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Archive for March, 2009

Fed Judge in Va. Says Justice Dept. May Have Hoodwinked Defendant

If true, this is another black eye for the Justice Department, which has been trying to dig its way out of allegations of misconduct in another high profile case — Sen. Ted Stevens. Are these isolated incidents? A good question for someone to ask.

MATTHEW BARAKAT
The Associated Press
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Justice Department may have hoodwinked a defendant in a high-profile terrorism case into thinking his plea bargain would protect him from furthe

Sami Al-Arian

Sami Al-Arian

r prosecutions, a federal judge said Monday.

Monday’s hearing in U.S. District Court was the latest in which Judge Leonie Brinkema questioned the Justice Department’s tactics in pursuing a criminal contempt case against former professor Sami Al-Arian, once accused of being a leading Palestinian terrorist.

Brinkema gave Al-Arian’s lawyers 10 days to file papers seeking dismissal of the case on the grounds that prosecutors failed to keep promises made under the plea bargain. She acknowledged that the protections Al-Arian wants enforced may not have been explicitly outlined in the original agreement.

“But I think there’s something more important here, and that’s the integrity of the Justice Department,” she said.
For Full Story

FBI and Other Agencies Hitting Roadblocks in Pakistan

This latest development doesn’t bode well for the cooperation between the U.S. and the nation of  Paskistan, which is central to the war on terrorism.

By Josh Meyer
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — — U.S. efforts to identify and thwart the growing threat posed by Pakistani extremists who enjoy easy access to the United States — and already have a significant presence here — are being undermined by the government of Pakistan, according to current and former U.S. and Western counter-terrorism officials.

After the terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, in November, which killed more than 170 people, the FBI and other U.S. agencies went on high alert, searching without success for evidence of plotters in the United States.

But they were essentially shut down in efforts to work the Pakistan side of the investigation, not only to find additional plotters but to learn more about the Al Qaeda-affiliated Pakistani militant group suspected of orchestrating the attacks, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and its global network of cells, the officials said.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III flew to Islamabad last week, in part to press for better cooperation. But the FBI and other U.S. officials have been denied access to about 20 members of Lashkar, including about six senior officials also suspected of heading the group’s global operations and fundraising.

For Full Story

First Black Atty. Gen. and Gov. Wallace’s Daughter Celebrate Voting Rights March

George Wallace

George Wallace

If ever there was a symbolic meeting of two different worlds, this was it. This nation’s come a long way.

By PHILLIP RAWLS
Associated Press Writer
SELMA, Ala. – The nation’s first black attorney general and Gov. George C. Wallace’s daughter celebrated the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march Sunday – 44 years after state troopers from her father’s administration beat marchers as they started the landmark journey.

Peggy Wallace Kennedy introduced Attorney General Eric Holder at a historic Selma church filled to overflowing.

“It’s reconciliation and redemption,” Wallace’s daughter said.
For Full Story

Suspected Baltimore Drug Dealer Allegedly Has Ties to Mexican Drug Cartel and “Hollywood in a Bottle”

Here in Baltimore, like many other major cities in this nation, the goodness of the city isn’t always what it seems. Here’s the latest disappointing tale.

By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper
BALTIMORE — On Feb. 25, a Baltimore drug conspiracy was in the limelight as part of the public unveiling of an ongoing federal effort to destroy the Sinaloa Cartel of Mexico. At a press conference in Washington D.C., officials said that Operation Xcellerator, an anti-narcotic initiative targeting the powerful cartel’s operations in the United States, had in the past 21 months arrested more than 750 people and seized more than $59 million in drug proceeds, 12,000 kilos of cocaine, 1,200 pounds of methamphetamine, 1.3 million Ecstasy pills, and more than 160 weapons.

Eight of those arrested and charged for their dealings with the Sinaloa Cartel are part of a Baltimore-based drug conspiracy that is tied, through one of its members–Lawrence Schaffner “Lorenzo” Reeves–to an educational seminar program for children seeking to enter the entertainment business. Reeves is co-founder of the seminar business, called Hollywood in a Bottle, and a seminar it held last summer at a Baltimore City public school received support from Baltimore Comptroller Joan Pratt.

For Full Story

Four Members of Anti-Government Group Arrested After FBI Undercover Operation

What better place to stage an overthrow of the government than Las Vegas, a place that probably has more money than our U.S. Treasury.

By The Associated Press
LAS VEGAS — Four members of an anti-government group have been arrested on charges that include money laundering, tax evasion and weapons possession, federal prosecutors said Friday.

Authorities said the four men are members of the Sovereign Movement, a group that attempts to overthrow the government and defy authority with “paper terrorism.” The arrests in Las Vegas on Thursday capped a three-year investigation into the group’s activities led by the Nevada Joint Terrorism Task Force, U.S. Attorney for Nevada Greg Brower said.

A grand jury indictment in federal court in Las Vegas names Samuel Davis, 54, of Council, Idaho; Shawn Rice, 46, of Seligman, Ariz.; Harold Call, 67, of Las Vegas; and Jan Lindsey, of Henderson.

For Full Story

Ex-Prosecutor Asks: What Should Happen to a Fed Judge Convicted of a Federal Offense?

Steve Levin

Steve Levin

By Steve Levin
Fraud With Peril Blog

What should happen to a Federal Judge convicted of a Federal offense?

If you have not been following the news closely, you might have missed this story: Federal District Judge Samuel Kent in Texas has pled guilty to one count of obstruction of justice stemming from false statements he made about his sexual advances to various female employees.

In so doing, Kent faces up to 20 years in prison under the statute, though it is anticipated that prosecutors will recommend that Judge Vinson sentence Kent to three years confinement pursuant to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The issue of sending a Federal Judge to jail raises some interesting issues, some of which are applicable to many white collar defendants who find themselves in a Federal courtroom. Some of which are not.

Every BOP inmate was sent to prison by a Federal Judge. This fact, and the security concerns that flow from this fact, will no doubt be a factor in Judge Vinson’s decision whether to place Kent among those who may very well have a grudge against him or Federal Judges in general. To put Kent in prison would also be a tremendous burden to the BOP staff.

Here’s why:

Typically, one might expect a defendant with Kent’s background who has been convicted of obstruction to be housed in a minimum security prison. A minimum security prison has the lowest security level and Kent’s designation to one would probably ease any concerns that BOP staff might have with respect to Kent’s safety.

To Read More

Prez Chides Atty. Gen. Eric Holder For Calling America a “Nation of Cowards”

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder wanted to light a fire under America on the touchy-touchy subject of race. Apparently the president didn’t want that much fire. Will the president try to tamp down future comments, and if so, will it impact Holder’s independence? One big concern during confirmation was that Holder might not exercise his independence in relation to the president. We’ll see how that goes.

By HELENE COOPER
New York Times
WASHINGTON – President Obama has chided his attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., for describing America as a “nation of cowards” when discussing race, wading into a tumult that flared over Mr. Holder’s indictment of the way this country talks about ethnicity.

“I think it’s fair to say that if I had been advising my attorney general, we would have used different language,” Mr. Obama said in a mild rebuke from America’s first black president to its first black attorney general.

In an interview with The New York Times on Friday, the president said that despite Mr. Holder’s choice of words, he had a point.

“We’re oftentimes uncomfortable with talking about race until there’s some sort of racial flare-up or conflict,” he said, adding, “We could probably be more constructive in facing up to sort of the painful legacy of slavery and Jim Crow and discrimination.”
For Full Story

The “Rats” In the Mob are Helping Feds Wipe Out the Families

John Gotti Jr./youtube

John Gotti Jr./youtube

They don’t make mobsters like they use to. In the day, most mobsters lived by the golden rule of silence. But these days, more and more of the boys are jumping ship and cutting deals.

By Tom Leonard
The Daily Telegraph of London
NEW YORK — ANYONE looking for evidence of the pathetic state of America’s once mighty Mafia could find it last week in one of Brooklyn’s federal courtrooms.

On the defence bench, a bespectacled 62-year-old man in scruffy green sweater and grey trousers sat impassively as an alleged former workmate, a fellow hitman in New York’s Gambino crime family, spilled the beans on everything from the murderousness of its menfolk to the infidelity of its women.

The trial of Charles Carneglia for five murders and racketeering charges has been electrified by the evidence of John Alite, a self-confessed assassin for the Gambino clan and their ruling family, the Gottis, who has “ratted” on his old friends.

Alite’s lurid succession of claims included that John Gotti Jr ordered a string of murders, that he (Alite) had an affair with Gotti’s married sister, Victoria, and that two police officers helped in at least one of the Gambino murders.

For Full Story

UNDER THE CATEGORY OF OTHER RATS

Bernie Madoff Expected to Plead Guilty Thursday (N.Y. Times)