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Archive for October, 2008

“Die Hard” Director Gets Break In Lie to FBI

In Hollywood, people are always re-writing the endings.  Well, the U.S. Court of Appeals has given  “Die Hard” director  John McTiernanan  the  opportunity to re-write his ending after he pleaded guilty to lying to an FBI agent in the infamous Pellicano wiretap scandal.

John McTiernan/photo flixster

John McTiernan/photo flixster

By Victoria Kim
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — A Hollywood director who pleaded guilty in 2006 to lying to the FBI about his dealings with convicted private eye Anthony Pellicano may be entitled to withdraw his plea, an appeals court ruled today.
“Die Hard” and “Predator” director John McTiernan had argued he would not have admitted to the charge, for which he was sentenced to four months in prison, if his attorney at the time had given him better legal advice. Last year, a judge denied his motion to withdraw his plea.
The action-flick director was one of seven people who pleaded guilty to charges connected to Pellicano’s wiretapping and racketeering enterprise before the case went to trial.
McTiernan, 57, admitted to paying Pellicano to wiretap film producer Charles Roven after they had worked on the 2002 film “Rollerball,” and to misleading an FBI agent who interviewed him over the phone.
For Full Story

Finally: Sen. Stevens Case Goes To Jurors Today

After a bumpy trial, jurors get to have their say. Sen. Stevens is crossing his fingers, hoping for an acquittal and an opportunity to hit the campaign trail before Nov. 4.

Sen. Stevens/official photo

Sen. Stevens/official photo

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — A federal jury today will begin deliberating two conflicting views of Sen. Ted Stevens, the powerful Alaska Republican charged with lying on financial disclosure forms to hide more than $250,000 in gifts and renovations to the Alaska house he affectionately calls his “chalet.”
Closing Arguments Beginning in Stevens’ Trial
Defense lawyers, backed by a string of character witnesses, have portrayed Stevens, 84, as an honest public servant who conscientiously paid his bills, never lied on the forms and is the victim of overzealous authorities.
Prosecutors have argued that the senator is a miser who went to extraordinary lengths to hide free remodeling work financed by Veco, a now-defunct Alaska oil services company, and its top executive.
For Full Story

UPDATE – (Wednesday: 6 p.m.) — The first day of deliberations ended without a verdict. Jurors will return Thursday for further deliberations.

Fed Judge In Philly Asks Whether White Student Got Preferential Treatment

In the city of brotherly love, a federal judge suggests race may have been a consideration in a potential child pornography case involving a white Ivy League student.

Judge Michael M. Baylson/penn law school photo

Judge Michael M. Baylson/penn law school photo

Maryclaire Dale
The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA – A federal judge questioned Tuesday why a white Ivy League student found with thousands of images of child pornography during a computer hacking probe was not charged with that crime, and was spared the decade-long sentence looming over a black convicted child pornographer at the same hearing.
University of Pennsylvania senior Ryan Goldstein, 22, of Ambler, will spend three months in prison and five years on federal probation for a hacking scheme that caused a Penn engineering server to crash in 2006.
Goldstein pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and worked long hours helping the FBI investigate a worldwide hacking enterprise, lawyers on both sides agreed.
But even as he was cooperating, Goldstein twice engaged in unspecified mischief with FBI computers, causing investigators to fall short of their ultimate goal, U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson said.
“It was very detrimental to the investigation,” said Baylson, who heard details of the misconduct behind closed doors at the start of Tuesday’s sentencing hearing. “It’s very disturbing.”

For Full Story

Ex-Chicago Police Official Accused Of Torture And Perjury

To say the least, the allegations are not good for the Chicago Police Department’s reputation.

By Natasha Korecki
Chicago Sun-Times
TAMPA, Fla. – Former Police Cmdr. Jon Burge – who has cast a long shadow over the Chicago Police Department because of accusations he tortured suspects for two decades – was arrested this morning on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
It was long believed Burge could not be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations. But the FBI arrested Burge, 60, at his retirement home near Tampa for allegedly lying about whether he and other officers under his command tortured suspects dating back to the 1980s.
The charges are based on written answers Burge gave in a civil lawsuit against him in 2003, 10 years after he was fired from the department. Burge insisted he never observed nor used any torture techniques – including cattle prods, bags over suspects’ heads and a “black box” that administered electric shocks.
“I have never used any techniques set forth above as a means of improper coercion of suspects while in detention or during interrogation,” Burge wrote.
For Full Story

Read U.S. Justice Department Press Release

Chicago U.S. Atty. Press Conference On Police Torture Case

AUSA John P. Collins Jr. Winner Of Law Enforcement Award

Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. Collins Jr. of the Southern District of New York was recently named a winner of a 2007 Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) National Award for his prosecution of two violent Westchester County street gangs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Collins and others helped indict 37 gang members, authorities said. Collins shared the award with the FBI’s White Plains Resident Agency Violent Crimes Squad and officers of the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and Yonkers Police Department.

Investment Fund Manager Pleads To Bilking Investors Out of $7 million

NEW YORK — Bret A. Grebow, a co-manager and trader of an investment fund, HMC International LLC (“HMC”), pleaded guilty Tuesday to defrauding investors of more than $7 million in what federal authorities said was a “Ponzi scheme”.
GREBOW told investors that he was getting back handsome returns on investments, when in fact he was not, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Instead, Grebow used investor funds to pay other investors in what appeared to be a classic Ponzi scheme, authorities said.

Secret Service Busts Hacker Of Scientology Web

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
Don’t expect Dmitriy Guzner to get invited to Scientologist Tom Cruise’s next movie premiere.
The 18-year-old New Jersey man,  who claimed to be a member of “Anonymous”, an anti-Scientology group, has agreed to plead guilty to hacking into the Church of Scientology websites and rendering them “unavailable”, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

Guzner admitted his involvement in “the distributed denial of service attack” against the Scientology websites, which involved directing a “large amount of malicious Internet traffic” to the websites, authorities said. As a result,  the sites were unable to handle the high volume of traffic and were not available to  legitimate users, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
The group “Anonymous” has protested against the Church of Scientology and in January posted a YouTube video announcing an offensive against the group, authorities said. Scientology followers include actors Tom Cruise and Jon Travolta.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it expects Guzner to plead guilty “in the coming weeks.” He faces up to 10 years in prison. The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crime Task Force.

Read Criminal Complaint

Read Plea Agreement