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Archive for February, 2009

New Mexico U.S. Attorney Would Like to Stay

Interestingly, this office was at the center of the U.S. Attorney firing controversy. And now the office is involved in a pay-to-play investigation into state government and Gov. Bill Richardson. Will any of this make a difference in the Obama Justice Department’s decision whether to keep the U.S. Attorney?

By TIM KORTE
Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.– Greg Fouratt hopes to stay in place. But with a new administration in Washington, the U.S. attorney in New Mexico is realistic and knows he could be changing jobs soon.
It’s likely President Barack Obama will appoint someone else to serve as the chief federal law enforcement official in New Mexico. In that scenario, Fouratt would go back to carrying a briefcase to represent the government in court.
“There’s a lot to like about this job,” Fouratt said in an interview with The Associated Press. “If I could be helpful staying in this position, then I would be privileged to stay. If it is the plan that I return to life as a line prosecutor, then I’ll help from that position.”
Yet there are a few complexities surrounding the situation.
First, Fouratt took over last year but wasn’t appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush, blunting the argument that political influences determine who fills the post.
Fouratt, 44, got the job in January 2008 when a panel of New Mexico federal judges, addressing a vacancy, determined a presidential appointment wasn’t imminent and exercised its authority to seat the position.

For Full Story

The Latest Government Screw Up in Sen. Ted Stevens’ Case Involving FBI Whistleblower

Sen. Ted Stevens/campaign photo

Sen. Ted Stevens/campaign photo

It’s hard to recall a high-profile case in recent years where the government has been involved in so many missteps. Here’s the latest one in the Stevens’ case.


By RICHARD MAUER
Anchorage Daily News

Federal prosecutors have found a new reason to apologize over misleading information they’ve provided to the judge in former Sen. Ted Stevens’ trial, and this time Stevens’ lawyers are saying the government should be held in contempt.
In a letter to the judge dated Jan. 30 and made public Thursday, William Welch, head of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, said he erred when he said in January that government employees cited in an FBI agent’s complaint alleging improprieties by government officials “want their story to be made public.”
In fact, he wrote, not all of them gave their consent to having their names released Jan. 14 in a publicly filed copy of the eight-page complaint, though he didn’t identify which ones.
In the complaint, agent Chad Joy accused a fellow agent and prosecutors of violating FBI policy and fair-trial rules in the wide-ranging public corruption investigation in Alaska and in Stevens’ trial last year.
The new apology comes on top of a series of errors and misstatements made by prosecutors in connection with the complaint and other issues that arose during and after Stevens’ trial.
For Full Story

OUCH!! Judge Says She May Toss Key Evidence in Barry Bonds Case

Barry Bonds could be one lucky guy — that is if the judge in his case tosses out some key evidence, which looks like a possibilty.

By Bob Egelko
San Francisco Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO — The federal government’s perjury case against Barry Bonds ran into trouble Thursday when a judge questioned whether prosecutors could use much of the evidence they say shows the former Giants star used steroids.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston did not issue a ruling after a 90-minute hearing in San Francisco on whether the prosecution’s evidence could be admitted at Bonds’ trial. But she said she was inclined to exclude evidence of blood and urine test results, laboratory records and steroid-use calendars unless prosecutors have a witness with first-hand knowledge to connect those items to Bonds.
That witness would be Greg Anderson, Bonds’ former trainer, who has already spent more than a year in jail for refusing to testify against his longtime friend, baseball’s all-time home run leader. Anderson is free now but could be imprisoned again if he declines to testify at Bonds’ trial.
For Full Story

Government Documents Unsealed 2.04.09

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson Having Problems With 2 Potential Witnesses From Nigeria Including Ex-V.P.

This case has been riddled with endless problems. The question at this points is: Will the ex-Rep. William Jefferson try to use this latest speed bump as an excuse to push for another delay?

By Bruce Alpert
Ex-Nigerian V.P.  Atiku Abubaker

Ex-Nigerian V.P. Atiku Abubakar

New Orleans Times-Picayune
WASHINGTON — Attorneys for former Rep. William Jefferson say they are getting the run around in their efforts to persuade two Nigerian witnesses to testify at his May 26 corruption trial.
The attorneys are trying to get testimony from former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Nigerian businessman Suleiman Yahyah, both of whom have made public statements denying that they discussed the payment of bribes to advance a telecommunications project the New Orleans Democrat was promoting.
Specifically, Jefferson’s attorneys have asked if the two potential witnesses would be willing “to waive their Fifth Amendment privileges and testify fully.”
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But the attorneys said in a brief filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., that Christopher Mead, an attorney for Abubakar, said he would “have to confer with his client” before responding. That was Jan. 15, and the attorneys said they still haven’t heard back.
For Full Story

Read Jefferson Motion

Memphis Cop Who Shook Down Dope Dealers Convicted of 44 Counts

Cops like Arthur Sease give the department a black eye that takes a long time to heal.

By Lawrence Buser
Memphis Commercial Appeal
MEMPHIS — Arthur Sease IV’s plan of becoming a rap record producer ended late this afternoon when a federal court jury convicted the former police officer of shaking down drug dealers for money, drugs and merchandise to finance his dream.
U.S. Dist. Judge Jon McCalla took nearly 30 minutes to go through the 50-count indictment with the jury foreman and at count 45 an agitated Sease gestured toward the jury and appeared to mouth the words, “You all just gave me life.”
Sease, 31, who was convicted on 44 counts, faces a mandatory minimum of 275 years in prison and a maximum of life plus 255 years.
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Expectations for First Black Attorney Gen. Extremely High

The expectations for Eric Holder Jr. are extremely high. Will he be able to measure up? Are the senators who voted against his confirmation waiting for him to stumble?

By Carrie Johnson and Krissah Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — For decades, the face of the criminal justice system in this country has been black and male: hundreds of thousands locked behind bars, arrested in disproportionate numbers and facing execution at rates far greater than those for the general population.
This week, Eric H. Holder Jr.’s swearing-in as the nation’s first black attorney general and its top law enforcement official came weighted with heavy expectation that the system could change.
Known as a prosecutor who was unflinchingly tough on crime, Holder, 58, is also a former civil rights lawyer who has mentored young black men. Many advocates view him as the best chance in decades to right what they consider unchecked racial injustice and insensitivity by federal officials.
Civil rights advocates are already outlining a long list of priorities, including changing laws that lead to disproportionate prison terms for blacks, ending racial profiling and stepping up the policing of discrimination in employment and housing.
For Full Story

DEA Carries Out Pot Raid on Clinics Contrary to Obama Pledge to Stop Raids

Acting DEA Chief Michele Leonhard
Acting DEA Chief Michele Leonhard

It appears some of the Bush holdovers are carrying out some of the old Bush policies. That can’t last much longer.

Stephen Dinan and Ben Conery
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
WASHINGTON — Drug Enforcement Administration agents this week raided four medical marijuana shops in California, contrary to President Obama’s campaign promises to stop the raids.
The White House said it expects those kinds of raids to end once Mr. Obama nominates someone to take charge of DEA, which is still run by Bush administration holdovers.
“The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind,” White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said.
For Full Story

High-Ranking Anti-Drug Official Murdered After One Day on Job

As the violence rages on, drug traffickers are trying to send a message to the government: Don’t Get in Our Way!

By CNN
MEXICO CITY — A recently retired Mexican army general whose bullet-riddled body was found Tuesday near Cancun had taken over as the area’s top antidrug official less than 24 hours earlier, officials said.
A soldier guards the forensics office where the body of a slain former general was taken in Cancun, Mexico.
Retired Gen. Mauro Enrique Tello Quiñonez, his aide and a driver were tortured before being killed, said Quintana Roo state prosecutor Bello Melchor Rodriguez y Carrillo. He said there was no doubt Tello and the others were victims of organized crime.
For Full Story