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Archive for December, 2008

House Legal Staff Defends Arizona Congressman Accused of Corruption

Once again the legal staff for the House of Representatives finds itself caught in a predicament: defending a member of Congress accused of wrongdoing. The legal staff says it’s intervening to protect the integrity of the institution, not Renzi. Nonetheless, it’s trying to sink the government’s case.  Not a great position to be in.

Rep. Rick Renzi/official photo

Rep. Rick Renzi/official photo

Arthur H. Rotstein
The Associated Press

The legal staff for the U.S. House of Representatives has challenged the constitutionality of the Justice Department’s prosecution of retiring U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, effectively aligning with Renzi’s defense.
The House counsel, in a friend-of-the-court brief, said federal prosecutors and the FBI repeatedly violated the Constitution’s speech or debate clause, which grants members of Congress protections for their legislative acts.
The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House noted its filing is intended “to articulate and protect the House’s interests – and not to defend defendant Congressman Richard Renzi.”
For Full Story

Read House of Rep. Counsel Filing

Prosecutor Probes U.S. Atty. Firings And Dispatches Subpoenas

The Justice Department appears to be moving forward with its probe into the firings of 9 U.S. Attorneys — a mess left behind by former Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales. Will there be justice in the end? We shall see.

Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey/official photo

Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey/official photo

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — A prosecutor who is investigating the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys has been meeting with defense lawyers, dispatching subpoenas and seeking information about the events, according to legal sources familiar with the case.
Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey appointed prosecutor Nora R. Dannehy two months ago, after the department’s Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility reported that they had hit a roadblock in their lengthy probe into whether political interference prompted the dismissals. Internal investigators said they had been stymied by the refusal of key witnesses, including former presidential adviser Karl Rove and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers, to cooperate.
For Full Story

Prosecutor Has Contacted Former A.G. Gonzales (TPM Muckraker)

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

ATF’s Theresa Stoop Returning To Baltimore as Special Agent in Charge

Theresa Stoop/atf photo

Theresa Stoop/atf photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Theresa R. Stoop of ATF is returning to Baltimore for an encore.
The agency announced Wednesday that Stoop will become the special agent in charge of the Baltimore Field Division, a post she held from 2000 to 2003. The division includes Maryland and Delaware.
“Theresa Stoop brings 24 years of knowledge and experience to Maryland and Delaware as one of ATF’s key leaders,” said acting ATF director Michael Sullivan in a prepared statement.
Prior to this, Stoop served as the deputy assistant director for Training and Professional Development at ATF headquarters, authorities said.


FBI Agent Who Dated Actress is Charged With Illegally Accessing FBI Computer

Actress Linda Fiorentino dated FBI agent/flixster photo

Actress Linda Fiorentino dated FBI agent/flixster photo

UPDATED: Wedenesday 2 p.m.
By Allan Lengel
Ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — FBI agent Mark Rossini, whose name surfaced in New York gossip columns for dating actress Linda Fiorentino, has been charged with illegally accessing an FBI computer for personal use.
Rossini, who resigned Friday,  was charged with  five misdemeanor counts in a criminal Information  filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington. In many instances, when a criminal Information is filed, the defendant ends up pleading guilty.
Rossini had been based in Washington but later transferred to New York, where press reports had him dining with Fiorentino at Elaine’s, a well known uptown restaurant.
Del Quentin Wilber of The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Linda Fiorentino has ties to Anthony Pellicano, the controversial Los Angeles private investigator, who was convicted in May of using illegal wiretaps and rogue cops to dig up info for famous clients.
The Post said that Pellicano’s attorneys in a court filing in March 2007 referenced an FBI report that raised questions about a certain FBI agent’s credibility. The lawyers said the prosecution should have turned over the report during discovery.
Rossini was the source of that document, the Post  reported, attributing that to “one law enforcement official.”
Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, declined to comment Tuesday night on the case but said a hearing was scheduled for next Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Focciola. Debbie Weierman, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Washington, declined comment.
The court papers charge that Rossini on five different occasions in 2007 in Washington “exceeded his authorized access to a protected computer belonging to the Federal Bureau of Investigation”.
Read Criminal Information
Read 2007 Gossip Report on Rossini and Fiorentino (Radar)
See YouTube Video of Rossini Speaking At Brooklyn Mosque

Fifteen Chicago Area Cops Nabbed in FBI Drug Sting

Surprisingly, so many cops fell for a sting that has been used before around the country. In Detroit, not all that far from Chicago, the FBI ran a similar sting in the early 1990s and nabbed a number of area cops and the common-law brother-in-law of then Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young.

BY FRANK MAIN
Chicago Sun-Times
CHICAGO — Four Harvey police officers, 10 Cook County jail guards and a Chicago police officer have been charged with providing muscle for what they thought were major drug deals – but were really fake transactions that were part of an FBI sting.
In one of the largest crackdowns on law enforcement officers in recent years, the FBI is accusing the officers of accepting between $400 and $4,000 each on one or more occasions to serve as lookouts and intervene if police or rival drug dealers attempted to interfere with shipments of cocaine and heroin.
For Full Story

Read FBI Affidavit

Ex-Congressman Lederer Busted In Abscam Scandal Dies

Congressman Raymond F. Lederer lost his seat after he was busted in the famous Abscam scandal. It was not a good way to end his political career.

FBI Abscam tape

FBI Abscam tape

By JOHN F. MORRAISON
Philadelphia Daily News
PHILADELPHIA — Raymond F. Lederer, former Democratic Congressman from Philadelphia whose political career ended when he was among 19 people caught up in the Abscam scandal of 1980, died Monday of cancer. He was 70 and lived in Fishtown.
Lederer and Michael “Ozzie” Myers were the two congressmen arrested in the federal sting operation, which used a phony Arab sheikh to offer bribes to elected officials. Three City Council members also were arrested.He was sentenced to Allenwood Prison.
After his conviction, Lederer resigned from Congress in 1981 and went to work as a roofer. However, he retained his leadership of the 18th Ward.
For More Details

Army to Beef Up Security In Labs After FBI Findings in Anthrax

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

One thing we learned during the anthrax investigation that our nation’s labs had lax security. Now the Army is taking additional steps to tighten things up.

By David Dishneau
The Associated Press
HAGERSTOWN, Md. — The Army announced additional security training Tuesday for workers handling some of the world’s deadliest germs and toxins, part of its response to an FBI finding that an Army scientist was responsible for deadly 2001 anthrax attacks.
The Army also said Tuesday that a lab closed for security shortcomings in April won’t reopen.
The new training to reinforce existing policies was recommended as a first step by a task force reviewing lab security practices after the FBI concluded that Army scientist Bruce Ivins was behind the attacks, said Michael Brady, special assistant to Army Secretary Pete Geren.
The first weeklong refresher course began Monday at the Army’s flagship biodefense lab at Fort Detrick in Frederick, where Ivins allegedly obtained and refined the anthrax used in the deadly mailings that killed five people and sickened 17 others.
For Full Story

See FBI Anthrax Documents

A.G. Candidate Eric Holder May Have More Pardon Questions To Answer Beyond Marc Rich

Eric Holder/law firm photo

Eric Holder/law firm photo

By Jeffrey Anderson
Baltimore City Paper

The only issue even remotely standing in the way of Eric Holder being confirmed as the next U.S. Attorney General seems to be his role in the 2001 pardon of federal fugitive and billionaire Marc Rich, who fled the country after being charged with tax evasion.
However, a 2002 Congressional Report titled “Justice Undone: Clemency Decisions in the Clinton White House,” called other actions taken by Holder in connection with a commutation petition for convicted drug trafficker Carlos Vignali “disturbing,” and found that Holder “took a similarly irresolute position in the Vignali case” as he did in the Rich pardon. “Carlos Vignali satisfies none of the appropriate grounds for commutation identified in Justice Department regulations,” the report found.
At issue in the Vignali commutation, according to the Congressional report, was then Deputy Attorney General Holder’s decision to pass along to the White House a recommendation by Justice Department pardon attorney Roger Adams that Vignali’s petition be denied, rather than sign the recommendation himself, as was Justice Department process. The report found that Holder allowed Adams, a subordinate, to oppose the Vignali commutation “while refusing to go on the record against a commutation the President apparently wanted to grant and the President’s own brother-in-law supported.”
For Full Story

Read Key Pages of Document