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Archive for March, 2009

Justice Dept. Probing Arizona Sheriff on Treatment of Illegal Aliens

The Justice Department will be trying to determine if the sheriff’s department violated the civil rights of illegal aliens and broke the law. It seems the laws are so unclear — at least to some local law enforcement agencies around the country. Or maybe the agencies are just choosing to ignore them.

By Penny Starr
Senior Staff Writer
(CNSNews.com) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched an investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona following requests by congressional Democrats and allegations by liberal activists that the department has violated the civil rights of illegal aliens.

Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Robert Scott (D-Va.) requested the investigation, and activists groups such as National Day Laborer Organizer Network and ACORN launched petition drives and rallies in support of the probe.

The investigation focuses on Sheriff Joe Arpaio and dozens of officers under his command who were trained through the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security (ACCESS), which partners federal and local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws. (The Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division is known popularly as ICE.)
For Full Story

Ex-DEA Official Testifies About the Escalating Guns, Drugs and Violence in Mexico

By Michael Braun
Counterterrorism Blog

WASHINGTON –Today* I testified before the Subcommittee on National Security & Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the escalating violence in Mexico. My viewpoint arises from my 34 years in law enforcement and as a U.S. Marine. I served for almost four years as the Assistant Administrator and Chief of Operations with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and for one year as the Agency’s Acting Chief of Intelligence. I also served in a number of DEA offices throughout the United States, including service on both our Southern and Northern borders, on both our East and West Coasts, in the Midwest, as well as two years in various countries in Latin America.

Here are several paragraphs of that testimony, and you can download it in its entirety here

*(Braun testified on Thursday March 12, 2009)

Group Says FBI Using Outdated and Deliberately Limited Search Process in Freedom of Information Act

Anyone who has ever filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI knows it can take forever to get the results. They also know they may not ever get the results they want. A private group, the National Security Archives, is now giving the agency grief about this — and deservedly so.

By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — If information were a river, the FBI would be a dam.

Two out of every three people who ask for FBI records under the Freedom of Information Act are told by the bureau no such documents exist — a failure rate five times higher than at other major federal agencies, a private study finds.

The FBI is using an outdated and deliberately limited search process to avoid full compliance with the records law, the National Security Archive asserts. The Archive is a private group that publishes declassified government documents and files many FOIA requests.

The Archive awarded the FBI its Rosemary Award for the worst Freedom of Information Act performance by a federal agency.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Retired FBI Agent Jerry Breidenfeld Dead At 83

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer

Jerry H. Breidenfeld, 83, a retired agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, died March 6 at Reston Hospital Center of congestive heart failure. He moved to Ashburn in 2006 after living in Reston for many years.

Dr. Breidenfeld joined the FBI in 1951 and served in Knoxville, Tenn., Chicago and Butte, Mont., before being transferred in 1970 to Washington, where he worked with the agency’s radio engineering facility.

His duties involved checking for bugs at embassies and other government facilities. He retired from the FBI in 1980 but continued to do de-bugging work for the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

For Full Story

Gov. Blago Campaign Targeted Chicago Trib Owner for $25,000

The feds are interested in this part of the case and have interviewed Sam Zell, owner of the Chicago Tribune. Interestingly, it was the Chicago Sun-Times, the competing newspaper in town that broke this story. Thank goodness for two-newspaper towns.

BY NATASHA KORECKI, DAVE MCKINNEY AND DAVID ROEDER
Chicago Sun-Times
CHICAGO — Tribune Co. chairman Sam Zell was targeted for $25,000 by the Blagojevich campaign last November while the company’s Wrigley Field deal was under consideration and two weeks before the ex-governor was arrested, internal campaign documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

Zell’s name appeared on a Nov. 25, 2008, document titled “Focus List” among a group of 33 potential donors.

Alongside Zell’s name was the $25,000 figure and a notation that read: “Rod to follow up.” On a Sept. 22, 2008, fund-raising document titled “Call List,” an entry noted “Sam Party on 9.27.”

In another campaign document dated Dec. 3, 2008, Tribune Co. sports consultant Mark Ganis is listed among 143 names of potential donors for tentative or scheduled fund-raising events. Next to Ganis’ name are the notations “New York Event” and “Rod went to dinner on 9/19. Rob needs to follow up.”

The Tribune Co., parent of the Chicago Tribune, hired Ganis to help structure a sale of Wrigley. His name also appeared on the September call list next to a notation that read: “Patti and Rod dinner.”

Lawyers for the former governor and his brother, Robert, who headed his campaign fund, told the Sun-Times on Thursday they did not solicit Zell for cash during that time.

For Full Story

Fed Judge Gives ex-Chicago Cop 12 Years in Mob Case

Here’s a police department that could use an upgrade when it comes to its reputation. Previously allegations of torture. Citizen beatings. And now a conviction like this. Not good.

By STEVE WARMBIR
Chicago Sun-Times
CHICAGO –A man can be a good cop one day, a corrupt one the next, a federal judge noted as he sentenced a former Chicago Police officer to 12 years in prison for helping mob killer Frank Calabrese Sr. get critical information about a federal investigation into an Outfit hit.

Anthony “Twan” Doyle, 64, was once a Chicago Police officer of the month, and while he had a decent career, “he picked the wrong people to try to help,” U.S. District Judge James Zagel said in giving Doyle a break from the 15 years or more in prison he could have received.

Doyle repeatedly visited Calabrese Sr. when the mob killer was in prison in Michigan and took messages to the man running Calabrese’s street operations back home.

More important, Doyle told Calabrese Sr. when the FBI retrieved a bloody glove from a police evidence warehouse where Doyle worked.

For Full Story

Dead Butterflies and Federal Prison?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Michigan Dentist Kevin Rucinski may have the butterflies when he gets sentenced in federal court in Bay City later this year. And for good reason.

The affable dentist in the quaint little Northern Michigan community of Roscommon pleaded guilty earlier this month to violating the Endangered Species Act by buying rare dried insects including butterflies, spiders and beetles from overseas on eBay and failing to file a declaration for Importation or Exportation of Fish and Wildlife and failing to pay importation fees that amounted to more than $5,000, according to his guilty plea in federal court in Bay City, Mi.

He faces $20,000 in fines and restitution and a possible prison sentence of up to a year.

Imagine, if he goes off to prison and turns to a killer/drug trafficker and tells the guy what he’s in for.

Funny thing is Rucinski was busted once before for importing dead dried butterflies and fined.

But after that, he kept buying those dang insects and violating federal law, according to a plea agreement drawn up the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, the friendly dentist only wanted to say that he was a collector of the insects. He declined to comment further for the story.

According to his guilty plea agreement , the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had intercepted a UPS package in January 2006 addressed to Rucinski. The package had come from Hong Kong and contained imported dead butterflies in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

At the time, he was given a violation notice, fined $225 and directed to a website to learn about the laws and regulations regarding the import of fish and wildlife, a court document said.

“Nevertheless, Ruckinski continued to buy and import dried insects, including butterflies ….spiders, beetles, and mollusk shells”, the court document said.

Between Oct. 2005 and November 2006, he made over 1,000 successful bids for such items on eBay. Sometimes he paid $150 for a single, dried butterfly, the court document said.

In all, he paid $15,000 for the wildlife shipments and evaded fees and licensing that would have cost him in excess of $5,000, the court document said. Under the plea agreement, he is expected to pay a $15,000 fine and $5,000 in restitution. The sentencing guidelines range between 6 to 12 months, but it’s unclear whether the judge will will send him off to prison.  No sentencing date has been set.

Read Guilty Plea Agreement

FBI Arrests ex-D.C. Official in Bribery Sting

The D.C. government is just recovering from its Tax office scandal in which about $50 million was stolen. Now we have another scandal, though thankfully it doesn’t match up to the tax scandal.

By Del Quentin Wilber and Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — A D.C. government official and a business executive were arrested yesterday on bribery charges involving city technology contracts that included “ghost” workers and kickbacks, federal authorities said.

Raiding offices in the hunt for documents, FBI agents carted away boxes and envelopes throughout the day from the Office of the Chief Technology Officer, the center of the alleged fraud.

In court documents released yesterday, FBI agent Andrew Sekela laid out the complicated and audacious schemes allegedly orchestrated by a mid-level manager who approved many contracts involving the city government’s technology needs.

Authorities said the conspiracy was uncovered with the help of a D.C. government employee who recorded conversations with the executive and the city official.

The ultimate cost to the city is not known, but the disclosure comes as it is trying to recoup its losses from an embarrassing tax swindle that siphoned almost $50 million from its coffers over almost two decades.

Until recently, the technology office was headed by Vivek Kundra, who has taken a job as President Obama’s chief information officer. A White House official confirmed last night that Kundra has taken a leave of absence.
For Full Story


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