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Archive for May, 2009

Obama Announces First Batch of New U.S. Attys Including N.Y, Ala., N.J.

Paul Fishman for N.J. U.S. Atty.
Paul Fishman for N.J. U.S. Atty.

Well, it’s a start. There’s a lot more to come.

By Farhan Daredia
Main Justice
WASHINGTON — After a slow start, President Obama announced his first batch of U.S. Attorneys nominations on Friday. Notable among them is Joyce Vance for the Northern District of Alabama, who will replace the controversial Alice Martin. Martin has been accused of being part of a GOP cabal that prosecuted Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman for partisan political purposes.

The other nominees were, as expected: Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York’;  Tristram Coffin for Vermont; Jenny Durkan for the Western District of Washington; and John Kacavas for New Hampshire. Read the White House annoucement here.

To Read More

Justice Dept. Legal Assistant Indicted in Maryland on Drug Trafficking Charges

doj-logoBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — A Justice Department legal assistant has been charged in Maryland with cocaine trafficking, according to a federal indictment unsealed Friday.

Wilson Lee Garrett,  35, of Waldorf, Md., faces charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

According to the the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the two count indictment alleges that from mid-2006 to February 2007 Garrett “conspired to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine.”

If convicted on the various charges, he could face up to life in prison.

Garrett made his initial appearance Friday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. He was detained pending a detention hearing Monday.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Texas Inmate Pleads to Threatening Life of Fed Judge

texas-map2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Texas inmate serving life for murder and a host of other crimes can add something to his resume: threatening the life of a federal judge.

Patrick Neil Womack, 34, pleaded guilty Thursday to sending a letter to U.S. District Judge David J. Folsom of Texarkana, Tex. saying he planned to escape from prison and kill him, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Federal authorities say that Womack sent the threatening letter in 2007 from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Clement Unit in Amarillo, Tex. He was indicted on the charge in July 2008.

No sentencing date has been set. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. There is no indication that Womack ever went before Judge Folsom, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Womack’s was convicted in recent years of murdering a fellow inmate and assaulting a prison official.

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Says New U.S. Attorneys to be Named Soon

U.S. Atty. Mary Beth Buchanan

U.S. Atty. Mary Beth Buchanan

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The long awaited replacement of U.S. Attorneys around the country could begin soon. We’ll see how bi-partisan the selections are.

Josh Gerstein of Politico reports that Atty. Gen Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday:
“I expect that we’ll have an announcement in the next couple of weeks with regard to our first batch of U.S attorneys.

“One of the things that we didn’t want to do was to disrupt the continuity of the offices and pull people out of positions where we thought there might be a danger that that might have on the continuity–the effectiveness of the offices.

“But…elections matter–it is our intention to have the U.S. Attorneys that are selected by President Obama in place as quickly as they can.”

So far, for sure, the only Republican appointed U.S. Attorney who is staying on is Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago. That was a no brainer. Jim Letten of New Orleans has a pretty good shot at sticking around.

After that, who knows. U.S. Atty. Mary Beth  Buchanan of  Pittsburgh would like to stay. But that may be pushing the bi-partisan spirit a little too far considering her super-conservative credentials and ties to the Bush administration.

Some lawmakers are getting antsy about the issue.

Gerstein reports that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) at Thursday’s hearing remarked:  “Many jurisdictions are waiting desperately to see what is going to be done. As we understand it, the protocol has been that U.S. Attorneys would hand in their resignations and would give the new administration an opportunity to make new appointments, we don’t see that happening quite fast enough.”

You’ve Got to Be Kidding: Feds Bust FDIC Economist For Bank Robbery

Ok. This simply comes under the category of: What’s Wrong With This Picture? This guy apparently didn’t get the memo that he’s supposed to protect the banks, not rob them.Its a stick up

By The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An economist on leave from the federal agency that insures bank deposits has been charged with the April 11 attempted robbery of a Kansas City-area bank.

Jeff Walser said he had a bomb in his briefcase and demanded money at the Bank of America branch in Independence, but did not take $41,000 brought to him by an employee, according to an indictment filed Tuesday.

Walser, 51, surrendered to police and was being held in federal custody, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Walser told police that he has health problems and was “alone, discouraged and tired of working” and that his plan was to be arrested and not tell police he required thrice-weekly dialysis treatments to survive.

“I wanted to be arrested and I wanted to die,” he is quoted as saying. “But after my arrest, I did not have the will to kill myself.”

To Read the Rest

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Lawmakers Annoyed Over No Masks in Swine Flu Outbreak

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers didn’t mask their annoyance Thursday during a subcommittee hearing with Homeland Security’s undersecretary of management Elaine C. Duke.

“Your excuses are lame when you say you’re following the medical advice,” the subcommittee chairman, Stephen F. Lynch, (D-Mass.) told Duke, according to a report in the Washington Postmask.

The flap was over masks.

Lawmakers criticized the department for failing to authorize protective face masks for employees working the U.S.-Mexico border during the swine flu outbreak, the Post reported.

“Some suggested that the department had placed bureaucratic considerations ahead of the health and safety of its workers,” the Post reported.

Duke said Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano made the decision not to issue masks based on recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government agencies.

Now It’s Getting Interesting: Karl Rove Scheduled to Answer Questions in Criminal Probe into U.S. Atty Firings

Karl Rove

Karl Rove

Karl Rove, who surely had his hand in shaping much of the Bush administration’s business and ideology, can shed some light on the controversial U.S. Atty. firings if he wants to. But that’s the real question: Does he want to? A frequent commentator on Fox News, we’ll see if  he can be  fair and balanced when it comes to answering these questions.

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Former top White House official Karl Rove will be interviewed tomorrow as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the firing of U.S. attorneys during the Bush administration, according to two sources familiar with the appointment.

Rove has remained in the news as a commentator and political analyst since departing the White House. In an essay in today’s Wall Street Journal, he criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), arguing that she may have misled the public about her knowledge of detainee interrogation tactics that critics assert are torture.

As a senior adviser to President George W. Bush, Rove emerged at the center of numerous policy and political debates. He will be questioned tomorrow by Connecticut prosecutor Nora R. Dannehy, who was named last year to examine whether any former senior Justice Department and White House officials lied or obstructed justice in connection with the dismissal of federal prosecutors in 2006.

Robert D. Luskin, a lawyer for Rove, declined comment this afternoon on the imminent interview. So did Tom Carson, a spokesman for Dannehy.

For Full Story

Ex-FBI Agent Mark Rossini Gets Slap on Wrist: One Year Probation in Case Where he Leaked Secret Document to Actress Linda Fiorentino

Mark Rossini (left)/YouTube

Mark Rossini (left)/YouTube

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — In the end — after all the drama —  it came down to a slap on the wrist.

In relatively quick fashion, a federal magistrate judge Thursday morning in Washington sentenced ex-FBI agent Mark Rossini to one year probation and a $5,000 fine for illegally accessing FBI documents and leaking one of them to his lover, actress Linda Fiorentino.

Fiorentino  passed the document on to an attorney for rogue detective Anthony Pelicano, who was eventually convicted of illegally spying on some of Hollywood’s biggest stars and received a 15 -year prison term.

“I am so profoundly and deeply ashamed and remorseful,” said Rossini, 47, as a he stood before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola.

The sentence fell far short of what was already considered by some to be a lenient recommendation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of five years probation and a $10,000 fine.

Rossini left the courtroom without comment along with his brother and his attorney who simply said they were grateful to “have it behind us.”

Rossini, a flamboyant agent who became fodder for the N.Y. tabloids after he started dating actress Linda Fiorentino, had friends in high places in the FBI and had a successful 17-year career.

On Dec. 8 that all came to an end when he pleaded guilty to five counts of criminal computer access for illegally accessing the FBI Automated Case Support System (ACS) more than 40 times for personal use in Washington and New York in 2007.

Read more »