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March 2023


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Proud Boy Trial Halted After Revelation That Witness Was FBI Informant

Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo via Shutterstock.

By Steve Neavling

The seditious conspiracy trial involving the Proud Boys was temporarily halted this week after prosecutors revealed that a defense witness has been an FBI informant since 2021, defense attorneys said in a court filing. 

“During this period of time, the [informant] has been in contact via telephone, text messaging and other electronic means, with one or more of the counsel for the defense and at least one defendant,” Carmen Hernandez, an attorney for one of the five Proud Boys, Zachary Rehl, said in a motion, Politico reports.

The trial, which has stretched into its fourth month, involves five Proud Boy members who are charged with conspiring to block the transfer of presidential power to Joe Biden after the 2020 election. 

Prosecutors argued that the informant was never involved in gathering information on the far-right group and that her relationship with the bureau ended after she was asked to appear as a witness. 

Prosecutors said they had no idea the informant was communicating with the defendants or their counsel. 

“This is all news to the government,” said Denise Cheung, acting deputy chief of DOJ’s criminal division.

Norm Pattis, one of the defense attorneys, said the revelation should put an end to the trial. 

“I don’t want the trial to proceed,” Pattis said. 

A judge will determine when – and if – to resume the trial.

FBI Agents Rescue Hostages, Fatally Shoot One Suspect, During Multiple-Day Operation

By Steve Neavling

FBI agents rescued two hostages and killed one suspect and arrested another Thursday morning following a multiple-day rescue effort in the Houston area. 

The hostages were “safely rescued” from a Studio 6 motel, where two suspects had kept them, James Smith, the special agent in charge of the bureau’s Houston Field Office, said, The New York Times reports.

“No agents were injured,” Smith said. “At this time, there is no threat to public safety.”

The rescue operation began several days earlier when the kidnappers took the migrants from a vehicle in a neighboring county. 

The migrants were stopped by an unknown number of people and forced into another vehicle. 

More details weren’t available Friday morning.

The bureau is investigating the shooting. 

4 Charged, 1 Sentenced in Case Involving Exporting U.S. Technology to Iran

By Allan Lengel

Multiple defendants face charges of procuring and and exporting U.S. technology to Iran between 2005 and 2013, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Authorities unsealed two indictments in D.C. federal court involving charges of violating the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

One indictment alleges that between 2012 and 2013, Amanallah Paidar of Iran and Murat Bükey of Turkey, conspired to procure and export U.S. technology for Iran through their companies Farazan Industrial Engineering, in Iran, and Ozon Spor Ve Hobbi Ürünleri, in Turkey.

Specifically, authorities allege that Paidar and Bükey exported from the U.S., and transshipped through Turkey, a device that can test the efficacy and power of fuel cells. They also attempted to obtain a bio-detection system for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) research and use.

Bükey was extradited to the U.S. from Spain last July and pleaded guilty in December. He was sentenced Monday in D.C. to 28 months in prison, with credit for time served. He will be deported after completing his sentence. Paidar remains at large.

The other indictment alleges that between 2005 and 2009, Agshar Mahmoudi of Iran; Bahram Mahmoudi Mahmoud Alilou of Iran and Shahin Golshani, of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) conspired to obtain U.S. technology, including a high-speed camera that has known nuclear and ballistic missile testing applications, a nose landing gear assembly for an F-5 fighter jet, and a meteorological sensor system, through their companies Aran Modern Devices Kish Company in Iran; and Modern Technologies in the UAE, the Justice Department said. The defendants are fugitives.  

“These defendants sought to obtain valuable U.S.- origin goods that could assist Iran’s military and WMD aspirations, and in some instances, they were successful,” U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia said in a statement. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and our federal law enforcement partners will zealously pursue those who break these laws and harm our national security interests, regardless of where in the world they operate.” 

Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler, Jr. of the FBI Counterintelligence Division, added:

“With the help of our U.S. agency and international partners, the FBI thwarted an attempt to export advanced, American controlled, technological systems and goods,” said Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler, Jr. of the FBI Counterintelligence Division.

Trump Reportedly Wants to Be Handcuffed During Potential Arrest to Look Strong

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

Former President Trump told his advisors he wants his potential arrest to be a “spectacle” that includes handcuffs and a “perp walk,” The New York Times and Guardian report.

The 76-year-old also reportedly debated whether he should smile for the news cameras and described the potential experience as fun. 

He also wants to avoid the appearance of any special treatment. 

His friends and associates aren’t entirely sure if he’s serious, but it appears he doesn’t want to look weak.

Whether Trump gets his wishes isn’t clear. Arrangements likely will be made between the Secret Service and law enforcement to avoid a throng of reporters out of concern for his safety. 

His lawyers also have urged him to surrender quietly and be arraigned remotely if he’s indicted, the Guardian reports.  

Trump claimed on social media that he was going to be arrested Tuesday, but that never happened.

The Justice Department is seeking an indictment for his role in the hush money scheme involving Stormy Daniels. 

Susan Ferensic to Lead FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate

FBI headquarters, via FBI

By Steve Neavling

Susan Ferensic has been named assistant director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD) at FBI headquarters. 

Ferensic, who most recently served as the special agent in charge of the Columbia Field Office in South Carolina, will head an office that mitigates threats from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive weapons.

Ferensic joined the bureau in 1997 as a computer forensic examiner in the Laboratory Division. 

After she was selected for new agent training in 2000, she was assigned to investigate criminal and national security computer intrusion in the Washington Field Office.

In 2007, Ferensic became supervisory special agent in the Cyber Division at FBI headquarters, where she was a program manager for criminal computer intrusion investigations. 

She moved to the Albuquerque Field Office in New Mexico in 2009 to head the cyber and technically trained agent squad and served and supervised Albuquerque’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

In 2014, Ferensic was promoted to special assistant to the executive assistant director of the Science and Technology Branch at FBI headquarters. 

In 2016, she became assistant special agent in charge of the Criminal Branch of the Sacramento Field Office in California.

In 2018, Ferensic transferred to section chief of the Digital Forensics and Analytics Section in the Operational Technology Division at FBI headquarters. The following year, she was promoted to chief of staff of the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch at FBI headquarters. 

In 2020, Ferensic was named special agent in charge of the Columbia Field Office.

Ferensic received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Maryland. Before working at the bureau, she was a computer scientist at the Department of Defense.

Judge Says Special Counsel Made Convincing Case That Trump Misled His Attorneys in Classified Documents Case

Former President Trump

By Steve Neavling

The special counsel team investigating Donald Trump convinced a judge that the former president knowingly and deliberately misled his attorneys in furtherance of a crime connected to classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, ABC News first reported, citing sources. 

D.C. District Court Judge Beryl Howell found that prosecutors in special counsel Jack Smith’s office had made a “prima facie showing that the former president had committed criminal violations.”

As a result, Howell ruled that prosecutors have overcome Trump’s right to shield discussions with his lawyers that are usually protected under attorney-client privilege. 

Still, the judge emphasized that prosecutors need to meet a higher standard of evidence to justify charges against Trump. 

“It is a lower hurdle, but it is an indication that the government had presented some evidence and allegation that they had evidence that met the elements of a crime,” Brandon Van Grack, a former top national security official in the Justice Department, told ABC News.

In her sealed filing, Howell said Trump’s defense attorney Evan Corcoran should comply with a grand jury subpoena to testify on six separate lines of inquiry. 

According to the sources, Howell also said Corcoran must turn over records involving Trump’s alleged “criminal scheme.”

DEA Warns about New Potent Drug Combination That Is Causing Increase in Overdoses

Fentanyl is one of the leading causes of drug overdoses in the U.S. Photo: Shutterstock

By Steve Neavling

The DEA issued an alert about an emerging public safety threat – fentanyl mixed with xylazine, a veterinary tranquilizer that has been involved in an increasing number of overdoses.

In the alert, the DEA warned of a “sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine,” which is also known as “tranq” and “tranq dope.”

“Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, fentanyl, even deadlier,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in the alert. “DEA has seized xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 of 50 states. The DEA Laboratory System is reporting that in 2022 approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine.”

The potent mixture increases the likelihood of an overdose. Since xylazine is not an opioid, Narcan cannot reverse its effects. 

Nearly 108,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses between August 2021 and August 2022, with 66% of those deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to the CDC. 

The FDA recently warned health care providers about the risks of xylazine.

4 Oath Keeper Members Found Guilty of Conspiracy to Obstruct Congress

Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo via Shutterstock.

By Steve Neavling

Four members of the Oath Keepers were convicted of conspiring to obstruct the work of Congress on Monday for their role in the Jan. 6, 2021, siege on the U.S. Capitol. 

It was the third and final trial stemming from the far-right group’s attack on the Capitol. 

Sandra Parker, Laura Steele, Connie Meggs and William Isaacs were also convicted of numerous other charges, including destruction of government property and conspiracy to prevent members of Congress from discharging their duties by certifying the results of the 2020 election.

Two others affiliated with the Oath Keepers – Bonnie Parker and Michael Greene – were found guilty Monday of illegally entering and remaining on the Capitol grounds, but they avoided a conviction on conspiracy charges. 

At two previous trials, Oath Keeper leader Stewart Rhodes and five other members of the group were found guilty of seditious conspiracy, the most serious charge filed in the attack. 

In the latest trial, the six defendants did not face sedition charges. 

“They seized and claimed a building that cannot belong to them alone,” Alexandra Hughes, a prosecutor, said of the defendants during her closing statement this month. “They imposed their will on the democratic process. They violated a principle that we all must abide.”

As a result of the three trials, 15 Oath Keeper members have been convicted on felony counts.