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Archive for October, 2008

Arizona Rep. Rick Renzi Says FBI Wiretaps Illegal

Rep. Rick Renzi/official photo

Rep. Rick Renzi/official photo

Rep. Rick Renzi says the FBI violated his constitutional rights as a Congressman under the Speech Or Debate Clause —  the same argument other indicted politicians have made including Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. William J. Jefferson.

By Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi was wiretapped by one of his former aides during a federal investigation into a land deal that led to the third-term Arizona congressman’s indictment on extortion and other charges.
The role of that congressional staffer and others is disclosed in a motion filed by Renzi’s attorneys, who seek to have much of the government’s evidence thrown out because they say the FBI violated constitutional shields protecting lawmakers from interference in their official actions.
The U.S. District Court motion says Joanne Keene, Renzi’s former legislative director, cooperated with the FBI by secretly recording phone conversations with her ex-boss concerning the land transaction.
The motion also alleges that FBI agents improperly questioned Keene and other ex-Renzi staffers, as well as one working for him at the time, about his role in the land-swap deal. The FBI then used that information to secure search warrants and a court-approved wiretap of the congressman’s phone, the motion says.
For Full Story

Read Renzi Motion To Dismiss #1

Read  Renzi Motion To Dismiss #2

Read Renzi Motion To Dismiss #3

Stevens Goes On Offensive In Fight Of His Life

Scrappy Sen. Ted Stevens took the stand for the second day and attacked his main accuser. At 84, he’s still got plenty of fight in him.

Sen. Ted Stevens Trial

By Erika Bolstand and Richard Mauer
Anchorage Daily News
WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Stevens, taking the stand for a second day in his corruption trial, today accused the chief witness against him of lying to jurors about conversations the two former friends had about money.
Bill Allen, former chief of the Veco Corp. oil-field services company, testified earlier in Stevens’ corruption trial that he never gave Stevens invoices for work done on the senator’s home in Alaska even though Stevens asked for them. Allen, who pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state lawmakers, testified in exchange for leniency in his own sentencing.
Stevens disputed Allen’s account of a 2006 conversation in Arizona, where they were both vacationing on their annual “boot camps” — get-togethers where they would drink wine and walk in the desert to shed weight. Allen testified that he and Stevens talked about the need for the senator to receive invoices for the Veco work on the house. But Stevens denied the conversation.
For Full Story

FBI Snitch Says EX-New Orleans Mayor Took Cash Payments

Sometimes you need a score card to keep track of who is in trouble down here. The latest allegations are included in a just-unsealed sentencing memorandum for a city hall insider who wore an FBI wire.

Ex-Mayor Marc Morial/national urban league photo

Ex-Mayor Marc Morial/national urban league photo

By Gordon Russell
The New Orleans Times-Picayune
NEW ORLEANS — Since Mayor Marc Morial left City Hall in 2002, federal investigators have been combing through any number of the contracts and deals inked by his administration.
And not without fruit: The probes have led to guilty pleas from his uncle, several members of his inner circle and a top city administrator.
But the government’s heat never singed Morial directly until this week, with the unveiling of a court document that reveals that federal inmate and former mayoral pal Stan “Pampy” Barre told prosecutors that Morial accepted “cash payments.”
Morial’s name is mentioned in only one sentence in the four-page document. It does not say what the alleged payments were for, who made them, when they were made or how much Morial allegedly received.
Morial, now president of the National Urban League, has not been charged with a crime, and many legal observers think it’s unlikely that he will be.
His attorney, Pat Fanning, characterized Barre’s allegations as lies told by a desperate man who would say or do anything he could — even turn on a friend — to reduce his own criminal exposure. Barre began a five-year prison sentence last week.
For Full Story

Read Unsealed Material In Sentencing Memorandum

Roker’s DEA TV Show To Get Second Season

Al Roker/dea photo

Al Roker/dea photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
Al Roker, the jester of morning television, will launch a second season of his  tv progam “DEA”–  a reality show on the inner workings of DEA agents in action.
His company Al Roker Entertainment initially produced six one-hour episodes that were filmed in Detroit and aired on Spike tv this past spring.
Production  for the second season will begin this Fall and air in 2009, according to Spike tv. The station has not announced which city the show will be filmed  in.
“DEA” averaged 1.2 million viewers in it’s opening season, Spike tv said in a statement.
Al Roker will be co-executive producer for the series along with Russell Muth and Hank Capshaw of Size 12 Productions, Spike tv said .

Boston Mobster “Whitey” Bulger’s Girlfriend Testifies

Boston’s most notorious mobster “Whitey” Bulger is nowhere to be found. But today his girlfriend showed up to testify in a murder trial of ex-FBI agent John Connolly.

By Shelley Murphy
Boston Globe Staff
MIAMI — The world knows him as James “Whitey” Bulger, featured on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list alongside Osama bin Laden.
But today Bulger’s longtime girlfriend, 67-year-old Teresa Stanley told a Florida jury that during her 30 years of living with the South Boston gangster she called him by another name: Charlie.
“I referred to him as Charlie, actually, but sometimes called him Jimmy,” said Stanley, an attractive woman with short, snow-white hair, dressed in a black suit and white shirt, as she sat in the witness box at the murder trial of retired FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. “That was the name he gave. It was sort of a nickname.”
Stanley, who was subpoenaed to testify by the defense, recounted leaving Boston abruptly just before Christmas 1994 on a whirlwind cross-country trek that marked the beginning of Bulger’s life on the run.

For Full Story

Fed Report Says U.S. Labs Still Lack Security

One thing we learned from the anthrax attacks in 2001 was that our nation’s bio-terrorism labs weren’t very secure. Guess what, says the latest report: Some still aren’t.

anthrax spores
anthrax spores
By Larry Margasak
Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Intruders could easily break into two U.S. laboratories where researchers handle some of the world’s deadliest germs, according to congressional investigators. The Associated Press identified the vulnerable lab locations as Atlanta and San Antonio.
The serious security problems at the two labs were described by the Government Accountability Office in a report expected to be released publicly as early as today. The GAO, Congress’ investigative and auditing arm, did not identify the labs except to say they were classified as Biosafety Level 4 facilities, but the report included enough details for the AP – and others knowledgeable about such labs – to determine their locations. Biosafety Level 4 labs do research on deadly germs and toxins.
In Texas, the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research features an outside window that looks directly into the room where the deadly germs are handled. The lab, which is privately run, also lacks many security cameras, intrusion detection alarms or visible armed guards at its public entrances. Officials there said they will tighten security.
For Full Story
Read GAO Report On Lab Security

FBI Investigating Florida Congressman Mahoney

Congressman Mahoney/official photo

Congressman Mahoney/official photo

The tanking economy may not be helpful to Republican candidates. But Democrat Tim Mahoney is learning that a sex scandal and an FBI probe aren’t a big plus in the final stretch of a campaign.

By Brian Skoloff
Associated Press Writer
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The FBI is investigating whether Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney broke any laws or misused federal money when he hired a mistress to work in his office, a senior federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
Federal agents also are examining whether a second affair Mahoney was having with a high-level official in his Florida district was behind his decision to push for federal emergency funds for her county, the official said.
The person spoke to The Associated Press only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation. The person noted investigators would likely need both women’s help to pursue the matter. The cases would be hard to prove without them.
Mahoney has called for a House Ethics Committee investigation of his own conduct and said he would be cleared of wrongdoing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also called for an investigation.

For Full Story

FBI Investigates ACORN And Voter Fraud

Will this scandal impact the election?

By Lara Jakes Jordan
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The FBI is investigating whether the community activist group ACORN helped foster voter registration fraud around the nation before the presidential election. A senior law enforcement official confirmed the investigation to The Associated Press on Thursday.
A second senior law enforcement official says the FBI was looking at results of recent raids on ACORN offices in several states for any evidence of a coordinated national scam.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Justice Department regulations forbid discussing ongoing investigations particularly so close to an election.
For Full Story

Read ACORN Statement