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Tag: Atlanta

FBI Investigating Atlanta’s $3B in Airport Vendor Contracts

Shoshanna Utchenik
ticklethewire.com

Accusations are flying in Atlanta that airport concession contracts have been rigged to favor the Mayor’s campaign contributors, reports WSBTV.

The FBI has apparently contacted several of the losing bidders to interview them about the bidding process. One bidder told WSBTV, “I answered their questions that I had a feeling things went on, but I couldn’t provide hard evidence”.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed held a fundraiser just four days before the airport bidding started. $3 Billion in contracts would be awarded, some of them to the Mayor’s key contributors. Mack Wilbourn, a prominent businessman who hosted a fundraiser for Mayor Reed, had also recently hosted President Obama. Wilbourn won upward of $350M in airport contracts.

Atlanta spokeswoman Sonji Jacobs said the city has not been contacted by the FBI, and insists “The procurement process has been fair and transparent and not a single shred of evidence has been produced to substantiate any of the losing bidders’ claims.”

… So far.

To read more click here.

 

Atlanta U.S. Atty. Finds No Bias in Cases Stripper-Loving Fed Judge Handled

Judge Jack Camp/daily report

Judge Jack Camp/daily report

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Jack Camp, you might recall, was the wild and crazy federal Atlanta judge who got busted with guns and buying drugs for a stripper he was carrying on an affair with.

He went off to prison for a very brief time — three weeks — and was set free in May 2011.

Long after he’d been released, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta continued to exam cases he had handled to determine if there was any racial bias or signs of mental impairment. There were allegations by the stripper, who cooperated with the FBI, that Camp made some racist remarks. There were also some who claimed his judgment might have been impaired following a serious bicycle accident and subsequent drug use.

Well, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the U.S. Attorney has now concluded that in 28 cases in which defendants had requested a second look at their cases before Camp, there was no evidence of racial bias or mental impairment in sentences or rulings.

“Today, the U.S. attorney has publicly confirmed what I never doubted throughout this ordeal,” Camp said Thursday in an emailed statement to the Atlanta paper. “I am pleased the report vindicates that my decisions were fair, impartial and true to the law.”

To read more click here.

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FBI: Cop Tipped Off Drug Dealers

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is alleging that  a Georgia cop tipped off drug dealers about an upcoming raid by the bureau, charges that the cop says are untrue, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Gabriel Hoskins III, the police officer, plead not guilty to the charges on Thursday, but was placed on supervised release with a $10,000 unsecured bond, according to the Journal-Constitution. The accusation claims Hoskins was looking up names and identifying information of suspected drug dealers in the FBI’s criminal database, then used the information to tip the drug dealers off.

“It’s very disturbing when law enforcement reveals to criminals that other law enforcement will be conducting a search warrant,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBurney told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It endangers the officers doing the search warrant, and it makes it very likely that whatever evidence might have been in that apartment … like drugs, guns, ledgers … might be destroyed.”

Hoskins is said to have befriended a couple of drug dealers who lived in his apartment complex. He was a volunteer officer  for about a year, working just 16 hours a week.

To read more click here.

49 Indicted in Atlanta on Guns and Arms Charges; Seven Sentenced

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Seven Atlanta men, who were busted in a major crackdown on guns and drugs,  have been sentenced, ATF announced Tuesday. Sentences ranged from 12 months to 151 months.

The men were among 49 defendants indicted in Atlanta, the result of  an undercover ATF investigation that was known as “ATL Blaze.” Undercover agents had spread word that they were looking for arms and drugs, ultimately acquiring 257 handguns, 60 rifles, 46 shotguns, and 10 short-barreled “sawed-off” shotguns from the streets of Atlanta, according to the press release.

In all, 49 people were indicted on charges ranging from conspiring to commit a home robbery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of an unregistered short-barreled rifle, possession of a stolen firearm, unlawful dealing in firearms without a license, possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, and aggravated identity theft, says the ATF.

To read more click here.

Column: Santa’s Helper, a Giant Elf, a Cuban Inmate Uprising and the Salvation Army

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.
 

Greg Stejskal

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

This is a Christmas story, but it really began just before Thanksgiving in 1987, at the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta.

The Cuban inmates had rioted and had taken control of a sizeable portion of the penitentiary. The catalyst for the riots happened years before that in 1980.

The Mariel boatlift, a massive exodus of Cuban refugees from Cuba to the US, had among its refugees, convicted criminals. Fidel Castro had apparently thought the boatlift was an opportune time to decrease his prison over-crowding.

Upon arrival in the US those Cubans who were determined to be criminals were detained and placed in US penitentiaries with no clear plan as to what to do with them in the long term.

This uncertain future led predictably to unrest and ultimately to the prison riots.

When the inmates rioted and took control of part of the Atlanta Penitentiary, they also took some of the staff hostage.

The FBI was tasked with negotiating with the inmates and providing SWAT teams should it become necessary to retake control of the penitentiary by force and rescue the hostages.

SWAT teams from many of the large offices were called to respond to Atlanta. Our Detroit team was one of those teams.

So on a cold, rainy November night, an Air Force C-141, flying a circuit, landed at Detroit Metro Airport to pick up our team. Already on board were teams from Pittsburgh and Cleveland. We arrived in Atlanta early the next morning.

The Atlanta Penitentiary is a foreboding place. It was built in phases beginning in the late 1800s, into the first few decades of the 1900s.

It has 60-foot walls with watch towers on each corner. Upon our arrival we climbed to the top of one of the watch towers and looked down into the prison yard. It looked like a scene from a post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” movie.

Inmates were walking around the yard, all carrying homemade weapons: long-knives, swords, etc., made from scrap metal and sharpened on some of the prison machine tools.

After seeing that scene, we all assumed we were going to be in Atlanta for awhile. We knew we would prevail if it came to having to use force. After all they had made the critical tactical mistake of bringing knives to a gun fight. But they had hostages and a large supply of non-perishable food in their control.

The next morning I was walking to the Penitentiary administration building for the shift change briefing when I saw a tent where free coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts were being served. It was the Salvation Army tent. The Salvation Army was there every day of the insurrection including Thanksgiving serving coffee, donuts, smiles and kind words. I’ve been on a lot of SWAT operations, but I had never been offered coffee, donuts or kind words from the neighborhood in which we were operating.

Knowing the Salvation Army was there for us, had me thinking that I owed this selfless organization a debt – a pay it forward kind of thing.

The penitentiary insurrection was resolved peacefully after about two weeks. The key factor was that no social order was developed among the inmates just anarchy. They went through several months food supply in days. (There are a lot of good stories from the “siege” of the Atlanta Penitentiary, but those can be told another time.) We all went back to our respective homes.

I didn’t forget the Salvation Army’s generosity. I decided every holiday season for a few hours, I would volunteer to ring the bell and tend the red kettle in my hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Some years later, I was ringing the bell at a local super market with my wife. We had both donned our Santa hats and were wearing the Salvation Army issue red vests. It was snowing lightly, the Christmas lights were shining and Christmas carols were playing on the stores PA system.

We were at one door of the store greeting shoppers and collecting donations in our kettle, when all of a sudden there was a commotion at the other door.

A man ran out of the store. He was closely followed by two other men in white butcher smocks. The men in the smocks tackled the man in the parking lot. They were trying to hold him down, but he was struggling & screaming as they pulled several cuts of meat from under his coat. The erstwhile meat thief continued to yell, flail and kick.

I turned to my wife and said, “I should probably go help them.” I kept flex-cuffs (large heavy duty zip-ties) in my car. I grabbed some flex-cuffs, walked over and knelt next to the struggling man.

He was facing away from me. In my “soothing,” authoritative voice, that I used for arrests and reading someone their rights, I told him, we could let him up, but he needed to let me put these cuffs on him.

The man turned his head to look at me, and his eyes got very big.

I’m about 6’4” and weighed about 235 lbs. I had forgotten I was wearing a Santa hat and a big red vest. After staring at me for a few moments, he asked, “who are you?” I smiled and replied, “I’m Santa’s helper.”

He immediately stopped fighting and struggling. He submissively allowed me to place the cuffs on him. The butchers and I stood him up, and he placidly waited for the police to arrive.

I have often thought there might be some profound Dickens type message to be derived from this incident. I don’t know if the meat thief was stealing prime rib for his family, sort of a protein version of Jean Valjean, or maybe he was planning to host a barbecue at a homeless enclave.

There is certainly some irony in collecting donations for the Salvation Army at one door of a grocery store, and at the same time, to have an economically disadvantaged meat thief fleeing from the other door.

Maybe the message is as simple as, if you’re poor and hungry at Christmas time, there are places other than your local grocery store you can go that care, like the Salvation Army.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

 

Single and Hate Internet Dating? Accused Scammer Mitchell Gross Won’t Make You Feel Better

Mitchell Gross/aka Mitchell Graham/from his website

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

For singles who have their doubts about Internet dating; Meet Mitchell Gross, aka fiction author Mitchell Graham.

The feds in Atlanta on Thursday announced the indictment of the 61-year-old on charges of wire fraud and money laundering after he allegedly duped at least two women he met on a Jewish dating site into investing millions of dollars in a phony investment company.

OYE!

“This defendant allegedly met women through an online dating service and posed as someone who wanted a committed romantic relationship, but who in fact was interested in luring them into investing their savings with a phony company,” said Atlanta U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in a statement.

“The unsuspecting victims transferred millions of dollars into bank accounts controlled by the defendant, who allegedly depleted the funds to pay back previous victims and enrich himself.”

Authorities said Gross, who published novels under the name “Mitchell Graham” met a woman on the dating site in June 2006 and struck up a romance.

Gross told the woman — authorities referred to only as “R.J”– that he  was independently wealthy and financially secure and that his wealth dramatically increased as a result of the successful investment of his funds by “Michael Johnson,” supposedly a licensed stock broker employed by a subsidiary of Merrill Lynch known as “The Merrill Company.”

In fact, “Michael Johnson” was an alias used by Gross himself, and “The Merrill Company” did not exist.

R.J. called a phone number provided by Gross and spoke to “Michael Johnson” who in fact was Gross, who was disguising his voice.

The woman ultimately wired approximately $2.99 million to an account she believed belonged to “The Merrill Company,” which was actually controlled by Gross.

As part of the scheme, Gross sent the woman IRS 1099 forms that falsely reported dividend and interest income purportedly earned on her “Merrill Company” investment accounts. Gross also sent phony “Merrill Company” account statements to be delivered to R.J.

Authorities said that Gross used the funds to repay a former girlfriend, who had invested about $1.4 million with “The Merrill Company.”

 

Scott Sweetow Named Head of ATF’s Atlanta Division

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Scott Sweetow, who began his career with ATF in 1990 in Los Angeles, has been named special agent in charge of the agency’s Atlanta division.

Sweetow spent several years assigned in the Arson and Explosives group, and served as a Certified Explosives Specialist. His duties included being part of ATF’s elite National Response Team, which investigated such high-profile crimes as the Oklahoma City bombing and the Centennial Olympic Park bombings.

He also spent several years working criminal intelligence matters, including a weapons case targeting the “The Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman’s one time driver and bodyguard, Hikmat Alharahshah.

Specifically, in 1999, Sweetow became a supervisory special agent in the Phoenix Field Division, serving in operations and as violent crime enforcement group supervisor.

In 2003, he went to ATF headquarters where he served in the Policy Development and Evaluation branch, eventually becoming its chief. In July of that year, he became the first ATF agent to “deploy operationally to Iraq”, assisting the Defense Intelligence Agency as part of the Iraq Survey Group.

In 2004, Sweetow was promoted to a deputy division chief and later chief in the Arson, Explosives and International Training Division in ATF’s Training and Professional Development directorate. He remained there until  December 2006.

While division chief, Sweetow was instrumental in establishing ATF’s $50 million National Center for Explosives Training and Research at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

In January 2007, Sweetow became an Assistant Special Agent in Charge in the Atlanta Field Division. This month, he was named the SAC in Atlanta.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Russian and Soviet Area Studies and a masters in Strategic Intelligence. He is a graduate of Harvard University’s Senior Executives in National and International Security program.

In 2009, Scott he  published an article in “Homeland Security Today” entitled “After Mumbai: Facing the Flames” which dealt with the use of fire as an asymmetric warfare tool by terrorists.

FBI Helps Hunt Ex-NBA Player Wanted for Murder

Javaris Crittenton/facebook photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Javaris Crittenton, who was suspended by the NBA in a gun incident in Washington in 2009, was not the most sought after player in the league.

But now he feels more wanted — by the FBI that is.

The Associated Press reports that the FBI is helping Atlanta and Los Angeles police search for the former NBA player on charges of murder.

AP reports that Crittenton is wanted in the fatal shooting of Jullian Jones, 22, a mother of four who was murdered on Aug. 19 in Atlanta. AP reported that she was not the intended target when Crittention opened fire from an SUV.

Authorities say Jones likely was not the intended target when Crittenton fired shots from an SUV. Authorities say Crittenton was retaliating for an April robbery in which he was a victim.

Crittenton had a limited career, having played a total of 113 games for teams like the Washington Wizards and the Memphis Grizzlies.

In 2010, he pleaded guilty and got probation for a gun possession charge after he and then-Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas pulled guns on each other in the locker room over a gambling debts.  Both were suspended, but he never returned to the Wizards.

He eventually ended up playing for the Dakota Wizards, a minor league basketball team.

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