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Archive for February, 2010

A New Mob Bus Tour in N.Y. That Will Include Some Oldies But Badies

To the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office, the characters were voices on wiretaps or investigative files or criminal case numbers. To the public, they still represent a slice of fascination.

Father John J. Gotti

Father John J. Gotti

BY Erica Pearson
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

That Starbucks over there? Used to be the scene of one of the city’s most notorious mob hits.

This trendy Nolita shoe shop? It was once John Gotti’s hangout, the Ravenite Social Club, where many a bloody murder was planned.

Starting next month, John (Cha Cha) Ciarcia hopes to bring some of the city’s old gangland history back to life with a new bus tour.

“Everybody loves the mob,” said Ciarcia, a restaurateur, radio host and actor who had a bit part in “The Sopranos.” “We’d like to give them a taste of history in the mob.”

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

DEA Team Leader Shot and Wounded in Afghanistan

afghanistanBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A veteran DEA agent was shot multiple times and wounded in Afghanistan on Sunday while on a mission, according to people familiar with the incident.

The veteran agent, who was a team leader of the DEA FAST Team (Foreign-deployed Advisory and Support Team) was shot and wounded in Marjeh, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, according to people familiar with the situation. For security reasons, his name is not being published at this point.

He was shot in the hand and thigh and has been taken to Germany for medical care. His condition could not be immediately determined.

The DEA on Monday declined comment.

In October, three DEA agents Forrest N. Leamon, Chad L. Michael and Michael E. Weston, were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

Agents Leamon and Michael were members of DEA’s FAST Team. Weston had been assigned to DEA’s Kabul Country Office.

Atty. Gen. Hones Political Ear

Eric Holder is struggling with a typical dilemma in Washington: He’s a nice guy and he’s trying to stay a nice, decent guy while dealing with all the politics. The Obama administration wants to have an independent Justice Department, unlike the one run by Alberto Gonzales. But the administration doesn’t want to put up a nice guy like Holder– at least not on his own —  to do battle  against a pack of hungry political wolves determined to seize on any political weakness.  But we can probably expect him to  speak out more and defend his actions. The New York Times has done a great job profiling Holder.

Atty. Gen. Holder/doj photo

Atty. Gen. Holder/doj photo

By Jodi Kantor and Charlie Savage
New York Times

WASHINGTON — Last winter, when Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. called the United States a “nation of cowards” for avoiding frank conversations on race, President Obama mildly rebuked him in public.

Out of view, Mr. Obama’s aides did far more. Rahm Emanuel and Jim Messina, the White House chief and deputy chief of staff, proposed installing a minder alongside Mr. Holder to prevent further gaffes — someone with better “political antennae,” as one administration official put it.

When he heard of the proposal at a White House meeting, Mr. Holder fumed; soon after, he confronted his deputy, David W. Ogden, who knew of the plan but had not alerted his boss, according to several officials. Mr. Holder fought off the proposal, signaling that his job was about the law, not political messaging.

A year later, he is no longer so certain. His most important plan — to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, in federal court in Manhattan — collapsed before it even began, after support from the public and local officials withered.

Now Mr. Holder has switched from resisting what he had considered encroachment by White House political officials to seeking their guidance. Two weeks ago, he met with advisers there to discuss how to unite against common foes.

For Full story click here.

ATF-Postal Had Investigated Ala. Biology Prof in 1993 Mail Bombing to Harvard Med Prof

Prof. Amy Bishop/university photo
Prof. Amy Bishop/university photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s hard to think of a biology teacher as a dangerous person. Boring? Long winded? Possibly. But dangerous?

Well, not only did biology professor Amy Bishop allegedly kill three colleagues and wound three more in a shooting rampage at the University of Alabama in Huntsville on Friday, but now the Boston Globe reports she was a subject of an ATF-Postal probe in an attempted bombing of a Harvard Medical School prof in 1993.

The paper reports that Bishop and her husband “were questioned after a package containing two pipe bombs was sent to the Newton home of Dr. Paul Rosenberg, a Harvard Medical School professor and physician at Children’s Hospital Boston. At the time, Bishop was working as a postdoctoral fellow in the hospital’s human biochemistry lab.”

The paper reported that Bishop’s husband, James E. Anderson, “acknowledged that he and his wife were questioned by authorities about the 1993 mail bomb case, but said neither of them was a suspect. Rather, they were “subjects’’ of the attempted bombing investigation, he said.”

The husband told the New York Times that he had a letter from the ATF saying that they had been cleared in the matter.

To read more click here.

Ex-FBI Agent Says Shooting Detroit Imam 20 Times Was Justified

Greg Stejskal

Greg Stejskal

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Retired FBI agent Greg Stejskal, a columnist for ticklethewire.com, tells the Detroit News that he thinks agents acted appropriately when they fatally shot an imam 20 times during an October raid in Dearborn, Mi, after the imam shot and killed an FBI dog.

“Once you’ve made the decision to use deadly force, you fire until the threat is eliminated,” Stejskal told the News. He said he studied the medical examiner’s report and media reports and spoke to FBI agents.

Stejskal spent more than 20 years on the Detroit FBI’s SWAT and now teaches at the police academy at Washtenaw Community College.

Agents shot and killed Detroit imam in the warehouse raid that was part of a probe into stolen goods.

The News reported that Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Michigan, “said he wants to wait and review the investigative reports of the shooting and have an independent pathologist review the medical examiner’s report.”

“The reality is that none of us were at the scene,” he told the News. “We really don’t know what happened.”

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Christmas Day Bomber Read Rights 9 Hours — Not 50 Minutes– After His Arrest, Administration Says

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marhsals photo

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marhsals photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The political bickering and posturing over the questioning of the Christmas Day bomber continued in true Washington fashion Sunday.

Ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, who some may view as being on a campaign to prop up or save his legacy, went on ABC and said the administration should have considered everything up to waterboarding when questioning the infamous Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Then Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) went on Fox and criticized the administration for reading the bomber his Miranda rights “within 50 minutes”.

Then on Sunday, according to the Washington Post, “senior administration officials” released information saying that the bomber was read his Miranda rights 9 hours — not 50 minutes — after his arrest.

After 50 minutes of questioning, the story goes, medical personnel said his condition had deteriorated to the point questioning was no longer possible.

Then nine hours later, the Post reports:”New FBI agents meet with Abdulmutallab in his hospital room. He says he will not answer their questions and “acted like a jihadi. He is read his Miranda rights.”

To Read Full Story click here.

Ex-FBI Agent and Justice Official Allan Kornblum Who Helped Create Surveillance Act

justice logo2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Allan Kornblum, 71, a Florida federal magistrate, an ex-FBI agent who worked on civil rights cases in the 1960s, and a Justice Department official credited with writing key passages of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act  (FISA), died last week of cancer in Gainesville, Fla., the Washington Post reported.

Kornblum, a former New York City cop, worked for the FBI in the 1960s and joined the U.S. Justice Department in 1975 to “write the FBI’s guidelines for domestic security and counterintelligence work,” wrote Post reporter Patricia Sullivan.

“He was appointed three years later by then-Attorney General Griffin Bell to handle all FBI and National Security Agency wiretap applications as deputy counsel for the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review,” the Post wrote.

In May 2003, he became a U.S. magistrate judge in Florida and “worked until a week before his death,” the Post reported.

To read more click here.

Column: The Rich Irony of the Fall of a Louisiana State Sen. and His Ties to Bill Jefferson

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Sometimes public corruption — particularly in Louisiana  — has a way of making you snicker — at least for a moment.

The sentencing in U.S. District Court in New Orleans of ex-State Sen. Derrick Shepherd on Thursday to 37 months in prison for money laundering made me think of the rich irony of his downfall and his ties to disgraced ex-Congressman William Jefferson.

Back in October 2006, as a reporter for the Washington Post, I attended a candidate debate at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel in the French Quarter in New Orleans  for the 2nd Congressional District where Rep. William Jefferson was making a bid for a 9th term.

At the time, Jefferson was under FBI investigation, but had yet to be indicted.

During the debate, which was attended by citizens and local and national media, the challengers kept taking shots at Jefferson, making references to his FBI investigation, implying his problems made it impossible for him to effectively represent the electorate in the fragile post-Katrina era.

Ex-Sen. Shepherd/senate photo

Ex-Sen. Shepherd/senate photo

One of those challengers happened to be Sen. Shepherd.

At one point, Jefferson could take  no more. He started attacking the integrity of the challengers and when he got to Shepherd, he strongly hinted of an ethical breach, saying:  “I will not say what we have to talk about there. But if pushed I will.”

Jefferson went on to beat Shepherd in the primary and eventually won re-election. (Jefferson lost a bid for a 10th term.)

And two years later, in 2008,  Shepherd pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering after helping previously convicted bond broker Gwendolyn Moyo launder $141,000 from the sale of bogus bonds, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.  Shepherd kept nearly half the money.

Interestingly, the indictment said Jefferson had steered Shepherd to Moyo after he lost in the 2006 primary to Jefferson. (Jefferson was not charged in that case).

And just as interesting, after Shepherd lost in the 2006 primary, he decided to endorse Jefferson in the main election, the guy he had previously declared was crooked and couldn’t be effective as a Congressman while under FBI investigation.

Interesting how all that works.

As we know, Jefferson was eventually indicted and convicted last Fall of  multiple public corruption counts stemming from many crooked business dealings over the years. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison. He is free pending his appeal.

Hopefully, Jefferson and Shepherd will get the opportunity to spend some quality time together behind bars.

I’m sure they’ll  be able to appreciate the rich irony of it all.