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Archive for January 8th, 2010

Ex-Los Angeles Healthcare Worker Pleads to Illegally Reading Confidential Medical Files of Celebrities

medical filesBy Allan Lengel
ticklethwire.com

Huping Zhou learned the hard way that peeking into confidential medical files can be hazardous to your well being.

The former UCLA Healthcare System employee in Los Angeles pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to four counts of illegally reading private and confidential medical records “mostly from celebrities and other high-profile patients”, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Zhou, 48, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to violating the federal privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by looking at the files for no valid reason. Authorities did not disclose the names of any celebrities.

Authorities said Zhou was a licensed cardiothoracic surgeon in China and worked for the UCLA Healthcare System as a researcher with the UCLA School of Medicine.

Read more »

Underwear Bomber Arraigned in Detroit

It’s hard to imagine that this guy has much of a case. It’s just a matter of time before he works out a plea deal.

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marhsals photo
Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marhsals photo

By DAVID ASHENFELTER, BEN SCHMITT and JOE SWICKARD
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS

DETROIT — Standing before a federal judge, shackled at the ankles and speaking in barely audible tones, Nigerian terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab faced a judge in his alleged attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

Abdulmutallab told the judge that he understood the charges levied against him by a grand jury in a six-count indictment.

After a series of questions from Magistrate Judge Mark Randon, Abdulmutallab’s lawyers informed the court that their client would stand mute — meaning he did not plead guilty or not guilty, but a plea of not-guilty was entered on his behalf by the court.

Abdulmutallab, 23, stood in court in khaki pants and an oversize white t-shirt flanked by his lawyer, Federal Defender Miriam Siefer, during the 3-minute arraignment.

For Full Story

Whatever Happened to the Friendly Skies?

Happy business people laughing against white background
By Allan lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — It used to be that conversations on airplanes went something like this: “Excuse me flight attendant, can I have another diet Coke?”

Or:”Excuse me, where are you headed today?” or “Any idea what time we’re suppposed to land?”

Lately, the conversations have gone something like this: “Hey, isn’t that man’s underwear on fire.”

Or, as a man on a Northwest flight from Miami to Detroit screamed out this week: “I want to kill all the Jews”.

Whatever happened to the friendly skies?

Two Ex-Blackwater Guards Charged with Murder 1 Week After Judge Dismissed Charges Against 5 Others

blackwaterlogo2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A week after a judge dismissed murder-related charges against 5 Blackwater guards who worked in Iraq, the Justice Department came back with murder charges against two former Blackwater guards who were detailed to Afghanistan.

The U.S. Attorney in Alexandria filed second-degree murder and attempted murder charges on Thursday against Justin Cannon, 27, of Corpus Christi, Tex. and Christopher Drotleff, 29, of Virginia Beach, Va. in connection with shootings that resulted in the death of two people and the wounding of a third.

Authorities say the two men were contractors for the U.S. Department of Defense in Afghanistan and employed by Paravant LLC, a subsidiary of Xe, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide. The two were charged under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA).

The 13-count indictment alleges that on May 5, 2009, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Cannon and Drotleff shot and killed two Afghanistan nationals and wounded a third.

The FBI arrested Cannon Thursday in Corpus Christi and Drotleff in Virginia Beach.

Last week, a D.C. judge dismissed charges against 5  Blackwater guards in connection with the deaths of  14 unarmed Iraqi civilians. The judge ruled that the Justice Department overstepped its bounds by using statements the men made to the State Department even though the men were told the statements could not be used against them in court.

OTHER STORIES Of STORIES

Top Terrorist Analyst Stayed on the Slopes After Christmas Day Bombing Incident (NY Daily News)


Shreveport’s First African American U.S. Atty. Donald Washington Stepping Down

Donald Washington/gov photo

Donald Washington/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Donald W. Washington, the first African American to serve as U.S. Attorney in Shreveport, La.,  is stepping down,  effective Jan. 18.

“It has been a high honor and great privilege to serve as United States Attorney, and to work alongside so many talented and dedicated professionals in service to our country and the cause of justice,” Washington said in a statement.

He was appointed by President Bush in 2001, just six days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Read Press Release

Man in D.C. Arrested for Posing as Secret Service Agent

Secret-Service-BadgeBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — With all the heat the agency has taken lately, some might not want to pretend to be a Secret Service agent.

Apparently all that didn’t matter to  Frederick J. Nickerson.

The Washington Post reports that  Nickerson  posed as a Secret Service agent and “slipped past security Saturday at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington and was not stopped until he got to the sixth-floor suite of offices for Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, authorities said.”

The paper reports that he left the building after being confronted by employees and was arrested Tuesday for impersonating a Secret Service agent. The Post said he was being detained pending a detention hearing next week.

New Orleans FBI Agent Tapped for Police Chief of Small Community

Mandeville_LABy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A veteran FBI agent in New Orleans has been tapped as the new police chief for the city of Mandeville, a suburb of New Orleans, the New Orleans Times-Picayune is reporting.

Percy “Rick” Richard III, who has served a special agent in New Orleans since 1991, supervises 15 agents and five surveillance specialists, the Times-Picayune reported.

He had served on a task force in Afghanistan and is a former state trooper, the paper said. He is a resident of Mandeville, a city of about 12,000 people.

Interim Mayor Edward “Bubby” Lyons announced Richard’s selection at a 2 p.m. news conference at City Hall.

The Mandeville Police Department has been without a chief since former Chief Tom Buell stepped down a year ago. Since then, Capt. Ron Ruple has served as the ranking officer in the agency. Ruple initially applied for the chief’s position but said he withdrew his name last week after the city’s Civil Service Board declined to offer strong enough protections for a chief that was dismissed.

FBI Arrests 2 More Men in New York in Bomb Plot

new york city3 cabsBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI arrested two men in New York on Friday in connection with the ongoing probe into the bomb plot targeting the Big Apple that allegedly involved the Colorado airport driver, the Associated Press reported.

Richard Kolko, an FBI spokesman in New York, told the Associated press that the arrests of Adis Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay were part of “an ongoing investigation” by the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Authorities did not release details behind the arrests and said the men were scheduled to appear in court on Friday.