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Archive for August, 2010

FBI Backlog of DNA Cases Mounting

DNA code analysisBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI has a backlog of 3,211 forensic DNA cases, which would take two years to eliminate if there was no new staff or new cases, according to a report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

“The forensic DNA case backlog at the FBI Laboratory can have significant effects,” the report said. “Backlogs may delay legal proceedings that are waiting on the results of DNA analysis.

Read more »

Louisiana Drug Trafficker Used Dog and Cockfights to Recruit for His Drug Ring

louisiana-mapBy Matt Castello
ticklethewire.com

For a big-time Louisiana drug trafficker, the dog and cockfighting ring served as the ideal venue to help expand his drug ring.

Pedro Mendez Ramos, of Church Point, La., who authorities described as “an avid pit bull and cock fighter”, used more than 300 gamecocks and 60 pit bulls as a recruiting tool for the drug organization he headed up.

Late last week, Ramos, 41, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Lake Charles, La., to 12.5 years in prison.

Authorities said the organization transported and distributed cocaine and marijuana from the Brownsville, Tex. area to the Church Point, La. area and then to Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and other parts of Louisiana.

Members of the Gulf Cartel, a Matamoros, Mexico based drug organization, directly supplied drugs to Ramos’ crew, authorities said.

An investigation nicknamed “Operation Fowl Play” and “Rio Gallo” netted indictments of 18 men (including Ramos) on a variety of drug trafficking, money laundering and firearms charges.

The DEA, working together with local and state law enforcement, seized approximately 111 kilograms of cocaine from the drug organization along with $1.8 million in cash and about $1 million in property in Louisiana and Texas, authorities said.

The DEA said it’s not unusual for there to be a connection between dog fighting and other illicit activities including drug sales.

“I don’t want to say it goes hand in hand, but its safe to say there’s an overlap” between dog fighting and other forms of crime, Special Agent Roberto Bryan, a DEA spokesman in New Orleans told ticklethewire.com.

ATF Busts Texas Cop for Selling Guns From Evidence Room

texasBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A 55-year-old Texas cop had a nice little thing going — that is until he got busted by ATF and the Texas Rangers.

Authorities charged that Harry Leroy Kelly, as a cop with the Cleveland Police Department in Liberty County, Tex., sold guns and ammunition from the evidence room. He is currently a captain with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities alleged that Kelly had control over the evidence room and was responsible for destroying items.  As part of his scheme, Kelly drafted papers showing he destroyed firearms, when in fact he had not.

He faces 103 counts of possession of a stolen firearm, two counts of possession of a firearm without a serial number, one count of possession of stolen ammunition and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Texas said.

“Sometime in 2007, Harry Kelly began taking firearms from the evidence room and traded or bartered them to his friend, who in turn gave Harry Kelly credits for the merchandise that Kelly brought, which Kelly used to buy his own firearms for his own firearm business,” U.S. Attorney John M. Bales said, according to TV station KPRC.

Blago Jury Enters 9th Day of Deliberations

Rod Blagojevich/facebook photo

Rod Blagojevich/facebook photo

UPDATE: Tues, 10:55 p.m. — Jurors begin the 10th day of deliberations.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Let the nail biting continue.

Jurors in the public corruption trial of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich begin deliberating Monday for the ninth day in U.S. District Court in downtown Chicago.

Good chance a verdict will come by week’s end — or least the public will get a good indication where the jury stands.

Jurors have had to sift through a weighty 24-count indictment which includes allegations that the ex-governor tried to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Obama. Blago’s brother Robert faces four counts.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-U.S. Atty. James K. Robinson Was “One of the Finest Lawyers of His Generation”

James K. Robinson

James K. Robinson

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Every young lawyer remembers the guy who gave him his first real job. For me and some others, it was a mark of distinction that that guy was Jim Robinson.

His death last Friday from cancer evokes a painful loss but also many happy memories about a man who was one of the finest lawyers of his generation.

Although Jim’s long and successful career as a litigator, public servant, author and teacher included many of the highest achievements available in the legal profession, it was for many of us his term as a 34-year-old U.S. Attorney in Detroit which we remember most fondly.

During his three-year term from 1977 to 1980, he set a framework for the modern federal prosecutor’s office and inspired dozens of young lawyers along the way.

Jim re-organized and modernized the U.S. Attorney’s Office in ways that are still followed today in this and other districts around the country.

He convinced the Justice Department to let him hire several dozen new lawyers and support staff, and he filled the positions with a diverse group, including women, African Americans and former defense counsel, three groups which had been greatly under-represented.

He re-structured the office into Divisions and Units, re-formulated a press policy, established a pre-trial diversion program, and emphasized the need for continuing legal education.

He started a Federal-State Law Enforcement Committee, which still meets regularly thirty years later, to discuss common strategies and crime problems.

He re-defined the office’s prosecution policy and shifted from a volume approach to a selective policy of investing more resources in more culpable and insulated targets.

Jim also put more emphasis on civil enforcement, especially natural resources, tort defense, civil rights and combating fraud in federal programs. It was a sea change for the better.

Jim emphasized integrity at every functioning level. I remember a short interchange at one of those “Monday lunch” sessions he initiated, and it has stuck these thirty years.

Some of the Assistants were complaining about an instruction some of the district judges were then giving to trial jurors that they need not be concerned in reaching their verdict about whether the government wins or loses the case since the government always wins as long as justice is done.

Jim settled the matter, “Hey that is what we do, or try our best to do, what is right in every decision in every case, whatever our personal preferences. It’s not a contest and winning isn’t the objective.”

As a boss, Jim was a master of the personal touch not only because it was good management, but more because that was the kind of person he was. When a trial or appeal went well, you could expect him to stick his head in your door with some thumbs-up words of encouragement or to leave an “attaboy” note on your desk. I still have a couple of them.

When a forgivable error was made, Jim considered it a lesson learned, and I heard him quote more than once the words of W. Somerset Maugham, “Only a mediocre person is always at his best.”

I have found it useful after my kids’ sporting events. A loss after a hard fought effort by a disconsolate Assistant sometimes brought out Jim’s quotation of John Kennedy and Teddy Roosevelt about the credit belonging to the person in the arena, marred by dust and sweat and blood, who if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly not sitting with those cold and timid souls on the sidelines.

Boredom and cynicism had no place when Jim was around. Instead there was laughter, hard work and long hours. Work was meant to be fun, but no one ever said it was meant to be easy.

Above all there was an unspoken sense of job satisfaction, patriotism, and fulfillment in public service. Important principles, people’s lives and freedoms, and crucial decisions were on the daily agenda. But that didn’t prevent a practical joke on a colleague, and Jim was sometimes a facilitator.

After his tour as U.S. Attorney, Jim went on as a nationally known litigator and a sought after lecturer for advocacy programs.

He supervised the Justice Department’s Criminal Division under President Clinton in 1998. He was a law school Dean and professor, President of the Michigan Bar, drafter of the Michigan Rules of Evidence and prolific author of books and articles. The list of his positive contributions to the rule of law in Michigan and the country goes on and on.

But it is not this towering man of national achievement and recognition I remember most fondly.

It was a teacher who spent a couple hours explaining and working through some knotty hearsay exceptions with a panicking young prosecutor the night before a trial was to begin.

It was a charismatic young U. S. Attorney who managed with his sleeves rolled up, walking around implementing new plans and ideas, spreading confidence and energy to all of his colleagues.

Ex-Fed Prosecutor Remembers James K. Robinson as “One of the Finest Lawyers of His Generation”

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Every young lawyer remembers the guy who gave him his first real job. For me and some others, it was a mark of distinction that that guy was Jim Robinson.

His death last Friday from cancer evokes a painful loss but also many happy memories about a man who was one of the finest lawyers of his generation.

Although Jim’s long and successful career as a litigator, public servant, author and teacher included many of the highest achievements available in the legal profession, it was for many of us his term as a 34-year-old U.S. Attorney in Detroit which we remember most fondly.

James K. Robinson

James K. Robinson

During his three-year term from 1977 to 1980, he set a framework for the modern federal prosecutor’s office and inspired dozens of young lawyers along the way.

Jim re-organized and modernized the U.S. Attorney’s Office in ways that are still followed today in this and other districts around the country.

He convinced the Justice Department to let him hire several dozen new lawyers and support staff, and he filled the positions with a diverse group, including women, African Americans and former defense counsel, three groups which had been greatly under-represented.

Read more »

Former Detroit U.S. Atty and Justice Dept. Official James K. Robinson Dead at Age 66

James K. Robinson

James K. Robinson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

James K. Robinson, who became the Detroit U.S. Attorney in the late 1970s at age 34, and later became a high-ranking Justice Department official, died Friday at age 66, the Grand Rapids Press reported.

The Grand Rapids native died at his vacation home in Park City, Utah, the Grand Rapids Press reported. He had suffered from gastrointestinal cancer.

Up until the time of his death, he was a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in Washington, the paper reported.

Robinson was dean and a professor at Wayne State University School of Law from  1993 to 1998, the paper reported. He went on to serve as an assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division during the Clinton administration and later returned to private practice.

To read more click here.

Acting Head of N.Y. FBI Enjoyed the Wild Ride

Acting Head Venizelos at gang arrests in Newburgh, N.Y./fbi photo

Acting Head Venizelos at gang arrests in Newburgh, N.Y./fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

His title may be “acting,” but there’s no pretending that things haven’t been outright wild, abuzz, atwitter, downright explosive since George Venizelos took over in March on a temporary basis as head of the New York FBI office, the largest in the country.

There was the high-anxiety Times Square car bombing case. The Russian spy case. Key indictments of mobsters. And the roundup of 78 gang members from the Latin Kings and Bloods. And that’s just to name a few. In fact, since March, his agents have had a hand in the indictment of about 330 people.

“It all happened at once. It was definitely the experience of my life. It happened so fast,” he told AOL News. “Acting can be a thankless job, but acting in New York is still a tremendous responsibility.”

Monday, Venizelos loses the “acting” title and returns to his old role as special agent in charge of administration for the New York FBI Office. The permanent boss is arriving: Janice Fedarcyk, a friend of his who’s been running the Philadelphia FBI Office.

“For me personally it was exciting,” Venizelos, 50, said. “It seemed like every week something was happening. This was just kind of the perfect storm.”

To read more click here.

WEEKEND STORIES OF INTEREST

2 Cops Shot and Man Killed in Harlem Gunfight (NY Daily News)