Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

July 2009
S M T W T F S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Archive for July, 2009

Justice Dept. Probing Comments Made By Pitts. U.S. Atty. Buchanan

Pittsburgh U.S. Atty. Mary Beth Buchanan wants badly to stay on as U.S. Attorney. Not only is that NOT likely to happen, but she could make a less than graceful exit with this latest development.

Conservative Holdover- Pittsburgh U.S. Atty. Mary Beth Buchanan
Bush Holdover- Pittsburgh U.S. Atty. Mary Beth Buchanan

RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI
The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH – The Department of Justice has launched an inquiry into comments made by Pittsburgh’s U.S. attorney when she announced she was dropping charges against a renowned pathologist, ending a contentious years-long legal battle.

Mary Beth Buchanan said at the time that she still believed pathologist Cyril Wecht had committed a crime. He had been accused of using his public office , Allegheny County medical examiner , to benefit his multimillion dollar private practice.

Dick Thornburgh , a former U.S. attorney general who was part of the pathologist’s defense team , lodged a complaint with the department after the June 2 news conference, saying U.S. attorney Mary Beth Buchanan’s comments were “completely improper, violate all notions of prosecutorial ethics and decency, and warrant remedial action by the Department of Justice.”

In a letter dated July 8, the department informed Thornburgh it had “initiated an inquiry into your allegations.” The department said it would inform him of the outcome of the inquiry.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

The Waterfront Wiseguy: North Jersey Capo on Trial

Retired FBI Man Says Hollywood Short Changed History With John Dillinger Film

Rex Tomb served in the FBI from 1968 until his retirement in 2006. For most of his career he served in the Office of Public Affairs, retiring as Chief of its Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit.

public-enemies

By Rex Tomb
For ticklethewire.com

It’s 1970. President Nixon was in the White House, the Viet Nam War was raging, J. Edgar Hoover was running the FBI and I was working for him as a tour guide.

Back then, guided tours of the FBI were a pretty hot item. Yearly, over a half a million people showed up for them. They were conducted in the Department of Justice Building, in Washington, by young male (women weren’t allowed to give them in 1970) clerical employees, carefully attired in a dark suit, a white shirt and a tie.

The lucky ones who were actually able to get a tour (there were always very long lines) saw the FBI Laboratory, a firearms demonstration and a wide variety of exhibits depicting, among other things, the Rosenberg atomic bomb case, the Rudolph Abel spy case, the Wilcoxson/Nussbaum bank robbery case (they mounted an anti tank gun in the rear of a car to use on pursuing police and on bank vaults) and an exhibit showing the famous gangsters of the 1930’s. The “gangster exhibit,” as we called it, was clearly one of the most popular exhibits on display.

Several notorious gangsters were depicted including John Dillinger who was by far the best known of all of them.

Though it has been over 35 years, I can still remember parts of my spiel. “The John Dillinger Gang robbed banks throughout the Midwest. They killed 10 people, wounded 7 and escaped jail 3 times. Dillinger was ultimately betrayed by Anna Sage (the infamous lady in red) and was shot at five times, outside the Biograph Theater, by 3 different Agents. Three of the 5 bullets fired hit Dillinger killing him.”

In a glass-covered display case to the right of John Dillinger’s photograph were a series of Dillinger mementos including the hat he was wearing at the time he was killed (the brim on one side was crushed where he had fallen), the cigar he was carrying that night in his shirt pocket, the eye glasses he used to disguise himself, (wire framed and badly mangled) and the piece de resistance: the Dillinger death mask (he looked peaceful).

You could almost always count on two questions from visitors: was a certain part of Dillinger’s anatomy at the Smithsonian Institution? No, and were we certain that it was really Dillinger who was shot outside of the Biograph? Yes. He was identified by his fingerprints.

For many years, public interest in the gangsters of the 1920’s thru the 1940’s has continued and Hollywood, understandably, has cashed in.

Remember “Bonnie and Clyde,” “The Untouchables” and “Bugsy?” These were big budget films with all-star casts that did well. I noticed the phenomena in the 1970’s and it has persisted to this day. Rightly or wrongly, there is a perceived elegance associated with the era that seems to extend to criminals, too.

I actually think there is something to it. Compare any street photograph taken in the1930’s to one taken now. No tattoos, no muffin top, midriffs showing; no booty shorts. Take this one step further. Compare Gershwin to say, Eminem. Note too, that the “F” word does not appear one time in any of Cole Porter’s many compositions.

While the standard of living was lower back then, the social crassness, so prevalent today, seems to have been lower, too. Probably this is a misperception but a sense that modern culture is in decline might be giving the movie-going public both a curiosity and a hunger for all things past.

“Public Enemies” skillfully captures the cultural essence of that era. The music, the clothes, the street scenes: all have been carefully crafted to evoke the way we were, or at least the way we think we were. No detail seems to have been missed. The cars, the clothes, the furnishings, the music, the movie has all of this stuff down cold.

In my opinion, the film also shows how law enforcement: federal, state and local, lacked the training, the resources and the equipment to combat the evolving, fast moving and highly mobile criminal element of that era.

It is interesting to note that it wasn’t until the passage of the May-June crime bill in 1934, that Bureau Agents could even carry firearms let alone arrest someone. Standardized training for law enforcement officers? Forget about it.

Where the film left me cold, however, was not in the 1930’s ambiance it so effectively recreated. Rather, it was how several obvious fictional details in it were presented as fact.

I was startled, for instance, to see how a female witness was treated in an interrogation scene. A Bureau Agent was portrayed shamefully beating information out of her, while numerous colleagues passively looked on. The violent methods shown in this scene would never have been tolerated by the Bureau either then or now.

Why then put it in? Literary license? If so, how would viewers of this film, unfamiliar with the facts be able to discern that this did not happen?

There was a scene in which J. Edgar Hoover was accused, in so many words, during a Senate appearance, of being an armchair detective. Mr. Hoover was indeed so criticized (unfairly in my opinion) by a member of the Senate, but not until several years after John Dillinger had died. What indeed, did this episode have to do with the story if not to subtly raise questions about Director Hoover?

In another scene, and contrary to every historical record that I have ever read, the film portrays Dillinger as having been gunned down by what can only be described as an inexperienced, rogue Agent.

Records actually show that after emerging from the theater, Dillinger sensed his impending arrest and reached for his gun. Given Dillinger’s propensity for violence, Bureau Agents understandably (and thankfully) used all available force to stop him. Who knows how many other passersby would have been killed had they done otherwise?

But the scene as depicted in the movie almost made it appear that Dillinger was the victim. How would the average viewer know this?

Hollywood has a special responsibility when portraying actual events to keep their portrayals as accurate as possible.

A major release will be seen in theaters across the United States and around the world. It will be on television, appear on DVD and will be mentioned in newspapers, magazines, on the web and sometimes in books. Movies are translated into countless foreign languages, too and those watching are being more than entertained: they are being subtly educated as well.

Let’s face it, if a production gets it wrong so do potentially hundreds of millions of people, here and abroad, now and in the future.

Israelis in Tel Aviv Capture Suspected KKK Member Wanted By U.S. Marshals

Maybe he fled there for the kosher food.israeli-map2

By Jeffrey Heller
Reuters
JERUSALEM — When Micky Mayon fled the United States, where he faced firearms charges, the alleged member of an anti-Semitic white supremacist group chose what he might have seen as a perfect hideout — the Jewish state.

Mayon, 32, of Steelton, Pa., was arrested in Tel Aviv on Monday by an Israeli law enforcement unit that searches for illegal migrants. He had been on the run for two years.

Alleged white supremacist Micky Mayon, here in an undated photo, was a fugitive in the United States. He was detained in Israel on Monday.
“He was here because he thought this was the last place they would look for him,” said Sabine Haddad, a spokeswoman for Israel’s Interior Ministry which oversees the unit.
Mayon fled the United States after he was suspected of burning the car of a judge who had ordered he stand trial on the firearms charges, Haddad said, basing her information on details provided by Interpol.


For Full Story

12 Mexican Fed Agents Found Tortured and Dead

These brazen acts are reminders that things are still out of control in Mexico, and that’s not good for the U.S. either.

mexico-map2

By GUSTAVO RUIZ
The Associated Press
MORELIA, Mexico – Twelve people tortured, slain and dumped along a mountain road in a drug-plagued Mexican state were off-duty federal agents, an official said Tuesday. It is one of boldest attacks on federal forces since President Felipe Calderon launched his national war on drugs.

Mexico’s national security spokesman Monte Alejandro Rubido said the 11 men and one woman were investigating crime in President Felipe Calderon’s home state of Michoacan, which has been a center of his crackdown on organized crime.

They were ambushed by members of the La Familia drug cartel, Rubido said. Their bodies were found piled up along a mountain highway late Monday near the town of La Huacana.

For Full Story

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Gets Blasted From Both Sides

Mild-mannered Eric Holder is finding that’s it’s not only tough to please all of Washington,  it’s tough to please either side of the isle — Democrat-Republican, liberal-conservative. Lately, the left has been blasting him for trying to smooth over the past events involving the Bush administration. All in a days work in Washington.

Eric Holdler/msnbc

Eric Holdler/msnbc

By Carrie Johnson and Krissah Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — July cannot be counted as the warmest of months for Eric H. Holder Jr. The attorney general clashed with Congress over national security policy, fielded complaints from federal judges upset with bungled evidence and, in the most painful indignity, cracked his tooth.

Then came a bombshell three days ago that has sent Washington political circles reeling: Holder’s inclination to appoint a prosecutor to examine whether interrogators tortured terrorism suspects during the Bush years. The disclosure has exposed him to new scrutiny even among colleagues in the Obama administration, where views about unearthing divisive episodes from the past are hardly uniform.

All of that took a back seat yesterday when Holder, 58, arrived in his home town of New York for a rousing speech to the NAACP, where he had served as an intern decades ago. Seated between civil rights icon Julian Bond and the group’s president, Benjamin Todd Jealous, at a luncheon during the organization’s centennial convention, Holder was lauded by the crowd as a symbol of pride and progress in his ascent to becoming the nation’s first black attorney general.

For Full Story

Ex-NFL Player Reed Diehl Pleads Guilty in Calif. in Ponzi Scheme

tennessee-titans

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former NFL player Reed Kyle Diehl is in big trouble for clipping — yes clipping investors in a $5 million Ponzi scheme.

The 30-year-old former offensive lineman for the Tennessee Titans  pleaded guilty Monday in Santa Ana, Calif., to fraud charges in connection to a Ponzi in which he “collected funds with promises of high rates of returns on investment loans”, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Diehl posed as a banker who made short-term cash loans to businesses or individuals.

“Instead of using investor funds to make loans, he used investors’ money to repay earlier investors and to fund his lifestyle,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release. U.S. District Judge David O. Carter will sentence him Sept. 28.

Authorities say Diehl was originally arrested in March 2008 and released on bond. In January, his bond was revoked after he got involved in a real estate transaction involving a $3.5 million home using a false name and social security number, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Boston Mobster Says His Girlfriend Was Murdered Because She Knew of the Mob’s Ties to FBI

The Rifleman/dateline nbc photo
The Rifleman testifying in Miami in murder trial of FBI agent John Connolly  /dateline nbc

The Soprano-like testimony in court continues to expose the shady side of the FBI in Boston during a very dark era. The testimony is part of a civil trial involving families suing the government for failing to stop mobsters/FBI informants from killing relatives. Dateline NBC had a great segment on the Boston mob and the FBI last Friday.  Click here to see a sampling of the show.

By Jonathan Saltzman
The Boston Globe
BOSTON — The gangster Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi insisted yesterday that he helped arrange the murder of his girlfriend because she knew about the corrupt relationship he and his longtime partner, James “Whitey” Bulger, had with a rogue FBI agent, not because she had met another man.

Under cross-examination by a Justice Department lawyer in Flemmi’s third and final day on the witness stand in US District Court in Boston, the convicted mobster discounted a suggestion that he set up the Sept. 17, 1981, murder of Debra Davis, 26, because she had recently fallen in love with a businessman during a trip to Mexico.

“She could have left anytime she wanted,” he testified in response to a question from Lawrence Eiser, the Justice Department lawyer.

“Why did you kill her?” Eiser asked.

“I explained to you, Bulger killed her,” Flemmi said, in the bristling tone he has often exhibited on the stand. “He was concerned. She was aware of my relationship with [FBI agent John] Connolly.”

For Full Story