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Archive for October, 2008

Justice Releases Details On New FBI Powers

The ongoing yin and yang between law enforcement and civil liberties groups continued to rear its head Friday  as the Justice Department released new guidelines for FBI powers.

Atty. Gen. Muskasey/doj photo

Atty. Gen. Muskasey/doj photo

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON– Justice Department officials released new guidelines yesterday that empower FBI agents to use intrusive techniques to gather intelligence within the United States, alarming civil liberties groups and Democratic lawmakers who worry that they invite privacy violations and other abuses.
The new road map allows investigators to recruit informants, employ physical surveillance and conduct interviews in which agents disguise their identities in an effort to assess national security threats. FBI agents could pursue each of those steps without any single fact indicating a person has ties to a terrorist organization.
Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said the guidelines are necessary to fulfill the FBI’s core mission to predict threats and respond even before an attack takes place. The ground rules will help the bureau become “a more flexible and adept collector of intelligence,” as independent commissions urged after the strikes of Sept. 11, 2001, Mukasey said in a statement yesterday.
For Full Story

Joint Statement From Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey and FBI Director Robert Mueller III

Justice Department’s Fact Sheet On New Guidelines

Bolivia Refuses To Let DEA Fly Over Its Land

The DEA continues to bump up against some reluctant partners in South America. In this instance, Bolivia isn’t budging.

President Morales

President Morales

The Associated Press
LA PAZ, Bolivia — Bolivian President Evo Morales has rejected a request from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to fly anti-narcotics missions over the South American nation’s territory, state media reported Thursday.
The Bolivian Information Agency said Morales instructed his government to deny a written request from U.S. officials for a surveillance flight.
“Two days ago I received a letter from the U.S. DEA asking a government institution for permission to fly over national territory,” the agency quoted Morales as saying.
“I want to say publicly to our authorities: They are not authorized to give permission so that the DEA can fly over Bolivian territory.”
For Full Story

Louisiana Judge Off To Prison For 5 Years

Judge Vernon Claville joins the corrupt-official-heading-off-to-jail club down in Louisiana. On Thursday,  former Caddo District Judge Michael Walker got a 10-year sentence. Both were convicted in a probe dubbed Broken Gavel.ST

ERN DISA

By Icess Fernandez
Shreveport Times
SHREVEPORT, La — Vernon Claville, a former juvenile court judge convicted of accepting cash payments for reducing bonds and lifting holds, was sentenced to five years in jail and ordered to pay $165,000 in fines.
The sentencing came this morning after a federal court judge threw out the guidelines and took Claville’s “history and character into consideration”.
U.S. Judge S. Maurice Hicks said the guidelines typically used by judges to render sentencing did not take into account this type of situation. As a result, he used his judgement to rule on Claville’s punishment.
“The seriousness of the offenses are not adequately addressed in the guidelines,” he said.
For Full Story

Read Indictment

IRS Busts Two-Time Indy 500 Champion

photo/roger penske

photo/roger penske

Helio Castroneves knows what it’s like to be a champ and be beloved. Unfortunately, today he’s not feeling the love– at least not from the IRS.

By Curt Cavin
Indianapolis Star
Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves is expected to appear in federal court today after he was indicted on multiple counts of tax evasion Thursday in Miami.
Castroneves, a 33-year-old Brazilian who owns a home in South Florida, is charged with failing to report $5.5 million in income to the Internal Revenue Service from 1999 to 2002. Also named in the indictment were his sister Kati, who serves as his manager, and attorney Alan R. Miller.
Castroneves won the 500 in 2001 and ’02. He became a national celebrity last year when he won television’s “Dancing With the Stars” competition.
For Full Story

Read Indictment

FBI Office Manager Julie Fidler To Get Director Award

BY Maggie O’Brien
Omaha World-Herald Staff Writer

OMAHA, Neb – Not many people know what part-time Von Maur employee Julie Fidler did to help authorities in the hours after a 19-year-old gunman walked into the Omaha store last December and killed eight people, then himself.
Julie Fidler, 52, who lives in Bellevue, would prefer to remain anonymous. But later this month, the boss from her other job – the full-time one – is giving her an award that won’t be easy to hide. That boss: FBI Director Robert S. Mueller.
Fidler, a full-time office manager for the FBI in Omaha, still works part-time on the store’s third floor – where most of the shootings occurred. She has worked at the FBI for 34 years, Von Maur for at least five.
For Full Story

Judge Rules Against White House Shielding Abramoff Visits

Judge Lamberth/official photo by Beverly Rezneck

Jack Abramoff, a toxic Washington lobbyist who went off to prison, continues to amuse and mystify this city. Some groups are trying to dig a little deeper to untangle his web in the nation’s capital.

The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A federal judge has rejected the Bush administration’s attempt to shield records that may shed light on the White House visits of now imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
In several orders this week, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth sided with watchdog groups Judicial Watch and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, which are suing the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security for access to the logs.
The administration in 2006 agreed to produce all responsive records about the visits “without redactions or claims of exemption.” But it soon argued that the contents of certain “Sensitive Security Records,” which are created in the course of conducting more extensive background checks on particular White House visitors, cannot be publicly revealed even though they could show some of Abramoff’s visits.
For Full Story

See Judge’s Ruling

Colombian Drug Traffickers Extradited To Detroit

There was a time when Colombian drug dealers would never have been extradited to the U.S. Times have changed.

By Paul Egan
The Detroit News
DETROIT – Two alleged Colombian drug traffickers have been extradited to Detroit to face charges handed down by a federal grand jury, acting U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg announced Thursday.
Carlos Salguero-Bermudez and Ricardo Torres-Noack, both Colombian citizens, arrived in Detroit on Thursday to face charges they conspired to smuggle tons of ephedrine into the U.S. to manufacture methamphetamine in Michigan, Berg said in a news release. They also face drug possession and manufacturing and money laundering charges.
A federal grand jury in Detroit indicted the Colombians June 27 and the indictment was unsealed Thursday.
The two men were arrested by the Colombian National Police in Bogota, Colombia, in August and were held there pending the outcome of extradition requests made by the U.S. government in September, Berg said.
For Full Story

Dig For Dead Mobsters In New York Continues Today

FBI agents digging for dead mobsters came up empty handed on Thursday, but continued looking Friday. Will it end up being a wild goose chase?

By ROBERT E. KESSLER
Newsday
EAST FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – FBI agents spent their first full day digging yesterday at an East Farmingdale site that, according to sources, is described by an informant as an organized crime burial ground since at least 1994.
But the agents did not find any traces of the three bodies – one of whom could be Colombo family underboss William Cutolo – that were supposedly buried at the site, the sources said.
The agents suspended their work in the early evening at an industrial and commercial complex radiating out from Baiting Place Road and Del Drive, but plan to continue excavating today, said FBI spokesman James Margolin.
For Full Story