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Archive for March, 2009

Feds Indict Ex-NASA Official on Charges of Steering Millions to Private Client

The remnants of corruption from the Bush administration continue to trickle in. In this case, a NASA official may have had more than the success of the space program on his mind.

By NEDRA PICKLER
Associated Press
WASHINGTON – A former top NASA official has been indicted on charges of steering $9.6 million in agency funds to a consulting client.

The U.S. attorney’s office announced a three-count indictment today against Courtney Stadd of Bethesda, Md., who had served as NASA’s chief of staff and White House liaison.

The indictment accuses Stadd of steering money from an earth science appropriation to Mississippi State University, which was paying him as a consultant. Stadd is also accused of lying to NASA ethics officials investigating the matter.

Stadd faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on all three charges.

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FBI Surveilled Off-Duty U.S. Capitol Police Before Inauguration

The lead up to the Jan. 20  inauguration was more intense than any event before. Here’s a pretty good example of just how intense it was.

By Spencer Hsu, Mary Beth Sheridan and Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — In the days leading up to President Obama’s inauguration, U.S. law enforcement agencies huddled regularly in an effort to minimize any possible security risk to an event that promised record crowds for the country’s first black president.

But one agenda item led authorities to a target close to home: the ranks of the U.S. Capitol Police.

An FBI investigation that included taped surveillance had placed two off-duty veteran Capitol Police officers in the company of individuals whose racial views and capacity for violence were under scrutiny.

Although the recorded discussion did not center on Obama, federal law enforcement officials wanted to ensure that the officers were not on duty covering the Capitol, where the president took the oath of office, according to two sources involved in the matter.

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Uncertainty Abounds When it Comes to Appointments of U.S. Attorneys

U.S. Atty. Michael Garcia stepped down

U.S. Atty. Michael Garcia stepped down

By Allan Lengel
Ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — In these uncertain times, there’s plenty uncertainty as to who will fill the dozens of presidential-appointed U.S. Attorney posts around the country. Things are moving slowly.

So far, there have been no official nominations for any new U.S. Attorneys, though there have been plenty of recommendations and a whirlwind of speculation.

At this point, one thing appears certain: Chicago’s U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, a Bush appointee who is often spoken of in glowing terms among colleagues nationwide, is staying put under the Obama regime.

The Obama administration has asked the other current U.S. Attorneys to stay put until further notice. But slowly, here and there, Bush-appointed U.S. Attorneys have been leaving to go into private practice or run for office.  Many others are flooding the job market with resumes.

There are 93 U.S. Attorney posts in the nation.

To date, the Justice Department says there are 50 sitting U.S. Attorneys who are Bush appointees. The rest are either “acting” or “interim” U.S. Attorneys. The Obama  regime has indicated that some U.S. Attorneys might be able to stay even if they were Republican appointees.

In places like New Orleans, the U.S. Attorney hopes to stay on. In Pittsburgh, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, a conservative Bush appointee, has expressed interest in staying, but that is not likely to happen, sources say.

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FBI Raid of Atlanta Charity is Triggering Questions

Any time the FBI raids your charity or business, questions start to pop up. In Atlanta, an FBI raid has sparked questions and made some lose faith in the charitable Angel Food Ministries.

By DIONNE WALKER
Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA — For more than a decade, Angel Food Ministries seemed like a godsend for families who purchased its low-cost food boxes and the churches that shared millions in revenue for distributing the goods.

It became an economic juggernaut in the faith community, employing hundreds, feeding thousands a month and pouring $19 million into its network of more than 5,000 host churches in 35 states.

Now, a lawsuit coupled with an FBI raid at the group’s headquarters has raised accusations of financial mismanagement at the nonprofit. The raid and ensuing FBI investigation have left congregations and church leaders weighing whether to cut their ties to the high-profile charity after the reported disclosure that six-figure salaries were paid to its founders.

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Law Professor Says Leave Patriot Act Intact: “The Act Works”

By Nathan A. Sales
Christian Science Monitor
ARLINGTON, Va. — Remember when the USA Patriot Act was seen as a common-sense counterterrorism tool? Congress enacted the law shortly after the 9/11 attacks by large bipartisan majorities. It wasn’t even close.

And for good reason: The Patriot Act made relatively modest changes to the law as it stood on Sept. 11, 2001. The act simply let terrorist- and spy-hunters use some of the same tools regular cops have had in their arsenal for decades. And it updated existing laws to make them more effective against terrorist threats.

As President Obama forges new security policies, let’s hope he keeps the Patriot Act intact. The act works. According to the Justice Department, the Patriot Act helped take down Al Qaeda cells in Buffalo, N.Y. and Portland, Ore. Prosecutors used it to convict a Floridian who pled guilty to raising money for a terrorist group called Palestinian Islamic Jihad. And The act led to the conviction of a man who threatened to torch a Texas mosque.

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Nevada U.S. Attorney Greg Brower Figures He’ll Get the Boot

U.S. Atty. Gregory Bower

U.S. Atty. Gregory Brower

Some U.S. Attorneys haven’t waited to get the boot. Some hope to stay. And some figure they’ll get the boot and are passing around resumes.

By MARTHA BELLISLE
Reno Gazette-Journal
RENO, Nevada — As the Obama administration takes over, Nevada’s U.S. attorney is looking for a new job, though he has not been asked to leave.

“It seems clear that the new administration will be making a change at some point, and in some districts, there have been resignations and vacancies, and names have already been forwarded to the White House,” said Greg Brower, who last year replaced Daniel Bogden, one of eight U.S. attorneys fired in December 2006 as part of a controversial purge that led to congressional investigations and ultimately the forced resignation of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Although Brower has not been told anything about losing his position, he said he expects that he’ll be out of office by fall.

“By the end of the summer, every district will have started or completed its own process,” he said. “I’m still enjoying the job, but I anticipate we’ll see a whole new batch of attorneys by the fall.”

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Judge Rules that Border Agent in Arizona Used Excessive Force in Fatal Shooting

This was an interesting ruling. The judge ruled that a U.S. Border Patrol agent used excessive force when he fatally shot an illegal immigrant. At the same time, he reduced the award from $1 million to $350,000 because the guy was running from law enforcement. The reduction in money seems to say the agent was wrong — kind of.

By Jamar Younger
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
TUCSON — A U.S. District Court judge ruled Wednesday that the 2003 shooting death of an illegal immigrant by a Border Patrol agent was not justified, in response to a civil lawsuit filed by the man’s family.

The family of Ricardo Olivares Martinez, 22, will receive $350,000 after it was deemed that Border Patrol agent Cesar Cervantes used excessive force when he shot Martinez in the chest several times in June 2003, according to a decision written by Judge Raner Collins.

Martinez’s family originally was awarded $1 million, but Collins reduced the figure because Martinez was fleeing a law-enforcement officer, the decision stated.

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Feds to Fight Judge’s Order to Release Documents in Eliot Spitzer Probe

Ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer

Ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer

Ok. There’s two levels of interest when it comes to these documents. One level: Did the government have justification to go as far as it did to get wiretaps and follow Eliot Spitzer to the landmark hotel, the Mayflower, in Washington? The second level is purely fodder for the tabloids: Juicy details of the underground life of a high profile and sometimes abrasive politician who had a promising future in the Democratic party.

By William K. Rashbaum
New York Times
NEW YORK — Prosecutors of the prostitution case that exposed Eliot Spitzer as a client while he was governor are appealing a court order directing them to unseal records that may shed light on the origins of the investigation. The case led to Mr. Spitzer’s resignation as governor of New York in March 2008.

The Feb. 19 ruling by Jed S. Rakoff of United States District Court in Manhattan ordered the federal prosecutors to provide the records – including sworn affidavits that were part of wiretap applications in the case – to The New York Times, which in December filed a motion to unseal the material.

The prosecutors, from the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, filed a notice in court on Monday saying that they would appeal Judge Rakoff’s ruling to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a decision that was made by senior Justice Department officials in Washington.

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