what problem Otto had with Macys' evaluation, or why the action was taken nearly four years after the incident, the sources said.
Otto apparently reversed a recommendation by the Philadelphia FBI office to take no action against Macys, said sources close to the investigation.
Assistant Director Ed Leary yesterday declined to confirm or deny whether there was a suspension.
Word of Macys' suspension enraged many members of the Philadelphia law enforcement community who had worked with the agent.
"This is the most unfair personnel action I've ever seen," said a federal source familiar with the Philadelphia FBI office. "Macys has as high a character as anyone I've ever met. He's a perfect family man, he gives the FBI a full day's work every day. It just bugs me that four years after the incident, he's the one to take the fall."
Neither Macys nor his attorney, Peter F. Schneck, could be reached for comment.
Following the MOVE bombing, the FBI and the Police Department were criticized for failing to keep a record of explosives kept in the bomb storage locker at the Police Academy.
In 1985, Macys was the FBI's bomb expert, and worked hand in hand with Philadelphia police.
Macys gave 37 1/2 pounds of C-4, one of the most powerful of military explosives, to the Philadelphia police bomb disposal unit for training purposes in January 1985, investigations revealed. No record of the C-4 was kept.
According to the MOVE Commission report, an FBI agent - later identified as Macys - withheld information from his superiors about the unauthorized cache of C-4 because he was "in fear of losing my job."
Some FBI agents were so outraged by the suspension that they began a fund- raising effort on Friday to make up the month's pay that Macys will lose. Sources estimated that Macys will lose more than $3,000 in take-home pay and at least $6,000 in legal fees.
The only person prosecuted in the disaster was MOVE member Ramona Africa, who was sentenced to 16 months to seven years for riot and conspracy.