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Archive for July, 2009

Prosecution Witness Tesitifies ex-Rep. Jefferson Told Him He Didn’t Think He was Doing Anything Illegal

Sure Jefferson is trying to say that he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. But he’ll have to find some way to explain to the jurors why, when he spoke to an FBI informant who was wearing a wire, he used a code word for money (“African art”) and sounded as if he was doing something very illegal.

William J. Jefferson

William J. Jefferson

By Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A prosecution witness testified Monday that former Rep. William Jefferson told him in 2002 that as a Harvard-educated lawyer he believes his involvement with international business deals was legal as long as he didn’t legislate on those projects.

George Knost, president of Baton Rouge-based Arkel International, said Jefferson’s comments came in response to a question he asked the congressman about the international projects he heard that Jefferson was involved with, in addition to promoting a Nigerian sugar refinery sponsored by an Arkel subsidiary, Arkel Sugar.

Jefferson’s comments, which Judge T.S. Ellis III allowed to be described to the jury over prosecution objections, seem intended by his attorneys to show he had a clear vision on what activities were legitimate and which were not.

The issue is important. Jefferson’s attorneys argue that the allegations in the government’s 16-count corruption indictment focus on private business deals not covered by the federal bribery statute.

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Ex-Cleveland U.S. Atty. Defends Rogue DEA Agent in Court

The real question here is: Is Ex-U.S. Atty. Greg White being a stand up guy or simply covering up for the mistakes his office made?

Ex-U.S. Atty. Greg White/doj photo

Ex-U.S. Atty. Greg White/doj photo

By John Caniglia
Cleveland Plain Dealer Reporter
CLEVELAND, Ohio — In a rare move, former U.S. Attorney Greg White took the witness stand Monday, July 13, defending the credibility of indicted federal drug agent Lee Lucas.

White, now a U.S. magistrate, said federal prosecutors feared Lucas, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, worked too many cases too quickly and failed to document his work properly. But White stressed that his office never worried about Lucas’ truthfulness, as defense attorneys contend.

“The consensus was that he was trying to do too much, too fast,” White said.

A prosecutor in White’s office, Ronald Bakeman, agreed: “[Lucas] was running at 150 mph.”

The hearing offered a glimpse into how White ran the federal office and handled a controversial agent who snagged major drug dealers while fighting credibility issues.

In May, Lucas was charged in an 18-count indictment involving a 2005 drug probe in Mansfield. The indictment says Lucas oversaw informant Jerrell Bray as he made 15 undercover sales over two months. But 13 of the deals were bogus, leading to trumped-up charges against 17 people. Bray lied and misidentified drug dealers. Lucas, the indictment says, concealed information about Bray from prosecutors and lied at trials.

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Big-Time N.Y. Lawyer Marc Dreier Gets 20 Years For Massive Fraud: Prosecution Asked for 145 Years

Well, Dreier’s attorney thought he should only get 10 to 12.5 years in prison. He got more. Then again, the prosecution wanted him to get a Madoff-like sentence of 145 years. Either way, here’s another guy who lived the good life and is now off to live a very bad life.

gavel22

By The Associated Press
A once-prominent Manhattan attorney was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison for a hatching a massive fraud in a desperate attempt to keep his law firm afloat and bankroll a lavish lifestyle.

Marc Dreier, 59, had pleaded guilty to a $400 million scheme that, though dwarfed by Bernard Madoff’s multibillion dollar swindle, was so outlandish prosecutors labeled him “the Houdini of impersonation and false documents.”

“I’m sorry — deeply sorry — for the harm and sadness I’ve caused to so many people,” Dreier said before hearing the sentence. He was later led out of court in handcuffs.

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FBI Says There’s No Reports of Terrorist Threats Involving All Star Game in St. Louis

Busch Stadium in St. Louis/fbi photo
Busch Stadium in St. Louis/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI, which is helping provide security for the Major League All-Star Game in St. Louis Tuesday, said Monday night that there is no indication of any planned terrorist attacks at the event where President Obama is scheduled to toss out the ceremonial first pitch.

“We have no intelligence that indicates that anything will happen,” John V. Gillies, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the St. Louis office said in a phone interview with ticklethewire.com. “We expect everything to go off without any issues and everyone will have an enjoyable time.”

Gillies said the FBI has “dozens and dozens” of agents, including analysts and bomb techs, who have been working on the security, which is being headed up by the St. Louis Police Department. He said preparations began several months ago.

He said agents are helping perform background checks on people working and volunteering for the game and events leading up to it, and the FBI has brought from Washington a mobile command post or “field office on wheels” to help monitor the mass gathering.

“Analysts are sorting through a ream of intelligence reports and looking for any bit of intelligence to determine any connection to the the All-Star venues,” Gillies said.

“While the police department will have a visible presence, most of what the FBI will be doing will not be seen, but we’ll be out there,” he added.

He said the bureau is also working closely with the U.S. Secret Service, which is responsible for protecting President Obama at the game. Some other agencies involved in the All-Star Game security include ATF,  the Transportation Security Administration and the Postal Inspection Service.

U.S. Secret Service spokesman Malcolm Wiley, declined to comment on specifics,  but said Monday night that his agency has been doing the usual advance work and communicating with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in preparation for the president’s arrival.

Female FBI Agent in Guantanamo Says She Was Ostracized For Not Partaking in “Spring Break” Activities

It’s understandable in such an isolated environment people do things to keep their spirits up. But it sounds like this female FBI agent feels things went too far.

spring-break

By TIM HULL
Courthouse News Service
BOSTON – The first full-time female FBI agent to be stationed at Guantanamo says she was made to bunk with vermin that gave her a tropical disease and was ostracized because she refused to join in a “spring break” atmosphere in which agents were encouraged to drink, date, and frolic when not interrogating alleged terrorists.

She says FBI agents attended parties dressed in “mocking imitation of Arab or Afghan attire” and in orange detainee jumpsuits. And she says she has photos to prove it.

Theresa A. Foley, 43, requested a transfer to Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay in 2003, and says that from the moment she arrived she found a “generally sexist, discriminatory and ‘boys club’ atmosphere” at the island prison.

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Robert Mueller and John Ashcroft Considered Resigning Over Warrantless Wiretaps

The story behind the warrantless wiretaps is not one the prouder moments for the Bush administration, which sometimes saw the laws as more of an inconvenience than anything else.

John Ashcroft/doj photo

John Ashcroft/doj photo

By Noel Brinkerhoff
AllGov

President George W. Bush’s insistence on continuing the warrantless wiretapping program in 2004 almost forced the resignations of some of top law enforcement officials in the administration, according to federal inspectors of the government’s top intelligence agencies.

The report by the inspectors general of the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Agency and other offices reveals that multiple officials in the Department of Justice, including Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller, were seriously considering stepping down because Bush was adamant about maintaining the domestic spying program without approval from the Justice Department.

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DEA Expands Role in Fight Against Taliban in Afghanistan

It’s tricky going after the home grown crop that not only supports the Taliban efforts, but also supports the every day farmers. Not everyone in Afghanistan is cheering over the arrival of more DEA agents.

afghanistan
By Josh Meyer
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON – – The U.S. government is dramatically expanding a long-neglected second front in the war in Afghanistan, dispatching Drug Enforcement Administration agents in an effort to decapitate the Taliban-linked drug trafficking networks that are fueling the insurgency and corrupting the Afghan government, current and former counternarcotics officials say.

The move is seen as a recognition that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won with military force alone. Until near the end of its eight years in office, the Bush administration failed to link the drug traffickers in Afghanistan with the rising insurgency, basing its anti-drug campaign primarily on an effort to destroy the vast fields of poppy that produce more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin.

But that campaign has proved politically unpopular with Afghans and some NATO-led U.S. allies operating in the country. It is considered by the new administration to have been an expensive failure that backfired and drove farmers and influential tribesmen into supporting the insurgency.

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FBI to Probe Murder of Forbes Editor in Russia

Could this be a sign of more things to come involving cooperation between the U.S. and Russia?

forbes-mag-russia1

Mark Franchetti
Sunday Times
MOSCOW — FIVE years after the high-profile murder in Moscow of American magazine editor Paul Klebnikov, Russian authorities have agreed to co-operate with US investigators and grant the FBI access to the investigation.

The unprecedented concession was made in the wake of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Russia last week, a summit that was billed as an opportunity to “reset” strained relations between the two countries.

Ever since Klebnikov, an American of Russian descent who moved to Moscow to launch the local edition of US business magazine, Forbes, was gunned down outside his office in July 2004, his family has lobbied for the FBI to be allowed to offer its expertise to Russian investigators. Despite Washington’s numerous offers for a joint inquiry, the Russians consistently refused to co-operate.

After a five-year investigation, and a botched trial in which two suspects were acquitted, the Russians told Klebnikov’s family last week that they had closed the murder case.

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