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

Building a Secret Service Agent: It Ain’t Easy

Secret Service photo

Secret Service file photo

Yes, as you might expect, the training is rigorous, the requirements are tough.  Here’s the details.

By Laura Blumenfeld
Washington Post Sunday Magazine

LESSON ONE: Get Ready To Die

The teacher walks into the mat room.

“Good morning, Mr. Mixon,” the students say in unison.

“Cut that [expletive] out. Don’t act like you give a crap about my morning.”

Steve Mixon smiles, or maybe it’s a snarl. Before he became an instructor at the Secret Service training camp outside Washington, Mixon served as a team leader on President George W. Bush’s Counter Assault Team.

“Everyone’s going to leave today in some degree of pain,” Mixon tells the special agent trainees.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Justice Depart. Anti-Trust Chief Meeting Resistance From Obama Officials (New York Times)

HBO Host Bill Maher and Homeland Sec. Napolitano Have Something Just Short of a Love Fest

Janet Napolitano on Bill Maher Show
Janet Napolitano on Bill Maher Show

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

HBO tv host Bill Maher can be downright tough as an interviewer.

But Friday night was just short of a love fest when Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano appeared via satellite on his 11 p.m. show “Real Time With Bill Maher”. She must have the right touch.

After several questions — mostly softballs — Maher ended the the brief interview by saying : “Well again, I thank you so much for being here and I thank what you’re doing for our country.”

One of the tougher points Maher tried to make went like this: “GAO investigators recently smuggled bomb making materials, well, as a test into 10 high-security federal buildings including a Homeland Security Building, the Justice Department, the State Department and they got in everywhere and they said it cost them $150 to buy the materials off the Internet and they assembled them in four minutes.”

Napolitano responded: “What it tells me is what we’re doing to protect some of these federal buildings is not adequate and we’re busy at work now looking at what’s been done in the past and reforming that entire system.”

Maher was downright playful at times, complaining at one point about having to check in luggage because of airport bans on liquids.

“Between arriving two hours early and having to check baggage and having to put the pot in my deo…” He stopped. Laughter erupted in the audience.

“Boy did I say that to the wrong person. Ok, forget that quote,” he said.

Napolitano took it all good naturedly and responded: ” “What we find is Americans overall are understanding of why these restrictions are on.”

If she appears on the show two years from now and still gets the same warm and fuzzy reception, it’s probably because she’s done a darn good job as chief of Homeland Security.

Time — and possibly Bill Maher — will tell.

Ex-U.S. Atty. Christie Could Benefit From News of Latest N.J. Corruption

Public corruption has long plagued New Jersey. Now it’s certain to come up in the governor’s race.

Christopher Christie

Christopher Christie

Claire Heininger, Josh Margo and Josh Margolin
Newark Star-Ledger

A week ago, Gov. Jon Corzine was riding high, beaming onstage as President Obama heartily endorsed his re-election.

Yesterday, a grim-faced Corzine stepped to another podium to address a very different topic: political corruption — a hammer his Republican opponent, Chris Christie, has been using for months.

The allegations leveled against a host of public officials roiled the landscape of an already contentious governor’s race between Corzine and Christie, the former U.S. attorney who built his reputation on sending politicians to jail.

While both candidates shied away from talking about the politics of the arrests, officials in both parties said Christie will benefit from the return of corruption to the headlines in a race dominated by the economy.

Christie already leads Corzine by double digits in several recent polls.

“Christie doesn’t even have to talk about public corruption — public corruption is what people are going to see, hear about and hear more about for the next month at least,” said New York-based Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf, who has worked in New Jersey.

For Full Story

Christie’s Anti-Corruption Ad

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QQO3pQUOA4

Drug Czar Says Feds Are Not Pulling Back on Busting Marijuana Farms

Confusion continues to reign over the nation’s policy on marijuana. California lawmakers want to tax the crop. The feds are against legalization. In Fresno County, Calif., federal and local agents in the past 10 days have seized more than $1 billion in marijuana crops and arrested 82 people.

By Marc Benjamin
The Fresno Bee

The federal government is not going to pull back on its efforts to curtail marijuana farming operations, Gil  marijuana-umledu2Kerlikowske, director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, said Wednesday in Fresno.

The nation’s drug czar, who viewed a foothill marijuana farm on U.S. Forest Service land with state and local officials earlier Wednesday, said the federal government will not support legalizing marijuana.

“Legalization is not in the president’s vocabulary, and it’s not in mine,” he said.

Kerlikowske said he can understand why legislators are talking about taxing marijuana cultivation to help cash-strapped government agencies in California. But the federal government views marijuana as a harmful and addictive drug, he said.

“Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit,” Kerlikowske said in downtown Fresno while discussing Operation SOS — Save Our Sierra — a multiagency effort to eradicate marijuana in eastern Fresno County.

Marijuana plants valued at more than $1.26 billion have been confiscated and 82 people arrested over the past 10 days in Fresno County. The operation started last week and is continuing.

For Full Story

More on The N.J. Corruption: A Made for Hollywood Movie

Well Hollywood, have it. This case has it all —  and then some. I nominate Joe Pesci to play one of the small town mayors.

Hoboken MAyor Cammarano/city photo

Hoboken Mayor Cammarano/city photo

By Ted Sherman and Joe Ryan
The Newark Star-Ledger
NEWARK — The bribes went down in diners, living rooms and parking lots. New Jersey Assemblymen took them, mayors took them, and so did dozens of others.

Orthodox rabbis, acting more like crime bosses than religious leaders, laundered millions through synagogues and yeshivas in Deal, one of the state’s wealthiest towns. And a Realtor tried to sell an informant a black market kidney for $160,000.

Those were some of the allegations federal prosecutors made today (Thurs) in what could prove to be the biggest New Jersey scandal of them all.

The revelations came after hundreds of federal agents swept across the state, arresting public servants and religious leaders as part of a two-year investigation into corruption and international money-laundering that authorities described as unprecedented – even in a state known for its scandals.

It was a sting operation that could have been taken from the pages of an Elmore Leonard novel: the FBI and IRS agents arrested five rabbis, two New Jersey state legislators, three mayors, political operatives, and many others, as part of a probe that spanned from Hoboken to Israel.

For Full Story

U.S. Attorney, FBI hold press conference on corruption arrests

Ex-Fla Judge Pleads Guilty to Fed Charges of Bank Fraud Involving Home he Bought With Stripper

As a judge, one of the words you probably don’t want associated with your legacy is “stripper”, or for that matter “fraud”. Unfortunately, for Fla. Appeals Court Judge Thomas Stringer, those words will forever stick with him.

Judge Thomas Striner Sr.

Judge Thomas Stringer Sr.

By Colleen Jenkins
St. Petersburg Times
TAMPA – Former appeals Judge Thomas E. Stringer Sr. has agreed to plead guilty to a federal bank fraud charge that arose from a Hawaii home he bought with a stripper.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Stringer on Thursday with fraudulently obtaining a $350,000 mortgage for the residence.

Stringer, who resigned from the 2nd District Court of Appeal in February amid questions about his financial dealings, admitted in a plea agreement that he lied on the loan application.

For Full Story

Big Name Criminal Defendants Are Popping Up on Facebook and Twitter

fbook_defenders1

By Rachel Leven
ticklethewire.com

On June 4, indicted ex- New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik did two very public things. He went to court and he tweeted.

“In DC Federal Court today. Indicted for a third time on the same charge. Unprecedented, selective, and overreaching prosecution? You tell me,” the frustrated Kerik tweeted on Twitter.

While Kerik declined comment, his supporters remarks on “Support A True Hero,” a pro-Kerik group on Facebook, show that he was not alone in thinking the prosecution went too far.

“You deserve an apology for any alligations {sic} made towards you,” wrote one member. ” You will always be a hero.”

Back in the day, criminal defendants and their supporters relied solely on the mainstream media to publicly vent and put their spin on a case.

No more. With the advent of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, defendants — but far more often supporters — are spouting off whenever they want, and in some instances, whatever they want, hoping in some way to sway public opinion or provide moral support for the indicted person.

And the mainstream media is listening. Shortly after Kerik posted his concise, but obviously frustrated three-line tweet on June 4, the Associated Press picked up on it.

Facebook groups supporting or criticizing  criminal defendants such as Kerik, baseball star Barry Bonds, ex-Congressman William Jefferson, and convicted felons such as Jack Abramoff and Bernie Madoff, have been spreading like a California forest fire in the dead of summer, often connecting anywhere from about 20 to 6,000 fans.

And in most instances,  you’d be hard pressed not to find at least one  favorable fan page for any high profile criminal defendant on Facebook, a social network which was once the exclusive domain of the young. Now it’s attracting folks of all ages as it becomes increasingly more mainstream, much to the chagrin of some younger folks, particularly those who find their parents asking to “friend them”.

“I feel that Facebook and Twitter are both places where you can express your opinions freely regarding celebrities,” said Clemson University student Alexis Tuten, creator of a Barry Bonds Facebook group. “Facebook was also my first choice as an outlet because a lot of kids my age are on it, and they can express themselves as well.”

People like Jeff Smith seem to be passionate about defending a public figure, which in his  case, is Bernie Kerik,  who faces multiple federal charges including conspiracy and tax fraud, and was once  considered to head the Dept. of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush but withdrew after admitting that he hired an illegal immigrant as a nanny.

“I was at his fundraiser and if everyone could have heard the great stories that people were telling about how much of an impact Bernie has made on [their] lives, you would see why he is a ‘True American Hero’,” Smith said in a posting on a pro-Kerik Facebook group.

When it comes to high-profile criminal defendants, it’s pretty typical to have  multiple pro and con Facebook groups. One example  is Ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who faces trial on host of charges including allegations that he tried to sell Barak Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

On the “Free Rod Blagojevich” Facebook page, which has 395 members, Geoff Wright of Chicago wrote last month: “Hey I know someone thats more crooked and has done worse than Rod, And he’s now the President.Rod is innocent and am looking forward to his talk show on WLS 890 am…think about it…The Rod and Roe show….battle of the egos. I digress….Rod is wrongly accused….and should not spend one minute in jail.”

In contrast, on the Impeach Rod Blagojevich page, which has become less active since his Impeachment, Kevin Wood of Chicago wrote last Dec. 12: “what a disgrace blagoyabitch is and I hope he def. goes to jail.”

Regardless of how many Facebook or Twitter fans a defendants has, it’s not likely to positively impact the outcome of their case, says Steven Levin, a former Maryland federal prosecutor who is now with the firm Levin & Gallagher Law Firm.

“I don’t know any defendant… who has won because he has a following outside of the court room,” Levin said.

But he says, these social networks can hurt defendants in court if they go too far. The government, he said, has full access to those statements and can use them against the defendant.

Lawrence Kobilinsky, professor and chairman of Criminology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, echoes similar sentiments, and warns that defendants should be careful about publishing private or sensitive information.

“It’s better to leave it to the attorneys to do the talking,” he said.

Regardless of those concerns, some supporters consider the technology useful to promote opinions not widely publicized by the media.

“I do not have the money to pay [the media] to run my opinion as advertising [so] I… must either… watch them sling mud on a good man or go to a forum where I can say and publish what I want without others making me pay for it,” said Tsvi Mark, a member of a Facebook group supporting convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Interestingly, even a vilified figure like Bernie Madoff has some supporters on Facebook.  On the  Facebook group “Bernie Madoff is my Hero!”,  George Shao wrote: “Bernie Madoff is such a hero of these phony times. And why the hell are Ponzi Schemes illegal? Such Hypocracy! The entire economy is a Ponzi Scheme, just lots of ppl don’t want to tell the truth about it. Here’s a man who had the guts to give the ppl what they really wanted.”

Still, there are some instances in which there’s a lot of Facebook pages dedicated to a particular criminal defendant, but none positive.

Enter the divisive figure Monica Conyers, the wife of Rep. John Conyers, who recently pleaded guilty in federal court in Detroit to taking bribes while sitting on the Detroit City council.

Some of the Facebook groups dedicated to her include: Save Detroit from Monica Conyers! (5,934 members); Monica Conyers has got to go!!! (431 members); Monica Conyers: A Disgrace to Detroit (47 members).

In “Save Detroit from Monica Conyers,” Brian Poelman wrote, ” I’m so sick of corrupt politicians. Monica epitomizes everything wrong with the politician mentality that has become so common across BOTH parties.”

On the page “Monica Conyers: A Disgrace to Detroit”, Cyn Angel of Detroit wrote in March, before the city council woman was charged and pleaded guilty: “She is a disgrace to the human population!”

Defense Rests Case in ex-Rep. William Jefferson Trial: Closing Arguments Set for Tues.

William J. Jefferson

William J. Jefferson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire

Next Stop: Closing Arguments.

The defense for ex-Rep. William Jefferson rested its case Thursday, opening the door for closing arguments, which are scheduled for Tuesday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

The defense and prosecution will each have  2 1/2 hours to argue before the jury of eight women and four men at the trial in Alexandria, Va., the Picayune reported.

Jefferson, 62,  who did not take the stand on his own behalf, faces 16 counts including bribery.

The case gained national notoriety after FBI agents raided the Congressman’s Capitol Hill condo and found $90,000 in marked FBI bills in his freezer. The FBI probe began in March 2005.