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Archive for June, 2009

Say it Ain’t So: People Who Pose National Security Risk Retain Aviation License

Jet

It never ceases to amaze how many things still slip through the cracks in the post-9/11 era. Things like this obviously shouldn’t slip through the cracks. As Ricky Ricardo would say, the government has some “splainin to do”.

By MATTHEW L. WALD
New York Times
WASHINGTON — At least six men suspected or convicted of crimes that threaten national security retained their federal aviation licenses, despite antiterrorism laws written after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that required license revocation. Among them was a Libyan sentenced to 27 years in prison by a Scottish court for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie.

In response to questions from The New York Times, the Transportation Security Administration, which is supposed to root out such individuals, announced that the Federal Aviation Administration suspended the licenses on Thursday.

The two agencies appeared to be unaware that the men were among the nearly one million people licensed as pilots, mechanics and flight dispatchers. They were identified by a tiny family-owned company in Mineola, N.Y., demonstrating software it developed to scrub lists of bank customers for terrorism links.

The list also includes an Iranian-American convicted of trying to send jet fighter parts to Iran and a Lebanese citizen living near Detroit who was convicted of trying to provide military equipment to Hezbollah.

For Full Story

Convicted Texas Fed Judge Samuel Kent Loses Chutzpah; Resigns Instead of Facing Impeachment

Judge Samuel Kent

Judge Samuel Kent

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of Texas has lost his chutzpah.

The judge, who is serving a 33-month sentence in a Massachusetts federal prison for obstruction of justice for lying about sexually
harassing some female employees, had initially handed in his resignation, effective June 2010.

The sly move would have allowed him to collect his $174,000 a year salary while in prison for a year. That didn’t sit well with lawmakers who moved forward with impeachment proceedings to undermine  Kent’s plan to scam tax payers.

The Houston Chronicle said the resignation was announced at the first meeting of the Senate’s impeachment trial committee Thursday in Washington.

The Chronicle said on Wednesday Kent gave a one-sentence resignation letter, effective June 30, 2009, to Senate officials who showed up at the Devens Federal Medical Center in Massachusetts to see the imprisoned judge.

That should effectively put a stop to him getting paid in prison.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Feds Says it Could Take Several Years to Locate, Liquidate and Distribute Madoff’s Assets

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s likely to take several years before the government and the trustee
Bernie Madoff

Bernie Madoff

locate, liquidate and distribute swindler Bernie Madoff’s assets, according to a U.S. Attorney motion filed  Friday morning.

“Given the size and scope of the defendant’s fraud, the efforts of the Government and the SIPA (Security Investment Protection Act) Trustee to recover assets, liquidate them if necessary, and distribute them to victims, are expected to continue for several years,” according to U.S. Attorney motion filed Friday morning.

The motion, filed by assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa A. Baroni and Marc Litt, asked that the judge go forward with the June 29 sentencing and requested 90 more days to “determine whether restitution by Court-ordered schedule is practicable, and if so, the contents of such schedule.”

“While the government and SIPA Trustee have sought to identify as many victims as possible as well as precise loss, we will not have identified each victim of the Madoff fraud or ascertained the precise losses of each identified victim as” of the June 29 sentencing date, the govenrment wrote.

Read Government’s Motion on Assets

Senate Committee Gives Joyce Vance Thumbs Up for Ala. U.S. Atty. Post

It’s a start, but the administration has a long way to go in filling all the U.S. Attorney spots. Unfortunately, there have been so many distractions since President Obama took office.alabama

MARY ORNDORFF
Birmingham News Washington correspondent
WASHINGTON – Joyce Vance had solid bipartisan support to become the top federal prosecutor in the northern district of Alabama as her nomination sailed through a Senate committee Thursday. The action sets the stage for her to become one of the first new U.S. attorneys to take office under President Barack Obama.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Vance and two nominees from Vermont and New York without debate. The full U.S. Senate could make it final next week.

For Full Story

House Panel Spars With Ex-N.J. U.S. Atty. Chris Christie Who Awarded Lucrative Contract to ex-Boss Ashcroft

The lucrative contract Christie approved has raised plenty eyebrows and some voices on Capitol Hill. No matter who’s right, one thing is for certain: Christie doesn’t need this type of publicity while he runs for New Jersey governor. And  oh yes, Democrats would prefer this doesn’t go away.

Christopher Christie

Christopher Christie

By KIMBERLY HEFLING
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A former U.S. attorney and New Jersey’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Thursday defended an arrangement in which one-time Attorney General John Ashcroft’s consulting firm made millions of dollars monitoring a controversial deferred prosecution agreement.

In a sometimes tense exchange with congressional Democrats, Chris Christie told the House Judiciary Committee that the choice of Ashcroft was acceptable to the company, Zimmer Holdings Inc. But the testimony from Christie, who once worked for Ashcroft, was at odds with e-mails that surfaced before the hearing that showed the company was unhappy with the fees it had to pay Ashcroft’s firms.

In one e-mail, Christie said he was “disappointed” by the firm’s complaints about the fees to Ashcroft’s firm and said “we can’t afford to be distracted.”

Ashcroft’s consulting firm stood to make $28 million to $52 million or more for 18 months of work monitoring a hip and knee replacement manufacturer accused of giving kickbacks to doctors.

For Full Story

Christie testifies about the selection of Ashcroft

Brooklyn Dentist Gets 17 Months For Aiding Hezbollah Via Television Broadcasts

Many Arab Americans continue to see groups like Hezbollah and Hamas as freedom fighters. But the U.S. State Department continues to list them as terrorist organizations. The result has been that some supporters in the U.S. have gone off to prison. Here’s the latest case.

New Jersey Star Ledger Staff

The Hezbollah Flag

The Hezbollah Flag

A Brooklyn dentist who lives in New Jersey was sentenced to 17 months in prison yesterday for aiding the terrorist group Hezbollah by broadcasting its Lebanese television station to satellite users in the metropolitan area.

Saleh Elahwal, 56, of Matawan had admitted in December that he and another man accepted some $112,000 from Hezbollah’s television station, al Manar, to provide its satellite broadcasts through a company they operated, Brooklyn-based HDTV Limited, from September 2005 through August 2006.

He was sentenced yesterday to 17 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman for providing material support to Hezbollah, which the U.S. government regards as a terrorist organization.

For Full Story

Rogue Atlanta Cop Busted by FBI Gets 18 Months in Prison

By Rachel Leven
ticklethewire.com
A rogue Atlanta police narcotics officer is headed off to prison, the result of an FBI probe into police misconduct that arose from the fatal atlanta-policeshooting of a 92-year-old woman in a 2006 botched drug raid.

Sgt. Wilbert “Pete” Stalling was sentenced late last week to 18 months in prison and 80 hours community service for breaking into a private residence without a search warrant, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta. His sentence for a civil rights violation came after he spent 11 months cooperating in an FBI probe into police misconduct.

“For those who still don’t get it, today’s sentence should send a message that police officers are sworn not just to enforce the law but, like all citizens, to obey it,” U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias of Atlanta said in a prepared statement.

Authorities say that Stalling, who is in his mid-40s, and the narcotics crew he supervised, was involved in a pattern of illegal activity, which came to light after the FBI began investigating the 2006 shooting of the 92-year-old Atlanta woman.

According to media accounts and the U.S. Attorney’s office,  some officers Stalling worked with got a bad tip about cocaine being stored in the home of Kathryn Johnston,92. Using a “no-knock” warrant, they tried breaking into the home. Johnston, using an old revolver, fired a shot through the door and officers returned fire with 39 shots, killing her.

Stalling was not involved in that botched raid. But one of his crew members Gregg Junnier, who supervised the raid, got 6-year prison term for his role and agreed to cooperate with the FBI probe into police misconduct.

Read more »

DEA Going After Taliban and Drugs and Cash