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Tag: Corruption

DOJ’s Top Public Corruption Investigator, Jack Smith, Takes New Job

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section has overcome some embarrassing blunders, from caving in to politicians to failing to convict former Sen. Ted Stevens and Sen. John Edwards.

In 2010, Jack Smith became the head of the beleaguered section, shouldered with the daunting responsibility of improving the prosecutors’ images as they go after public graft.

By most accounts, Smith turned around the section and last year won a highly publicized conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Smith will become the top assistant to David Rivera, the U.S. Attorney in Nashville, TN., giving him an opportunity to return to trying cases, which he has missed.

FBI Creates Squads in 3 U.S. Cities to Tackle International Corruption

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI is increasing its arsenal against international corruption by creating three squads tasked with rooting out bribery cases that happen overseas but have repercussions for the U.S., the Associated Press report.

Corruption in foreign countries is becoming a bigger focus of the FBI’s because of the expansion of the global economy, where corruption can have a rippling effect.

The initiative calls for sending about 30 agents to squads based in New York, Washington and Los Angeles.

“Corruption leads to lack of confidence in government. Lack of confidence in government leads to failed states. Failed states lead to terror and national security issues,” said Jeffrey Sallet, chief of the FBI’s public corruption and civil rights section, in an interview with the AP.

The mission of the three squads is to enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars the bribery of foreign government officials.

Ex-Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell Sentenced to 2 Years

Gov. Bob McDonnell

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Richmond to two years in prison for soliciting and obtaining payments, loans, gifts and other items from Star Scientific, a Virginia-based corporation, and Jonnie R. Williams Sr., Star Scientific’s then chief executive officer.

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen McDonnell, were convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right. McDonnell was also convicted of three counts of honest-services wire fraud and six counts of obtaining property under color of official right.

Maureen McDonnell was also convicted of two counts of honest services wire fraud counts and four counts of obtaining property under color of official right. She is set to be sentenced Feb. 20.

“Robert McDonnell corrupted the most powerful office in Virginia and fractured the public’s trust,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell in a statement. “Taking bribes in exchange for official actions is not politics as usual – it is an insidious crime that strikes at the heart of public service and will not be tolerated.”

Detroit’s Top FBI Agent Paul Abbate Talks About ISIS, Gangs, Corporate Espionage and Violence

 

Paul Abbate

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT – Paul M. Abbate arrived in Detroit last fall to take over the local FBI office, days after Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick got a hefty 28-year prison sentence. Kilpatrick was whisked away in handcuffs.

But the scent of corruption lingered, and Abbate suddenly found himself heading up an FBI office, where public corruption investigations continue to be a high priority.  In the past few years alone, besides the mess at city hall, several people in the Wayne County government have been convicted of corruption charges. That investigation remains open

Before arriving here, Abbate headed up the counterterrorism division in the FBI’s Washington Field Office, which handles terrorism investigations domestically and overseas.

Before that, he spent time at FBI headquarters, Newark,  New York, Los Angeles, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was involved in such FBI investigations as Benghazi and Pan Am 103.

October marked his first anniversary in Detroit.

A native of the New Haven,  Conn. area, the very affable Abbate, an 18-year veteran of the FBI,  recently sat down with Allan Lengel of ticklethewire.com to talk about ISIS, traditional organized crime, the agency’s relationship with the Arab-American community, local gangs and use of social media, corporate espionage, violence and how he ended up in Detroit.

“I actually asked to come here,” he says, adding that he’s been impressed with the people of Michigan.

The following is an interview with Abbate, which has been trimmed for brevity. The questions have been edited for clarity.

DD: Is there any sense that ISIS  or ISIL has any presence or connection here?

Abbate: It’s something that we’re constantly vigilant about, proactive in terms of trying to be in front.  I wouldn’t say that we have any specific or credible information that there’s an ISIL presence here in Michigan at this time. But it’s something, 24/7, we’re always on guard for.

DD: The Internet has become a big tool for recruiting. Do you see any of that activity here?

Abbate: That’s everywhere.

DD: Is that monitored out of headquarters?

Abbate: We work in conjunction with the Counterterroism Division in headquarters. And that type of investigative work is carried out throughout the 56 field offices including here as well. When you talk about focusing on a specific area, the Internet and the reach of the Internet has really broken that down. Any person sitting anywhere in the world can reach out and attempt to recruit, radicalize and incite anyone else in the world whether it’s here in Michigan or anywhere in the United States.

DD: Do you have any sense of al Qaeda having some presence here?

Abbate: Like the earlier questions you ask, I would say that we don’t have any specific or credible information with regard to any particular group like that, but that’s what we do. That’s what we’re on the watch for. It’s our top priority to identify if it’s here and prevent an attack from occurring.

DD: Do you see anything in Michigan, an exchange of people coming and going from Syria, that might concern you?

Abbate: We’re always on the look out for that. We had a case here , we had an individual who was arrested  this past March who was seeking, as alleged in the complaint, to go over to Syria to join up with a terrorist organization. We’ve had a number of cases nationally where we’ve had people travel there.

DD: How would you describe your relationship with the Arab American community here?

Abbate: I think it’s strong. Again the community outreach that we do is broad based, so I don’t like to single out any one particular community. With respect to the Arab American community, we  have a very robust outreach, with various aspects of that community and individuals. It’s strong. We go to various events that are held within the community. We hold regular meetings here to share ideas, to hear from the various communities.

DD: In some parts of the country there have been concerns over the years that the FBI has been too aggressive in monitoring activities in mosques. Is there a concern here that you’ve heard?

Abbate: I think a lot of those earlier concerns that have been around for a long time, now to a great extent, have been overcome.  Certainly that sort of distrust or concern still exists to some level, and we do continue to hear that. But I think we’ve made great strides.

Read more »

Breaking: Ex-Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell and Wife Maureen Convicted of Public Corruption

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, who had been mentioned as a vice presidential candidate at one time, was convicted Thursday in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., along with his wife Maureen, of public corruption and selling the office to a free spending Richmond businessman for golf outings, lavish vacations and $120,000 in sweetheart loans, the Washington Post reported.

Matt Zapotosky and Rosalind S. Helderman of the Post reported that a federal jury deliberated three days before serving up the verdict. Robert McDonnell was convicted of 11 counts and his wife,  nine.

The jury also acquitted the couple of several charges. 

The Post wrote:

 The verdict means that Robert McDonnell, who was already the first governor in Virginia history to be charged with a crime, now he holds an even more unwanted distinction: the first ever to be convicted of one. He and his wife face decades in federal prison, though their actual sentence will probably fall well short of that.

 

CBP Removes Head of Internal Affair in Search of More Aggressive Watchdog

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The head of internal affairs at Customs and Border Protection was removed from his position Monday following criticism that he wasn’t aggressive enough with agents accused of using inappropriate force, the Los Angeles Times reports.

James F. Tomsheck, whose job is to root out corruption among the federal government’s largest law enforcement workforce, has been given a temporary assignment.

In the meantime, the CBP asked the FBI to assign a senior agent to investigate the abuse, in what the Times described as an unusual move.

The shakeup comes after mounting criticism about widespread abuses at the county’s borders.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

FBI Makes Arrests, Raids in Public Corruption Cases in North Carolina, California & New York

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Separate corruption investigations led to the arrests of two public officials in North Carolina and California and to the raid of the office of a New York state senator, the Washington Post reports.

Hundreds of federal agents descended on offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, arresting several people including state Democratic Sen. Leland Yee and a former head of a Hong Kong-based crime syndicate.

In the North Carolina sting, FBI agents arrested Democratic Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon, charging him with theft and bribery. He’s accused of soliciting and accepting bribes, the Post reported.

And in New York, Assemblyman William Scarborough’s offices were raided, and he was questioned in his Albany hotel room. He was questioned about per diem reimbursements, he told reporters.

FBI Special Agent Leaves Public Service to Launch Private Firm Aimed at Background Checks, Surveillance


Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

FBI Special Agent Leon Martinez, who investigated 9/11 terrorists, government corruption and drug cartels in Florida, is headed to the private sector after 25 years with the bureau, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Martinez is opening a private investigative firm in Sarasota called the Executive Assessment Group, which will conduct background investigations and surveillance for criminal and civil attorneys.

“He’s a first-class guy and very professional,” said Todd Foster, a Tampa defense attorney.

Joining Martinez will be Mark Flint, a former Florida Department of Law Enforcement special agent; and Don Wenger, a retired Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office detective who supervised the Sheriff’s intelligence unit.