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Archive for December 22nd, 2009

Fed Agents Behaving Badly in 2009

By Allan Lengel
For  AOL News

WASHINGTON — The Inept Criminal is by now a well-established and extensively chronicled archetype, with whole Web sites devoted to the misadventures of dumb, stupid and just plain crazy law-breakers. But law enforcement has its own share of bunglers, and Sphere believes they deserve attention, too. Herewith, a sampling of some of the federal officers who ran afoul of statutes, and common sense, this past year.

FBI Agent Shot A Chihuahua Just Like This One/istock photo

FBI Agent Shot A Chihuahua Just Like This One/istock photo

Yo Quiero Peace and Quiet
Even their biggest fans would concede that those lovable Chihuahuas (Taco Bell pitchmen and otherwise) can be a little annoying at times. Well, Waco, Texas, FBI agent Lovett Leslie Ledger decided to put a stop to the yapping of his neighbor’s Chihuahua, Sassy, in 2008 by shooting Sassy with a pellet gun. The barking ended, but Ledger’s troubles had just begun. Earlier this year, he pleaded no contest to a felony charge for animal cruelty and was put on two years’ probation and given 300 hours of community service. He also became the target of an internal probe and left the FBI in October.

Agent Slep with FBI Informant Lori Mody

Agent Slept with FBI Informant Lori Mody

Internal Affairs
Unlike Tiger Woods, FBI agent John Guandolo actually went to the trouble of making his own record of his extramarital relations, compiling a list of the indiscretions at the suggestion of his therapist, who thought the exercise would help Guandolo assess the damage his philandering had done to his marriage. As it turned out, said list included female FBI agents, as well as a key witness in the public corruption case of ex-Rep. William Jefferson. Worse still, a co-worker found the list and turned it over to a supervisor late last year. Guandolo quit, but in June, the U.S. attorney’s office learned of the memo and notified the court shortly before the Jefferson trial began, which in turn led to the memo’s going public in September.

phoenix-map

External Affairs
In 2002, in the line of duty, FBI agent Joe L. Gordwin of Phoenix arrested a man as part of gang investigation. Then, stepping way over the line, he started having an affair with the man’s wife. Two years later, the husband got out of prison, and the affair was briefly put on hold; when it resumed, Gordwin tipped off Scottsdale, Ariz., police that the husband was again up to no good. The husband, along with his son, was arrested for a robbery at a Radio Shack; Gordwin, now fearing the husband was going to rat him out, decided to confess the sordid sage to his supervisor. Told to end the affair, Gordwin instead told his mistress to lie to investigators. Gordwin pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges linked to covering up the improper sexual relationship and received four years probation.

Linda Fiorentino

Linda Fiorentino

Not a Hollywood Ending
Dapper FBI agent Mark Rossini leaked a secret FBI document to his girlfriend, actress Linda Fiorentino, who in turn gave it to the attorney for rogue detective Anthony Pellicano, who went on trial for illegally wiretapping some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Pellicano was convicted anyway; Rossini lost his $140,000 a year FBI job, and, contrary to the stereotypical celluloid plotline, also lost the girl: Eventually it was splitsville for him and Fiorentino.

drunk driving

Spinner Out of Control
FBI spokeswoman Lori Bailey was the voice of the bureau down in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but on this case, she had little to say. In September, she pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges stemming from a 2008 arrest, which KRLD news radio reported came after she caused a wrong-way crash on the Dallas North Tollway while driving at a high rate of speed. Having stepped down from her post shortly after the arrest, she was sentenced to probation and fined $900.

Testing Their Luck

Cheating on an exam is one thing; cheating on an open-book exam, quite another. But such is the focus of an internal investigation into whether three top agents in the FBI’s Washington field office — head of the office Joseph Persichini Jr. and special agents in charge Keith Bryars and Andrew Castor — worked together on the test and also got help from an FBI lawyer, in violation of bureau policy.Persichini, who was already planning to retire soon, is leaving Dec. 25. Word has it the two other agents may get demoted and reassigned to offices in Virginia and Maryland.

ice cube


Hold the ICE

Richard P. Cramer was a high-ranking Immigration and Customs Enforcement official who worked along the border between Arizona and Guadalajara, Mexico. Unfortunately, say the feds, he was also working for the wrong side. Cramer left ICE in 2007, but in September, authorities arrested him for allegedly having helped large-scale drug traffickers smuggle cocaine into the U.S. by providing them with inside info. Authorities also allege that it was the drug smuggling organization that convinced Cramer to retire — so he could get directly involved with its drug-running and money-laundering businesses.

Dead Military Mexican Man’s Family Murdered — Possibly by Drug Traffickers

mexico-border-signBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The ugly — and only getting uglier — side of the drug war in Mexico reared its head Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Times reported that gunmen killed at least three relatives of a Mexican special forces sailor,  Melquisedec Angulo Córdova. The sailor died in a raid last week that resulted in the death of one of Mexico’s top drug lords, Arturo Beltran Leyva.

The death of the drug lord had been hailed as a major victory by both Mexican and American authorities.

The paper, attributing the information to the Mexican station Televisa, said gunmen burst into the sailor’s family’s home in Tabasco shortly after midnight and killed his mother and two cousins. Other media reported that a sister was also killed.

The paper said authorities suspect drug traffickers might have been trying to send a message to the Mexican military.

For Full Story

Withholding Autopsy Report of Imam Killed by FBI in Michigan Raises Suspicions

dearbornBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Muslim community in the Detroit area is raising questions about a delay in the release of a medical examiner’s report on the death of an Imam, who was shot and killed by the FBI on Oct. 28, the Detroit News is reporting.

“The unfortunate and perhaps unintended consequence is that the failure to release the autopsy report and the very exorbitant amount for the pictures is raising in the minds of some people in the community that there’s a potential cover-up,” Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on Islamic-American Relations of Michigan told the Detroit News.

The FBI shot and killed Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah , 53, during a raid at a Dearborn warehouse that was part of a probe into a fencing operation. Authorities alleged that the Imam shot and killed an FBI dog before he was shot and killed.

The News reported that Dennis Niemiec, a spokesman for the county, said Monday that the report is complete, but the Dearborn police chief does not want to release it until his department’s investigation into the matter is complete.

FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold told the News it’s not up to the FBI whether to release the report, but evidence is often not made public during an investigation.

For Full story

FBI Investigated Michael Jackson in 2 Child Molestation Cases, New Files Show

Michael Jackson file/fbi art

Michael Jackson file/fbi art

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

By Larry McShane
New York Daily News

The FBI investigated Michael Jackson in a pair of child molestation cases 11 years apart – with neither ever going to trial, according to explosive new documents made public Tuesday.

The first case dated to September 1993, when the FBI’s Los Angeles field office was notified by the Los Angeles Police Department that Jackson was under investigation in a molestation case.

An FBI document at the time said there was a probe involving “Jackson concerning the transportation of a minor across state lines.”

Federal prosecutors opted not to prosecute Jackson under the Mann Act and even declined to attend a meeting about the allegation, according to the documents.

For Full NY Daily News Story

NEW YORK POST

By JANON FISHER, JEANE MacINTOSH and KATE SHEEHY
New York Post

NEW YORK — An explosive dossier that the FBI kept on Michael Jackson and released today show he had once been allegedly accused of molesting two Mexico boys in the mid-1980s but that the case was supposedly covered up.

An unnamed source told the FBI that while researching a book he was writing about Jackson, he was informed that the agency had investigated the charge in 1985 or 1986.

But the case wasn’t pursued because “Jackson was to receive an honor at the White House from the president,” the person said he was told. He added that his source insisted to him, “The investigation was covered up.”

To Read More of the NY Post Story

FBI files from 1992-1993 (PDF, 196 pages)

FBI files from Sept. 1993 to Aug. 1994 (PDF, 56 pages)

FBI files from Sept. 1993 to Oct. 1993 (PDF, 9 pages)

FBI files from Oct. 1995 to Jan. 1997 (PDF, 8 pages)

FBI files from Jan. 2004 to April 2004 (PDF, 41 pages)

FBI files from Sept. 2004 to Dec. 2004 (PDF, 5 pages)

FBI files from March 2004 to June 2005 (PDF, 18 pages)

Oye: Rabbi Off to Fed Prison for A Not So Kosher Tax Fraud Scheme

grand rabbi
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Simply put, it wasn’t kosher — not even close.

Naftali Tzi Weisz, 61, the grand rabbi of Spinka, a religious Jewish orthodox group, was sentenced Monday in Los Angeles to two years in prison for orchestrating a tax-cheat scheme prosecutors called “an astonishingly complex and sinister enterprise.”

Authorities say the Brooklyn rabbi and his assistant Gabbai Moshe E. Zingerman, 62,  solicited millions of dollars in donations and then refunded up to 95 percent of the money, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Donors were then able to claim tax deductions for the entire amount while only actually donating five percent of the money, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The assistant also received a two year sentence.

To date, authorities said, seven people have been sentenced in the case and the investigation is ongoing.

Judge Rules Detroit Fed Prosecutor’s Emails Are Private

Ex-Prosecutor Convertino
Ex-Prosecutor Convertino

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A Detroit assistant U.S. Attorney doesn’t have to provide his emails in a controversial lawsuit involving a former colleague who is suing the Justice Department over leaks to the Detroit Free Press.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of Washington ruled earlier this month that former federal prosecutor Richard Convertino can’t see any of assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel’s emails to his private attorney or those involving Justice Department work.

Convertino has indicated that he thinks Tukel was the one who may have leaked information about an Office of Professional Responsibility investigation targeting him.

“We need to encourage candid communications among government officials allowing officials to deliberate honestly with each other, without fear that they discussions will be exposed to the public,” Judge Lamberth wrote in a ruling favoring Tukel, who had opposed the release.

He added that “Mr. Tukel reasonably expected that his emails with his personal attorney to remain confidential.”

Convertino, an aggressive prosecutor who became a controversial figure in the office, resigned in 2005 while under investigation for a 2003 terrorism case he prosecuted and won.

The convictions were later overturned and he was indicted on obstruction of justice charges, which alleged that he withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense and allowed false testimony during trial. He was eventually acquitted.

The emails included communications with his attorney and on Justice Department cases. The judge ruled that both were privileged and protected from being released.

Read the Judge’s Ruling

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