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Archive for March, 2010

Tea Party Activists Gone Wild? FBI is Investigating Va. Case

Rep. Tom Perriello

Rep. Tom Perriello

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Could this be a case of  the  Tea Party gone wild?

Politico reports that the FBI is looking into a propane gas line that was cut at the home of a Congressman’s brother’s home in Charlottesville, Va.

The Congressman, Tom Perriello (D-Va.) voted in favor of the health care bill.

Politico reported that a Tea Party activist had posted on a blog what he thought was the Congressman’s address and encouraged folks to “drop by.”

“This is very preliminary at this point, so we’re not making any comment at this time,” local FBI spokesman M.A. Myers told POLITICO.

Ex-Dep. Atty General David Ogden Said Dropping Ted Stevens Case Was “Painful”

Who will replace ex-deputy David Ogden?

Who will replace ex-deputy David Ogden?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Ex-Deputy Attorney Gen. David Ogden, who returned to private practice after a brief stint in the Obama Justice Department, said Tuesday that the government’s decision to drop the Sen. Ted Stevens case in 2009 after he’d been convicted was “painful”, according to the website The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.

Speaking at American University Washington College of Law, he said the department had “abandoned a case it believed in on the merits” and it hurt morale.

But he defended the decision, the website wrote.

“I believe it was the right thing to do based on the circumstances of that case,” he said. Ogden said the action showed that the Justice Department will respect the rights of defendants at all costs.

ex-Sen. Ted Stevens/official photo

ex-Sen. Ted Stevens/official photo

Stevens was convicted in October 2008 of failing to report roughly $250,000 in gifts.  The Justice Department found that the prosecution had withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense during trial and moved to dismiss the case. An FBI agent in the case also raised allegations of government misconduct.

Secret Service Probes Presidential Death Threats on Twitter Tied to Healthcare Debate

white house photo
white house photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Secret Service is looking into two death threats against President Obama that surfaced on Twitter regarding the historic health care vote in the House, according to the Daily Telegraph of Australia.

“We are aware of the comments and are taking the appropriate investigative action,” the U.S. Secret Service said, according to the Daily Telegraph. “We respect the right of free speech, but in such instances we have a right and an obligation to ask questions and determine intent.”

The paper reported that as the House debated the bill, someone tweeted on Twitter: `America, we survived the assassinations and Lincoln & Kennedy. We’ll surely get over a bullet to Barrack Obama’s head.”

“The next American with a Clear Shot should drop Obama

like a bad habit . . . Turn on Barack Obama.”

A second Twitter user wrote, according to the paper:“You should be assassinated!! @Barack Obama.If I lived in DC. I’d shoot him myself.”

Feds Coming Down on Online Gambling

The popularity of online gambling has certainly caught the eyes of the feds considering it’s illegal in the U.S. Investigative reporter Van Smith takes a look at what the feds are doing about it.

istock photo/ticklethewire.com

istock photo/ticklethewire.com

By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper

BALTIMORE — On Dec. 21, 2006, someone in Maryland opened an account with bodog.com, an online gaming site whose customers bet on sports and horse-racing and play poker and casino games on their computers.

The same day, that same someone placed two online bets on football games with Bodog. Over the course of 2007, after more wagering, the online gambler requested and received two payout checks from Bodog: one for $1,500 and another for $700.

Mundane as they may seem, the Maryland gambler’s wagers and payouts have had major repercussions in the online-gambling world. That’s because, starting in 2008, the details of that person’s online betting activities were included in meticulous affidavits supporting warrants to seize the contents of bank accounts said to be tied to illegal gambling.

The Maryland gambler was actually a special agent working undercover for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation Division.

Under U.S. law, facilitating transactions tied to online gambling is illegal. Yet, due to the immense popularity among Americans of wagering over the internet, the overseas companies that provide this kind of entertainment continue to seek ways to do business with U.S. customers.

To read more click here.

Automaker Daimler to Pay $185 Mil in Fines for Bribing Foreign Officials in at Least 22 Countries

Mercedes_logo
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — German carmaker Daimler has apparently been up to no good.

The New York Times, attributing information to “a person familiar with the case”, reports that Daimler will pay $185 million in fines and and two of its subsidiaries “will plead guilty to bribing foreign government officials, to settle a multiyear corruption investigation.”

The Justice Department, in documents released Tuesday, accused Daimler of bribing foreign officials “in at least 22 countries, including Russia and China, between 1998 and 2008,” the Times reported.

The New York Times reported that the government alleged that the company ”made hundreds of improper payments worth tens of millions of dollars to foreign officials” in return for assistance ”in securing contracts with government customers for the purchase of Daimler vehicles worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Consequently, the company pocketed at least $50 million in profits from the schemes, the Times reported.

For Full story click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-Slugger Jose Conseco Tweets About Fed Grand Jury Subpoena

Jose Conseco/abc news

Jose Conseco/abc news

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

What better way to announce that you’re going before a grand jury than to tweet it to the world.

Ex-baseball slugger Jose Conseco did just that on Tuesday when he announced on Twitter that he had been subpoenaed by a grand jury looking into whether baseball star Roger Clemens lied to Congress about taking illegal performance-enhancing drugs, the Associated Press reported.

The AP wrote that Conseco posted on Twitter that he had received a grand jury subpoena “about roger clemens,andrew pettite and others” on April 8.

“Its like the godfather,” Canseco wrote on Twitter, according to the AP, “when I thought I was out they drag me back in. And now it begins again.”

U.S. Atty’s Office Wants NBA Star Gilbert Arenas to Do Time

Gilbert Arenas

Gilbert Arenas

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Suspended Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas may get to practice his basketball skills with a bunch of inmates if the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office has its way.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a sentencing memorandum Tuesday recommending that Arenas get 3 months in jail and 300 hours of community service, saying he has “shown little genuine remorse” and that he “feigns ignorance of the law” in his case in which he brought four guns to the Verizon Center locker room  in the Chinatown district in Northwest Washington. Sentencing is set for Friday in D.C. Superior Court, the city’s criminal court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh wrote in the memo that Arenas tried to cover up his confrontation with the guns and teammate Javaris Crittenton and made up different stories about why he had brought guns to work.

In very pointed language, Kavanaugh  wrote:

“If any other individual — without the fame, power, and the wealth of this defendant — brought four firearms into Washington D.C. for the purpose of a similar confrontation, fabricated a story to conceal that confrontation, provided convenient explanations in an attempt to mitigate his conduct that were proved false, joked about the incident to large groups, and stated that he did nothing wrong and felt no remorse, the government would seek their incarceration, and the Court would almost certainly give it. The defendant, although famous, powerful, and wealthy, should be treated no differently.”

Read the sentencing memorandum

Baltimore Cop on DEA Task Force Charged in Scheme to Get Informant Money; Also Charged With Pocketing Some Himself

baltimoreBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A Baltimore police detective on a DEA Task Force was charged Tuesday with fraudulently arranging for an informant to get more than $10,000 in payoffs he didn’t deserve,  the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.  The cop is also charged with pocketing some of that money.

Detective Mark J. Lunsford, 29, of Sykesville, Md, was charged in one instance of lying in 2008 by saying that  the informant provided him a phone number of a drug suspect when in fact another informant had provided it. Ultimately, investigators got a wiretap for that number.

Following the wiretap investigation, authorities charged that Lunsford exaggerated the help his informant provided in the case so that the informant could get a $10,000 award.  Authorities also charged that Lunsford, with the okay of the informant, kept some of the award money himself.

In another instance, in 2009,  Lunsford falsely claimed that the informant provided information which led to the arrest of another suspect and the seizure of the suspect’s $17,490.  Lunsford allegedly submitted a false claim to DEA for the source to receive an award equal to 20 percent of the cash seizure, or $3,498.

He is also charged with stealing a rose-colored, stainless steel “Aqua Master” diamond watch worth more than $1,000 from a an investigation.