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June 2009


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for June, 2009

Feds Offer Detroit Councilwoman Monica Conyers — Rep. John Conyer’s Wife — A Plea in Corruption Probe

Monica Conyers/council photo

The FBI has been probing public corruption in Detroit for quite a while now. This latest involving Councilwoman Monica Conyers (in photo)  is only the tip of the iceberg.

Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — Federal prosecutors have offered Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers a plea deal as part of their wide-ranging investigation of City Hall corruption, but she has not accepted it, the Free Press learned today.

The development comes a day after the U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed that two key figures in a sludge-disposal deal admitted paying Conyers thousands of dollars in bribes to secure her support for a $1.2-billion city contract with Synagro Technologies. Conyers, who initially opposed the 2007 deal, switched her position as the council voted 5-4 to let Synagro dispose of wastewater sludge.

A source familiar with the inquiry said federal investigators also are talking to Conyers about investments by Detroit’s public pension funds. Conyers is a former trustee for the city’s general retirement fund.

For Full Story

Fed Prosecutor Portrays Ex-Congressman Jefferson As Shakedown Artist

Prosecutor Mark Lytle in Opening Statement/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News

Prosecutor Mark Lytle in Opening Statement/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News

By Rachel Leven and Allan Lengel

— A federal prosecutor  in opening statements Tuesday morning portrayed ex-Rep.  William J. Jefferson as a shakedown artist desperate for money to cover his messy finances that included  $40,000 in bank overdraft fees and penalties and a $62,000 credit card debt.

“It is a startling and often disheartening account of public corruption at the highest levels of our government,” said assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Lytle.

But Jefferson’s attorney Robert Trout responded during opening remarks  saying that the government tried unsuccessfully to set up Jefferson in a sting and  the ex-Congressman “did not take a  bribe…did not solicit a bribe…is not guilty of any of these charges.”

“You will hear no agreement…in exchange for anything of value,” Trout said.

The salvos came at the start of trial before a packed courtroom. The trial is expected to last four to six weeks.

Prosecutor Lytle laid out the government’s case that alleges that Jefferson was involved in at least 11 corrupt schemes involving U.S. and African companies. He said in some circles the influential congressman was known as the “gateway to Africa.”

Lytle said in exchange for using his Congressional influence, Jefferson and  his family received about $385,000 in bribe payments and they stood to ultimately get hundreds of millions of dollars. Jefferson faces 16 public corruption counts and has maintained his innocence.

Trout said the government tried to get Jefferson in a sting by having wealthy Virginia  businesswoman Lori Mody wear a wire. Mody had invested in iGate, a Kentucky based high-tech firm and went to the FBI complaining that the company’s owner Vernon Jackson and Jefferson were ripping her off.

Read more »

Mexico’s Narco Al Capone Remains on the Lam

Joaquin Guzman Loera has become a narco folk hero in Mexico. He has also helped contribute to the growing violence in Mexico. Will he ever get caught or remain a free man like Bin Laden?

The Wall Street Journal
Joaquin Guzman

Joaquin Guzman

BADIRAGUATO, Mexico — As a child, Joaquín Guzmán Loera was so poor that he sold oranges to scrape together money for a meal. Since then, the 52-year-old has built a business empire and a personal fortune currently tied for number 701 on Forbes magazine’s list of global titans.

He also has another ranking: Mexico’s most wanted man.

Mr. Guzmán is the informal CEO of one of the world’s biggest drug-trafficking organizations, the so-called Sinaloa cartel, named for its home state of Sinaloa.

It smuggles a big part of the marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines that end up on American streets, and it has links to organized crime in 23 countries, according to Mexican and U.S. officials.

Bernie Madoff Victims Left Depressed, Bitter, Hopeless

Sympathy is one thing Bernie Madoff won’t see in the courtroom as he appears later this month for sentencing. The Poster Child for Greed, Madoff won’t likely see daylight in the outside world for a long long time. Many are urging the judge to give him the maximum 150 year sentence.

Bernie Madoff

Bernie Madoff

The Associated Press
More than 100 victims of failed financier Bernard Madoff’s multibillion-dollar fraud urged a judge Monday to sentence him harshly, saying he ruined their lives, leaving many of them depressed, bitter and hopeless.

“Please don’t let his brilliant criminal mind loose to do it again,” Steve Norton pleaded in a letter to the judge after describing how he lost $1.1 million in retirement money.

“He took the rest of our lives. Don’t give him his back.” Kathleen Bignell of Gunnison, Colo., said she told her 89-year-old father he cannot die because she no longer has money to bury him. She said Madoff “ought to be able to look forward to just exactly what he has done to us. No hope, no future and no forgiveness.”

In 113 statements, victims from across the country repeatedly referred to the 71-year-old Madoff as a “monster” who, as one victim put it, has “no soul, no remorse, no conscience.” Carl Kornblum wrote that he is 70 years old and his wife is 66, both forced by the Madoff fraud to sell their home and go back to work.

“Can you believe as teenagers and school chums and young marrieds we were once friends with Bernie and Ruth Madoff????” he wrote. “I really can’t believe Bernie could be such a sociopathic low-life!!! Thank you for all you can do to see that justice is served on this scoundrel.”

For Full Story


R.I. U.S. Attorney Robert Clark Corrente Stepping Down

Robert Clark Corrente
Robert Clark Corrente

By Allan Lengel

U.S. Attorney Robert Clark Corrente of Rhode Island, whose office landed some high profile convictions of state lawmakers during his tenure, is resigning, effective June 26.

According to a press release issued by his office Monday, Corrente will join a private law firm on July 1. He was appointed U.S. Attorney by President Bush in 2004.

“It has been a great privilege to have served the country, the Department of Justice, and especially the people of Rhode Island,” he wrote in a resignation letter to President Obama and Atty. Gen. Eric Holder.

During his tenure, his office convicted state lawmakers John Celona and Gerard Martineau. The office also convicted Roger Williams Medical Center CEO Robert Urciuoli and executives from the former Lincoln Park slot parlor, according to the press release.

The state’s U.S. Senators have recommended that assistant U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha replace Corrente.

Arthur Balizan to Head FBI’s Portland, Or. Division

portland-mapBy Allan Lengel

Arthur Balizan, an inspector in the FBI’s Inspection Division, has been named special agent in charge of the Portland, Or., Division.

Balizan replaces David Ian Miller, who will retire at the end of the month, the FBI said.

Balizan started his career in the FBI in the early 1980s in the San Francisco Division and went on to the San Juan office in 1983 to work on “terrorism matters”, the FBI said.

He bounced around to the Albuquerque Division and then became a supervisory special agent assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia as the assistant project director for the U.S. Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Training and Assistance Program, the FBI said.

He later took on other duties in Colombia. After returning to the states, taking on various jobs, he became assistant special agent in charge of the Sacramento office.

In 2006, he served as one of eight inspectors at FBI headquarters.

Before coming to the FBI, he worked as a police officer in northern California, the FBI said. He has three adult children.

Bureau of Prisons Blocks 60 Minutes Interview With Mobster John Gotti Jr.

John Gotti Jr./

John Gotti Jr./

CBS’s 60 Minutes knows Mobsters make good tv whether they’re real people or fictional characters like Tony Soprano.  In this case, it was worth a shot.

By Gangland News

John Gotti died in prison seven years ago yesterday. His son Junior, who has been behind bars for 10 months now, no longer has any clout with the Gambino crime family. But the mob prince is still a big ticket item when it comes to 60 Minutes, the godfather of television news shows.

Recently, 60 Minutes, which has interviewed numerous jailed mobsters in its 40-plus years, and which aired a talk with rogue cop Stephen Caracappa before his trial, reached out to the former Junior Don. Lo and behold, sources say, he agreed to an on-camera, one-on-one interview.

The first Sunday after Labor Day was the perfect time – for both 60 Minutes and Junior – to take viewers inside the Metropolitan Detention Center to see and hear Gotti talk about his plight, his relationship with his father, and with the entire Gotti family, including his sister Victoria, the author and onetime reality TV star.

That Sunday is the traditional start of the fall season for the award-winning news magazine. And Junior’s fourth federal racketeering trial in four years begins the following day, September 14.

For Full Story

Monday’s UPDATE

Holocaust Museum Shooter Still Not in Good Enough Condition to Be Arraigned (Washington Post)

Ex-Fed Prosecutor Paul Fishman Returning to the Fold in New Jersey as U.S. Attorney

Paul Fishman, an ex-federal prosecutors has unquestionably been a formidable opponent for the government as a defense attorney. Now the government is bring him back on its side. Couldn’t hurt.

By Joe Ryan
Newark Star-Ledger
Paul Fishman for N.J. U.S. Atty.

Paul Fishman

NEWARK — In 2001, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark held a press conference trumpeting the arrests of three Chinese immigrants, saying their company stole software from Lucent Technologies in a major instance of high-stakes corporate espionage.

Yet after prosecutors spent four years working the case, it ended with a whimper. Charges were dropped against two of the men, including one represented by Paul J. Fishman, an ex-federal prosecutor with a reputation as one of New Jersey’s most erudite and aggressive attorneys.

“Paul was certainly a very, very important part of that defense team,” said Robert Fettweis, an attorney who worked alongside Fishman on the Lucent case. “He is a very smart lawyer.”

After 12 years as a white-collar criminal defense lawyer, Fishman is poised to become a prosecutor again. President Obama nominated him June 4 to become U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, and the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on his confirmation within weeks.

For Full Story