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Archive for April, 2009

Ex-Gov Rod Blagojevich Expected to be Indicted Today

Ex-Gov. Blagojevich in happier times

Ex-Gov. Blagojevich in happier times

CHICAGO — The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the U.S. Attorney’s office will announce today the indictment of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald’s office is expected to issue a press release and a court filing late this afternoon. The office  has only said the matter involved a significant criminal matter.

Blagojevich, 52, was arrested in December on public corruption charges centering on a variety of deals including the filling of Pres. Obama’s senate seat. The indictment is the next step in the criminal matter.
Allan Lengel

ATF Busts Father and Son in N.Y. in Untaxed Cigarette Scheme

marlboro2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Sure, the beautiful bonding between father and son is admirable. But there are limits to how admirable it is when it involves the world of crime.

ATF agents on Wednesday busted Guang Ming Wang, 58, and his son Feishan Wang, 30, in Flushing, N.Y., following a nine-month undercover investigation in which the men allegedly bought $846,000 in untaxed cigarettes and sold agents 103,950 N.Y. State/City tax stamps for the cigarettes for $4,000. The stamps are put on packs of cigarette to make them look legit.

The arrest highlighted the growing problem with criminals and store owners buying and selling untaxed cigarettes in high-taxed cigarette states like N.Y.

In recent years terrorist organizations and organized crime have gotten into the high-profit black market.Store owners who buy the untaxed cigarettes make far greater profits than the honest merchants who pay much more for taxed smokes.

The ATF said the two men allegedly conspired to cheat the state of $1.8 million in tax revenue.

“In these hard economic times, selling untaxed cigarettes are putting our law abiding merchants at a hugh disadvantage,” said Ronald B. Turk, head of the ATF in New York said in a prepared statement. “The legal tax revenue collected on tobacco products goes towards improving our schools, our highways and our quality of living.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Investigating Assessor’s Letter in Illinois (Chicago Tribune)

War on Drugs Seems Lost (Miami Herald Columnist)

Mistrial for Ex-Philly Cop (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Alaskans Have Mixed Reaction to ex-Sen. Ted Stevens Case (AP)

Man Arrested in Fla. for Stealing FBI Car

Some how stealing an FBI car doesn’t seem like the wisest career path.

 

tampa1
By TBO.com
TAMPA – An unmarked FBI car has been found, and a Tampa man has been arrested and charged with the theft.

The 2006 silver Pontiac Grand Prix was stolen about 1:30 p.m. from the Century Buick Pontiac GMC dealership at 3308 W. Hillsborough Ave.

According to Tampa police, a mechanic was working on the car when he noticed a man loitering nearby. A short time later, when his attention was diverted, the man stole the car, police said.

Tampa police Cpl. Harold McCray was on patrol when he spotted the car being driven recklessly near North 26th Street and East Linebaugh Avenue at 11:17 p.m. Tuesday. It looked similar to the description he had heard of the stolen FBI vehicle, so he ran the Florida tag: X74IVY.

The Grand Prix turned onto the North 26th Street, and he followed it.

Soon after, the vehicle’s tag information came back as belonging to the FBI and having been stolen.

For Full Story

TSA Still Waiting For Collective Bargaining

Morale is low, attrition is high. It’s clear collective bargaining would help improve things over at the Transportation Security Administration, which overseas the security of our airports. The Obama administration needs to address this sooner than later. 

By Steve Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON tsa— Border Patrol agents can do it. So can federal protective officers and U.S. Capitol Police. But Transportation Security Administration officers, who screen passengers at airports across the country, are not allowed to engage in collective bargaining.

The unions representing TSA employees say that one result is the agency has the lowest morale and highest attrition rate of all federal agencies, and that they are eager to see change.

They have the backing of President Obama, who promised on the campaign trail that collective bargaining and workplace protections “will be a priority” for his administration. “It is unacceptable for TSOs to work under unfair rules and without workplace protections — this makes it more difficult for them to perform their jobs,” Obama wrote in a letter to the American Federation of Government Employees in October. “Since 2001, TSA has had the unfettered ability to deny its workforce even the most basic labor rights and protections.”

So far, no changes have been made. The legislation that established the agency after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, states that the decision on whether to allow collective bargaining rests with the TSA administrator.

An Ex-Lobbyist and the Virginia Gov’s Brother-in-Law are Among Candidates for U.S. Atty. in Va.

It’s an interesting mix of candidates for the U.S. Atty. post  in Virginia. The question is whether President Obama wants to deal with the possible backlash of appointing an ex-lobbyist or the Virginia governor’s brother-in-law.  The latter might look just a little too much like political cronyism even if he is well qualified.  Va. Gov. Tim Kane’s name surfaced during the campaign as a possible vice presidential candidate and was a big booster of Obama and helped Virginia turn into a blue state, the first time since Lyndon Johnson.

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A former corporate lobbyist and the brother-in-law of Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine are among four candidates recommended by Virginia’s U.S. senators for U.S. attorney in Alexandria, one of the nation’s most prominent law-enforcement posts, officials said yesterday.

Ex-Lobbyist Neil MacBride

Ex-Lobbyist Neil MacBride

Neil MacBride, a former prosecutor and chief counsel to Vice President Biden who lobbied federal officials as recently as mid-2007, and Dwight C. Holton, a federal prosecutor in Oregon and the brother of Kaine’s wife, are on the list of names sent to the White House by Sens. James Webb (D) and Mark Warner (D). The list also includes Erik R. Barnett, a federal prosecutor in Alexandria who heads the narcotics unit, and Robert P. Crouch Jr., a former U.S. attorney in Roanoke.

The Alexandria job has grown increasingly visible in recent years as the U.S. attorney has handled high-profile terrorism and national security cases. Recommendations from home-state senators are traditionally key to the appointment.

For Full Story

FBI in Michigan Busts President of Motorcycle Gang Named “Fat Dog” and 17 Other Members

michigan11Any organization headed by a guy named “Fat Dog” can’t be up to  any good.

BY TAMMY STABLES BATTAGLIA
DETROIT FREE PRESS

Federal agents arrested the head and 17 members of a nationwide motorcycle gang based in Clinton Township, seizing 55 pounds of marijuana, 1000 Vicodin pills, 1.5 pounds of methamphetamine, 15 slot machines, 42 firearms and $12,000 in cash in the process.

The agencies also seized the Devil’s Diciples “clubhouses” in Port Huron and at 43653 Gratiot in Clinton Township, according to a release issued this afternoon.

The group intentionally spells its name wrong.

FBI agents today arrested the gang’s leader, Jeff Garvin Smith, aka “Fat Dog,” for possessing two sets of body armor. It’s illegal for a convicted felon like Smith to possess body armor, according to the release.

For Full Story

Commentary: Justice Failed to Deliver Justice in the Sen. Stevens Trial

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The case against Sen. Ted Stevens was supposed to be an easy one. Clean. No complications.

No need to prove bribery, just that the curmudgeonly Senator, who was known for wheeling and dealing, had lied on financial disclosure forms by failing to report $250,000 in free gifts and renovations to his Alaska home.

Instead, it turned into a nightmare and an embarrassing one at that for the Justice Department.

First off the trial was a mess.  Time after time, the defense complained about the prosecutions’ failure to turn over  evidence it was required to, or properly handle witnesses.  

 U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan admonished the prosecution repeatedly  and at one point said he had no confidence in their ability to give Stevens a fair trial.  Not good.

 The judge only seemed to get angrier.  Meanwhile, over at Main Justice, some folks saw the mess unfolding and worried that the prosecution team would blow this high profile case involving a powerful Senator. Bringing down a senator is not taken lightly over there.

Miraculously, in October, there was a conviction, which was more a  testmonial to the simplicity of the case rather than the execution by the prosecution. 

 In post-trial proceedings, things got worse.  Judge Sullivan held three prosecutors in contempt for failing to follow a court order.  And an FBI agent filed an affidavit in court accusing another FBI agent of misconduct during the investigation.

    Could there have been more missteps?

    It became clearer and clearer that the government, if not the judge, would have no choice but to call for a new trial or outright dismiss the case.

   On Wednesday, the Justice Department moved to do the right thing and filed a motion to erase the conviction and drop the case all together. The embarrassment and injustice proved to be too much. A hearing on the matter is set for Tuesday.

Read more »

Justice Department to Drop Case Against Convicted Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens

If ever there was a federal prosecution begging to be dismissed, this is it. The prosecution time and again screwed up and was admonished by the judge. Then came the big bomb: an FBI agent accused another agent on the case of misconduct. In the end, some questions linger: How could the prosecution have screwed up so badly? And will someone in the Justice Department get fired or demoted and will the FBI agent accused of wrongdoing face criminal charges?

By Nina Totenberg
National Public Radio
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department will drop all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, NPR has learned.

A jury convicted Stevens last fall of seven counts of lying on his Senate disclosure form in order to conceal $250,000 in gifts from an oil industry executive and other friends.

Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, however, he lost his bid for an eighth full term in office just days after he was convicted. Since then, charges of prosecutorial misconduct have delayed his sentencing and prompted defense motions for a new trial.

According to Justice Department officials, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to drop the case against Stevens rather than continue to defend the conviction in the face of persistent problems stemming from the actions of prosecutors.

The judge in the Stevens case has repeatedly delayed sentencing and criticized trial prosecutors for what he’s called prosecutorial misconduct. At one point, prosecutors were held in contempt.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Federal Marshals Seized Madoff’s 55-foot Boat (AP)