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Archive for August, 2010

Brotherly Love? Ex-Gov. Blago Doesn’t Call Brother Hours After Charges Dropped

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice
Ex-Gov on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Perhaps one of the more interesting asterisks surrounding the decision Thursday by prosecutors to drop charges against Robert Blagojevich was that his brother Rod, the very chatty, seldom-at-a-loss for words ex-governor, had not called to congratulate him hours after the announcement, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“When it comes to my brother, I’ve grown accustomed to being an afterthought. So, it’s not a big deal for me,” Robert Blagojevich told the Sun-Times.

The case was dropped against Robert Blagojevich, who had been indicted on four corruption counts. The jury in the first trial deadlocked on all counts. Prosecutors still plan to retry brother Rod, who was convicted on only 1 of 24 counts.

The paper reported that reporters caught Rod Blagojevich on Thursday as he was leaving to go jogging and asked his reaction to the charges being dropped against his brother.

It “was long overdue,” Rod Blagojevich said, according to the Sun-Times.

“What happened to my brother should have never happened, and I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am for my brother and for his family that this nightmare for them is finally over,” he said.

The paper reported that after talking to reporters, Rod Blagojevich called his brother and left a message.

“I still love my brother,” Robert Blagojevich said, according to the Sun-Times. “I know he still loves me. I wish him well and want nothing but the best for him and his family.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Feds Drop Charges Against Blago’s Brother Robert

ChicagoBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

At least one of the Blago brothers is off the hook.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that federal prosecutors announced Thursday in court that they were dropping the corruption charges against brother Robert Blagojevich. The jury had been deadlocked on all four counts against him and the judge had declared a mistrial, leaving open the possibility of prosecutors going after him in a second trial.

The Sun-Times reported that prosecutors said they made the decision  in the interest of justice and the “disparity in roles’’ between the brothers..

“It’s stunning,’’ Robert Blagojevich said in a phone interview with the Sun-Times minutes after his attorney text messaged him saying that he was a free man.

“The government did the right thing,’’ Robert said, according to the Sun-Times. “They did the right thing.’’

To read more click here.

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For Atty. Gen. Holder: With the Tough Job Comes a Little Glamour

Vogue Magazine
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — It hasn’t been all glamour for Eric Holder Jr. as Attorney General. For one, there’s the less than friendly receptions on Capitol Hill from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee who seem to enjoy grilling him like a burger at a 4th of July gathering.

Then there’s the  second guessing by the public, the political pundits and others on the Hill.

But there are times when the job does have some glamour.   Enter Vogue magazine. The magazine September issue has dedicated two-full pages of photos and then a two page write up on the guy it labels “Man of the Hour.”

Holder tells the magazine that the job is not easy. In fact, he shares, that his teenage son remarked that he doesn’t smile as much as he used to.

“You have a responsibility to keep the American people safe,” he tells the magazine. “It weighs on you. You literally go to bed and think, Have I done what I can?

He’s gotten grief over Gitmo, Miranda Warnings and the 9/11 trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But he tells the magazine he’s unfazed by the negativity.

“It’s the reality of being the attorney general,” he says. “When I am dealing with some congressman who is trying to get me to engage so that he can end up on television, I have to think, What do I want people to think about this department 50 years from now?”

And then he offers an interesting perspective on the law.
“The law is not always right. “It kept my people slaves for years, segregate African-Americans, and kept women from voting, but it’s the place you go. You have to have an inner compass that tells you the right thing to do. That’s what I tell the people who work for me. Trust your instincts. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s where yo need to look.”

As for ambition, the magazine quotes former Justice colleague turned D.C. Judge Robert Richter: “Eric was never a particularly ambitious person. His goal was to make a difference, not end up on top.”

His wife, a physician, isn’t so certain, the magazine writes.

“It’s a question I wonder about. When I roll back the time and ask, ‘Did I think I was marrying a nakedly ambitious man?’ I answer no, but, then again, he was a judge at 38. In his case, I think, it’s there; it’s just not particularly offensive.”

U.S.-Mexico Only Nabbing a Fraction of Drug $$$ Being Smuggled South into Mexico

US Mexican borderBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Despite their efforts, U.S. and Mexican authorities are seizing no more than one percent of the billions of dollars in drug proceeds being smuggled south into Mexico, according to an analysis by the Washington Post.

The cash is being smuggled in spare tires, engine transmissions and truckloads of baby diapers, the Post reported. In other words, any way you can imagine.

In all, the drug traffickers and the Colombian suppliers smuggle $20 billion to $25 billion a year in U.S. bbank notes across the border, the Post reported.

“If we fail to curtail these money flows, the confrontation with organized crime will generate more violence and more corruption,” Carlos Pascual, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, said at a border conference in El Paso this month, according to the Post.

To read more click here.

FBI Agent Arrested on Charges of Threatening to Kill Wife and Head of Dallas FBI

FBI's Robert E. Casey Jr./fbi photo

FBI's Robert E. Casey Jr./fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Suffice to say, FBI agent Carlos Ortiz is in big trouble.

The 48-year-old Dallas agent was arrested Wednesday for allegedly threatening to kill his estranged wife — also an FBI employee  — and Robert E. Casey Jr., the head of the Dallas FBI, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The paper reported that Casey had placed Ortiz on leave pending an investigation into domestic violence and then fired him.

Ortiz, of Red Oak, Tex., a 21-year veteran  was being held at the Dallas County jail, the paper reported. He is scheduled to make a court appearance in federal court on Thursday on charges of threatening to assault or kill a federal law enforcement officer, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The paper reported that Ortiz allegedly told a friend of his plans to kill his wife and Casey. Ortiz filed for divorce and bankruptcy last year, the paper reported.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Hunts for Suspected Wisconsin Bomber 40 Years Later

leo burtBy Allan Lengel
For AOL News

Forty years ago Tuesday, a van loaded with explosives rocked the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, killing one person and wounding three others — all part of a protest against the war in Vietnam. It was also the biggest domestic terrorism attack until the Oklahoma City bombing 25 years later.

Three of four of the anti-war culprits were captured and served time in prison. But 40 years later, the hunt for the fourth suspect — Leo Burt, a student and aspiring journalist at the time — continues.

“We’re still pursuing leads like he’s still alive,” Bruce Carroll, a campus police detective assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, told AOL News. “I’ve expressed my doubts in the past that he’s still alive. It would be very hard to live totally undercover for 40 years. That being said, stranger things have happened.

“But we’ve had a bunch of leads and we still have leads that are active,” he said.

On Monday, the FBI upped the profile of the case, prominently displaying a story on its website that began: “Where is Leo Burt? You can earn up to $150,000 by helping us find him.”

The bombing occurred on Aug. 24, 1970. The country was in turmoil. Richard Nixon was president. The rock ‘n’ roll landscape was flush with giants like the Rolling Stones and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. And campuses like the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor were bubbling with the anti-war, anti-establishment sentiments that were polarizing the nation.

According to published reports, the protesters parked a van loaded with 2,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil outside the East Wing of Sterling Hall, which housed the Army Math Research Center that conducted research for the military. The building also housed the physics department.

The potent bomb went off at 3:42 a.m. The bombers said the explosives were never intended to hurt anyone. But the blast killed physics researcher Robert Fassnacht, a father of three, who was reportedly finishing up some work before heading off on a family vacation. It also wounded three others and caused an estimated $2.1 million in damage to the the university. As an aside, The New York Times reported that Fassnacht’s family said he was against the Vietnam War.

After the bombing, the hunt for the attackers was on. Karleton Armstrong was captured in Toronto in 1972 and sentenced to 23 years, but served only about seven. His brother Dwight Armstrong, who just died this year, was caught in Toronto in 1977 and served three years. And David Fine was captured in California in 1976 and served about three years.

Retired FBI agent Kent Miller, a deputy coroner in Wisconsin, was assigned to the case in the late 1990s. He said he “goes back and forth” as to whether fugitive Burt is still alive.

“I think there’s a good chance he’s still alive,” he told AOL News. “If he’s alive, he’s living quietly somewhere, most likely outside the country.”

Over the years, he said, the bureau followed up on hundreds of tips — including ones that Burt was homeless in Denver and working at a Costa Rican resort.

Forty years later, the incident is still not easy for some to talk about. In 1971, Paul Quin, a physics researcher at the the university who was injured in the blast, told the Wisconsin State Journal: “Sometimes I still think about [the bombing]. It sends a shiver up my spine when I’m working late on Sundays.”

But on Monday, Quin, who is listed as a physics professor emeritus, declined an interview with AOL News.

“I do not discuss this event,” he responded by e-mail.

As time passes, some of the links are vanishing. In June, Dwight Armstrong died at age 58 in Madison, Wis., The New York Times reported. After getting out prison, he served additional time for involvement in a methamphetamine ring. He then drove a cab, the Times reported.

His level of remorse was left in question.

He once told the The Capital Times in Madison: “We did what we had to do; we did what we felt a lot of other people should have done,” he said. “I don’t care what public opinion is; we did what was right.”

A Few Top DEA Officials’ Names Surface for Number 2 Spot

Thomas Harrigan/dea photo

Thomas Harrigan/dea photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A few names have surfaced as potential candidates to fill the number two spot at the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Sources say the names that have popped up  include  Thomas M. Harrigan, chief of operations,  Anthony Placido,chief of intelligence, and John P. Gilbride, head of the N.Y. DEA.

The number two spot  was held by Michele Leonhart, who has been nominated by President Obama for the top spot. She has yet to be confirmed.

John Gilbride

John Gilbride

The number two spot is also a presidential appointment and must be approved by the Senate.

The DEA declined comment on Wednesday.

Anthony Pacido/dea photo

Anthony Placido/dea photo

Harrigan, who joined the DEA in 1987, heads up all domestic and foreign offices as well the Special Operations Division, the Aviation Division, and the Office of Diversion Control. He was appointed to the post in 2008.

Placido, who joined the DEA in 1980, heads up the DEA’s intelligence program.

Gilbride was appointed head of the N.Y. DEA in 2005.  Prior to that, he headed up the Detroit office.

Head of Boston FBI Vows to Try and Catch Whitey Bulger and Solve 1990 Museum Heist

Richard Delauriers/fbi photo

Richard Delauriers/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The latest head of the Boston FBI hopes to accomplish what his predecessors did not: Catch fugitive mobster James “Whitey” Bulger and solve the famous 1990 Gardner Museum art heist.

Richard DesLauriers said he plans to use “laser like focus” to solve the cases that will be among the top local priorities, the Associated Press reported.

DesLauriers, a 23-year veteran, took over the Boston office last month as special agent in charge.

Bulger is wanted in 19 murders and has been on the lam since 1995. Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner museum heist in 1990, valued at more than $500 million, remains a big mystery.