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Archive for March, 2009

FBI Agent Says Recent Terrorism Attacks Could Encourage al Qaeda and Others

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The FBI’s James McJunkin told a Congressional Committee Thursday that the “principal lesson from the Mumbai attacks remains that a small number of trained and determined attackers with relatively unsophisticated weapons can do a great deal of damage.”

“Last week’s attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahaore, Pakistan is another example of a low-tech, but potentially high impact operation,” McJunken, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism division told the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection.

“We are concerned about the possibility that the other terrorist groups, including al Qaeda or its affiliates, will take note of these attacks and attempt to emulate them,” he said.
The attacks in Mumbai last Nov. 26 killed more than 170 people including six Americans.
McJunkin lauded the cooperation between the American and India’s investigative agencies.

“The unprecedented collaboration we developed with our Indian law enforcement and intelligence counterparts in this investigation has strengthened our relationship with the Government of India.”

To Read Full Speech

Suspected Mexican Drug Smuggler Whose Brother Killed DEA Agent Pleads Not Guilty In Colo.

Here’s just another sign of Mexico’s long reach into the U.S. drug trade.

The Associated Press
DENVER-A suspected drug smuggler from Mexico whose brother was convicted of killing a U.S. drug agent has pleaded not guilty to racketeering and marijuana charges.

Miguel Angel Caro-Quintero entered his plea Thursday in a heavily guarded federal courtroom in Denver Thursday.

He’s accused of smuggling marijuana into Colorado in half-ton quantities.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

TSA to Review Airport Incident Involving Louisiana Senator (AP)

It’s Off to Prison for Bernie Madoff After Pleading GUILTY!

Bernie Madoff/youtube

Bernie Madoff/youtube

Bernie Madoff, one of the saddest figures of our times, is finally headed to prison after living far too long in his New York penthouse. Now the question is whether his wife will get to keep anything and whether she knew what was going on. She may end up being sort of a Carmela Soprano figure as in HBO’s popular series the Sopranos, who knew what was going on and benefited, but didn’t have any involvement. Maybe.

By DIANA B. HENRIQUES and JACK HEALY
New York Times

NEW YORK —   The disgraced financier Bernard L. Madoff was immediately handcuffed and led off to jail on Thursday after a hearing in which he pleaded guilty to running a vast Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of billions of dollars.

Rather than letting Mr. Madoff remain free on bail and return to his apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Judge Denny Chin of Federal District Court ordered Mr. Madoff remanded as he awaited sentencing.

“He has incentive to flee, he has the means to flee, and thus he presents the risk of flight,” Judge Chin said. “Bail is revoked.”

Some of the dozens of Mr. Madoff’s victims in the downtown Manhattan courtroom began to applaud the ruling but were cautioned by Judge Chin to remain silent. As Mr. Madoff’s hands were cuffed behind his back, some victims pointed and nodded with apparent satisfaction.

And as he was led out of the richly paneled courtroom into an antiseptic white-tiled hallway, at least two of his victims were in tears.

“They are tears of relief,” explained Norma Hill of Armonk, N.Y., who sat in the first row of the packed courtroom. “It was a very courageous stand that the judge took. It has restored my faith in the justice system.”

For Full Story

Read Criminal Information

Fed and State Prosecutors Preparing For Surge of Financial Fraud Cases

We knew mortgage fraud in this country had spun out of control and we certainly remember Enron. But Bernie Madoff was a signal that fraud in this nation was so pervasive that more needed to be done. The public is demanding it and it looks like the fed and state prosecutors are starting to respond.

By DAVID SEGAL
New York Times
NEW YORK — Spurred by rising public anger, federal and state investigators are preparing for a surge of prosecutions of financial fraud.

Across the country, attorneys general have already begun indicting dozens of loan processors, mortgage brokers and bank officers. Last week alone, there were guilty pleas in Minnesota, Delaware, North Carolina and Connecticut and sentences in Florida and Vermont – all stemming from home loan scams.

With the Obama administration focused on stabilizing the banks and restoring confidence in the stock market, it has said little about federal civil or criminal charges. But its proposed budget contains hints that it will add to this weight of litigation, including money for more F.B.I. agents to investigate mortgage fraud and white-collar crime, and a 13 percent raise for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Officials at the Justice Department have not said much in public about their plans. But people who have met with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. say he is weighing a range of strategies.

For Full Story

Feds Interview Chicago Tribune Owner Sam Zell in Blagojevich Case

Sam Zell, the rather unpopular newspaper baron who took over the Chicago Tribune Co. at one of the worst times in the industry’s history, now finds himself involved in the investigation into ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Zell gave Blagojevich a gift in 2008. Is that some innocent gesture or something more? Maybe Zell’s paper the Chicago Tribune will be able to find out.

Sam Zell/ucla photo

Sam Zell/ucla photo

By Todd Lighty and Robert Becker
Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO — Tribune Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Zell hired well-known defense lawyer Anton Valukas and was interviewed in January by federal prosecutors as a “potential witness” in the criminal investigation of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the company acknowledged Wednesday.

Zell could not be reached for comment, and company officials did not respond to questions about details of his interview with the U.S. attorney’s office.

Valukas is a former U.S. attorney who specializes in white-collar criminal investigations and major civil cases at Jenner & Block. He declined to comment.

Donald Liebentritt, Tribune Co. executive vice president and general counsel, provided a statement that said the firm has represented the company for many years in a number of matters.

“Mr. Valukas was recommended to work on the matter because it involved a subpoena issued by the U.S. attorney’s office,” according to the statement from Liebentritt, which came in response to questions from the Chicago Tribune.
For Full Story

Some Congress Members Fear Mexican Cartels Might Help Terrorists Attack U.S.

It’s hard to say whether Congress members are taking this too far. Then again, who would have thought the Mexican drug wars would create so many problems here in the U.S. What ever the case, the situation south of the border can’t be ignored here in the states.

By Jordy Yager

Rep. Henry Cuellar/official photo

Rep. Henry Cuellar/official photo

The Hill
WASHINGTON — Members of Congress are raising the alarm that war-like conditions on the Mexican border could lead to Mexican drug cartels helping terrorists attack the U.S.

“When you have…gangs and they have loose ties with al Qaeda and then you have Iran not too far away from building a nuclear capability, nuclear terrorism may not be far off,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R- Ariz.), a member of the House Armed Services committee.

The Mexican drug cartels’ violence accounted for more than 6,000 deaths last year, and in recent months it has begun spilling over into the districts of lawmakers from the southwest region, even as far north as Phoenix, Ariz. — which has become, Franks noted, the “kidnap capital of the U.S.”

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), whose district borders Mexico, said that while the situation is bad, it could easily get worse.

“The goal of the cartels is to make money,” said Cuellar, who sits on the House Homeland Security committee. “If they can smuggle in drugs and human cargo, then certainly they can smuggle other things in, other devices to cause us harm.”

“We have not heard of any associations, but is there the possibility? I’ll be the first to say, yeah. They have the routes, they can very easily smuggle in other things.”
For Full Story

Sen. Reid Recommends President Re-Appoint Fired U.S. Atty. Daniel Bogden in Nevada

Daniel Bogden/utlaw.edu photo

Daniel Bogden/ utlaw photo

Now when you talk about the Justice Department, here’s a little justice.  Daniel Bogden was one of the 9 U.S. Attorneys fired during the Bush regime. Now Sen. Reid wants to right a wrong and have him return. It’s a nice gesture to help patch up an ugly chapter in the Justice Department.

By Lisa Mascaro
Las Vegas Sun
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has recommended that the White House reappoint the former U.S. Attorney in Nevada who had been among nine prosecutors fired by the Bush administration in an unusual purge more than two years ago.

Daniel Bogden had been a career prosecutor with the Department of Justice before being ousted in the unprecedented firings in 2006. He is being vetted now for his old job, Reid’s office said.

Reid, in an interview this afternoon, said he put Bogden’s name forward after consulting with federal judges and those familiar with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Nevada.

“I didn’t just do this on a whim,” Reid said in his office with Nevada press. “I just think it’s so unfair what happened to him.”

Bogden and the other attorneys were dismissed in 2006 leading to widespread investigations of politicization within the Justice department. President George W. Bush’s Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, stepped down in 2007.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Dead Detroit FBI Agent’s Work Leads to Bust

Unfortunately FBI Agent Paul Sorce won’t be around to see this case through, but his work helped bring about the charges. The funeral for the father of four is set for Saturday.

BY ZLATI MEYER
Deroit Free Press
DETROIT — Four Detroit men have been charged as part of a $1.4-million cocaine bust in western Pennsylvania, a case the Detroit FBI agent who died after a car wreck Monday had been working on.

The Michigan men, along with four from Pennsylvania’s Westmoreland and Allegheny counties, helped distribute an estimated 20 kilograms of cocaine last year, Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett said Tuesday. Three of the Detroiters are said to be members of a gang called the A-Team.

FBI Agent Paul Sorce, 44, killed in Harper Woods while on duty, was the Michigan point man for the investigation, Corbett’s spokeswoman Lauren Bozart said. It was unclear if the married father of four was working on the case when his Chevrolet Trailblazer rolled over about noon Monday.

Julio Olivo, 23; Andre Thomas, 23; Charles Edwards, 30; and David Bailey, 23, are charged with possession with the intent to deliver cocaine, delivery of cocaine and criminal conspiracy. Olivo, allegedly the A-team’s second-in-command, is also charged with criminal use of a communication facility.

For Full Story