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October 2009


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for October, 2009

41 Years Later, FBI Arrests Pan Am Hijacker in NY

pan-am-logoBy Allan Lengel

Better late than never.

The FBI in New York arrested Louis Armando Pena Soltren, 66, who was wanted for the 1968 hijacking of Pan Am Flight 281 bound from New York to Puerto Rico, the New York Times reports. Soltren arranged to surrender so he could visit his famiy, including his wife.

He was arrested Sunday at Kennedy airport at 1:30 p.m. after arriving from Cuba, the Times reported. To read more, click here.

Justice Dept. to Review Mandatory Waivers of DNA Testing for Some Fed Convicts

This is an interesting issue. The bottom line is: No one should have to waive their right to DNA testing if there’s any remote possibility that it will prove their innocence. It’s called the justice system. Why should we take something away that can provide justice? If we can prove something beyond a reasonable doubt, why not go for it?

DNA code analysis

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has ordered a review of a little-known Bush administration policy requiring some defendants to waive their right to DNA testing even though that right is guaranteed in a landmark federal law, officials said.

The practice of using DNA waivers began several years ago as a response to the Innocence Protection Act of 2004, which allowed federal inmates to seek post-conviction DNA tests to prove their innocence. More than 240 wrongly convicted people have been exonerated by such tests, including 17 on death row.

The waivers are filed only in guilty pleas and bar defendants from ever requesting DNA testing, even if new evidence emerges. Prosecutors who use them, including some of the nation’s most prominent U.S. attorneys, say people who have admitted guilt should not be able to file frivolous petitions for testing. They say the wave of DNA exonerations has little impact in federal court because all those found to be innocent were state prisoners, and the waivers apply only to federal charges. DNA evidence is used far more frequently in state courts.

For Full Story


FBI Releases Soundless Video of Tsunami Striking Its Parking Lot in American Samoa

Note: It takes some patience to watch this. The action doesn’t come until the last few seconds of this 2:08 minute tape.


Weekend Series on History: The Life and Disappearance of James Riddle Hoffa


A Ventriloquist, A Dummy, The White House, Secret Service and Explosives

*not the actually dummy
*not the actual dummy/photo

By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON –  Jerry Smolinsky may be no dummy, but he was pretty close to one on Friday.

The 55-year-old ventriloquist was riding in a cab Friday morning in Arlington, Va., with his dummy in tow,  when he told the driver he had explosives and was on his way to the White House, according to a law enforcement source.

The cab driver called his dispatcher who phoned authorities, the law enforcement source said. D.C. police stopped the cab at 17th and C Streets NW, not far from the White House.

U.S. Secret Service agents interviewed Smolinsky, who confessed that he had no explosives and that he just wanted to get a rise out of law enforcement, the source said.

He was arrested and charged with a felony threat. He was expected to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. No word on the whereabouts of his dummy as of Friday night.

Smolinsky, a former computer programmer, who is originally from California, has been living out of hotels around the country, the source said.

FBI’s Stu McArthur Leaves the Mothership to Head Springfield, Ill. Office

Stu McArthur
Stu McArthur

By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON — Stu McArthur, an Inspector in the FBI Inspection Division at headquarters, is leaving the mothership to head up the Springfield, Ill. office as special agent in charge.

He replaces Karen Spangenberg, who was recently named deputy assistant director of the Criminal Investigative Division.

McArthur started his FBI career in 1990 and was first assigned to the New York office where he worked on a drug enforcement task force with the N.Y. police department investigating Colombian drug cartels.

Read more »

Prosecutor in Madoff Probe Removes Himself Over Conflict of Interest

It doesn’t take much to bump into a conflict of interest in the federal justice system.  Prosecutor Richard Zabel and his office did the smart thing by declaring the conflict of interest. End of story. Or at least it should be.

Bernie Madoff

Bernie Madoff


Just days after being appointed, the new chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, Richard Zabel, has taken himself off the biggest case his office is handling, the investigation of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, because his father represents one of the potential targets.

“He has recused himself from any involvement in the Madoff case,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, Rebekah Carmichael, told Friday. Zabel’s appointment was announced Tuesday. The spokeswoman declined to provide any details about who would oversee and supervise the Madoff investigation.

For Full Story

FBI Top 10 Fugitive Caught in Mexico

Jorge Alberto Lopez Orozco/fbi photo
Jorge Alberto Lopez Orozco/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON — A triple-murder suspect who has been on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List since 2005 along with such notables as Osama bin laden, has been captured in Mexico, the Associated Press reports.

Mexican federal police caught Jorge Alberto Lopez Orozco in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, the AP reported, attributing Thursday’s announcement to the Mexican Attorney General’s Office. He was being held on an American extradition request.

Lopez Orozco, 33, is charged in the  2002 murders of Rebecca Ramirez, who he had been dating on and off, and her sons, ages 2 and 4, in Elmore County, Idaho, according to the FBI and AP. The three had been shot and their charred remains were found in a burned out car.