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Archive for April, 2009

FBI Says Bank Robberies Up in Last Quarter of 2008

Bank robber-Auburn, Mass. Dec. 2008

Bank robber-Auburn, Mass. Dec. 2008

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — There were 1,645 robberies, burglaries and larcenies nationwide involving banks in the last quarter of 2008, up 19.5 percent from the previous quarter in 2008, according to FBI stats released this past week.

The following are stats provided in an FBI Press release:

Of the 1,645 total reported violations, loot was taken in 1,527 incidents (93 percent). In contrast, loot was taken in 1,267 incidents (92 percent) during the third quarter of 2008.

The total amount taken was valued at more than $15.4 million dollars, an increase from the previous quarter’s total of more than $12.5 million stolen.
A note was used in 839 incidents; a firearm was used in 465 incidents; and robbers threatened the use of a weapon in 696 incidents.

Acts of violence were committed during 75 of the reported incidents. These acts included 22 instances involving the discharge of firearms, 37 instances involving assaults, and 15 instances of hostage situations.

Three deaths occurred during this reporting period, all three of which were perpetrators. No law enforcement officers were killed responding to these incidents.
Most violations occurred on Friday. Regardless of the day of the week, violations between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. were the most common.

Missouri U.S. Atty. Catherine Hanaway to Step Down and Join Law Firm With Ex-A.G. John Ashcroft

U.S. Atty. Catherine Hanaway

U.S. Atty. Catherine Hanaway

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The exodus of U.S. Attorneys continues.

The Associated Press is reporting that U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway of the Eastern District of Missouri will resign to join a law firm with former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Her last day is Sunday.

The wire service reported that the Kansas City law firm will be called Ashcroft Hanaway. AP reported that Hanaway will work in St. Louis and Ashcroft will be based in Washington.

Court of Appeals Orders Detroit Reporter to Answer Pre-trial Questions in Case Involving Confidential Sources

David Ashenfelter

David Ashenfelter

The chess game between an ex-federal prosecutor and a Pulitzer Prize reporter continues to play out in Detroit. The media and federal law enforcement community is watching. The latest court order came down on Thursday.

By JOE SWICKARD
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — A federal appeals court said this afternoon that Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter will have to sit for pretrial questioning by attorneys for a former federal prosecutor wanting to find out who leaked word to Ashenfelter that he was under an internal investigation.
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Free Press attorneys had asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to halt the deposition process ordered by U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland for next Tuesday, but the appellate court said in a two-page order that Ashenfelter hadn’t shown Cleland abused his discretion.

Ashenfelter has refused to name his source for his 2004 story, citing First Amendment freedom of press protections and Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

The former prosecutor, Richard Convertino, came under fire and stood trial for alleged misconduct in a discredited 2003 terror trial. He has said that Ashenfelter may have conspired with the leakers to break federal laws. Convertino was acquitted in 2007 of hiding evidence from defense lawyers in the terror trial.

Cleland has said he’ll decide if Ashenfelter’s assertions are valid on a question-by-question basis.
For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Transportation Security Administration Hopes to Ditch Airport Rule Against Carrying on Liquids & Gels

JetIf ever there was an annoying rule, it’s the one at the airport about carrying on liquids and gels. The sooner this one goes away the better. I can’t count how many times I’ve forgotten and had to throw out bottles of water at the security checkpoint.

By Budget Travel website
The TSA’s goal is to lift the restrictions on carrying liquids, aerosols, and gels aboard aircraft. Toward that end, the TSA has been rolling out new luggage screening machines that can tell the difference between a harmless drink and a deadly explosive. Already, about 500 of these AT X-ray machines have been installed. That number should be doubled by year-end.

By fall 2009, the TSA hopes to get rid of its rule that you must carry all of your liquids in a single clear bag. For a brief period, you’ll probably still have to place all of your liquids in a plastic bin separate from your laptop and carry-on bag when passing through airport screening machines.

By next winter, the TSA hopes to lift its size restrictions on liquids, which now limit the carry-on size to 3.4 liquid ounces. The timetable depends on how quickly software updates can be installed on all of the machines and how quickly TSA agents can be trained to use the machines correctly. Officials with the British counterpart to the TSA, the transport ministry, have made a similar pledge.

Another change is to move the baggage screening machines from airport terminals, where they clutter the floor, and put them off-site. So-called “in-line” machines at the Las Vegas and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airports can test bags for explosives without requiring the physical handling of each bag. Las Vegas airport, for once, has embraced the change because it can use the freed-up terminal space to add more slot machines for waiting passengers to use. (For a video explanation of the new baggage inspection system, see below.)

For Full Story

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Yre_NUaAF0&feature=player_embedded

Denver Fed Judge Refuses to Toss Lawsuit Involving Secret Service and Dick Cheney

This case seems to have an amusing aspect to it. Maybe just the thought of Dick Cheney testifying in court seems to have some entertainment value. 

By Felisa Cardona dick-cheney
The Denver Post
DENVER — A federal judge in Denver has declined to toss out a lawsuit against four U.S. Secret Service agents who arrested a man in Beaver Creek in 2006 after he approached then-Vice President Dick Cheney to criticize the Iraq war.

“There are too many disputed issues of material fact to grant summary judgment in this case,” U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello ruled from the bench Tuesday.

Lawyers for the Secret Service had asked that the case be tossed based on “qualified immunity,” meaning the officers are immune from lawsuits if they make an honest mistake in an arrest.

Steven Howards sued the four agents, claiming they violated his civil rights after he was arrested for allegedly harassing Cheney in June 2006. Howards said he simply walked up to Cheney at a Beaver Creek shopping area, touched him and said his policy in Iraq was “disgusting.”
For Full Story

Wiretaps Helps Maryland Feds and Locals Bust 24 People Linked to “Black Guerilla Family” Gang Including Prison Guards

baltimoreThis is a case right out the HBO show “The Wire”; prison guards and  drug dealers.  Authorities were able to listen in on conversations of smuggled prison cell phones.
By Justin Fenton
Baltimore Sun
   
A seven-month investigation that included wiretaps on contraband prison cell phones led to the indictment of 24 people, including four state prison officers, who authorities believe were part of a prison gang that extorted protection money from other inmates, directed drug distribution and arranged attacks on witnesses.

Federal and local law enforcement officials said the suspects are affiliated with the Black Guerilla Family, and placed “hits” on suspected informants and discussed robberies of drug dealers and assaults on rival gang members. Authorities say the investigation helped provide real-time intelligence to the Department of Corrections.

Among those charged was Eric Brown, the alleged leader of the BGF in Maryland, and Tomeka Harris, the operator of the Northeast Baltimore establishment Club 410 that was shut down by police last month. Harris had scoffed at allegations at a hearing that the club was associated with the gang, and testified that the club had a positive impact on the community.

On Monday afternoon, police say they broke up a Black Guerilla Family gang meeting in Druid Hill Park in which 100 to 200 people had gathered. Court documents show that police recovered gang handbooks and a list of members who had violated gang rules.

For Full Story

Read Press Release

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Obama Rules Out Charging CIA Operatives Who Used Harsh Interrogation Techniques

obama-and-biden1Pretty much as many expected, the CIA operatives who used harsh interrogation techiniques won’t be charged. Not a big surprise. One thing for sure, prosecuting those cases would have been one big political and legal mess.

By MARK MAZZETTI and SCOTT SHANE
New York Times
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department made public on Thursday detailed memos describing harsh interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency, as President Obama said that C.I.A. operatives who carried out the techniques would not be prosecuted.

One technique authorized for use by the C.I.A. beginning in August 2002 was the use of “insects placed in a confinement box,” presumably to induce fear on the part of a terror suspect.

The interrogation methods were among the Bush administration’s most closely guarded secrets, and what was released on Thursday afternoon marked the most comprehensive public accounting to date of a program that some senior Obama administration officials have included illegal torture.

One memo showed that a top Justice Department lawyer issued a legal opinion in 2005 saying that C.I.A. officers were allowed to use a combination of interrogation methods to produce a more effective result.

For Full Story

Fed Prosecutors Back Off Push to Put D.C.’s Marion Barry in Jail

It looks like the Teflon City Councilman will skirt jail.
Councilman Marion Barry

Councilman Marion Barry

The legend lives on.

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors today backed off their request that D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) should be sent to jail for violating his  probation on tax offenses.

Instead, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Zeno said, Barry should be confined at his home for 30 days and a judge should extend his probation for two more years.

The change of heart came during a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson, who is weighing a request by prosecutors to revoke Barry’s probation. Robinson did not rule today but said she would issue a written order in the future.

Barry’s attorney, Frederick D. Cooke Jr., said the former mayor should be released from his probation for a 2005 tax conviction. At worst, Cooke said, his probation should be extended another year.

After the hearing, Barry said he was not surprised prosecutors withdrew their request for jail time.

“They can read the tea leaves,” the former mayor said, apparently referring to tough questions that Robinson asked prosecutors during the hearing. Probation officials also stopped short of recommending jail time for Barry. They said the judge should extend Barry’s probation for two more years.

For Full Story