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Archive for August, 2010

Column: No Crime In Retrying Ex-Ill. Gov. Blagojevich

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

There’s no question it was a major embarrassment for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald when a Chicago jury on Tuesday convicted the over-chatty ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on only 1 of 24 counts — and that sole count did not even go to the meat of the case.

But I have to disagree with my former paper, the Washington Post, which said in an editorial that Fitzgerald “should back off” retrying the case. I also disagree with the Wall Street Journal editorial, which said Fitzgerald should resign or be removed by the Justice Department.

The Post said a retrial would amount to persecution, not prosecution. The Journal says that Fitzgerald piled up charges in this case and others and “this pattern points to a willful prosecutor who throws an exaggerated book at unpopular defendants and hopes at least one of the charges will stick, even as he flouts due process and the presumption of innocence when the political winds are high.”

First off, the jury voted 11-1 to convict on some counts including the most publicized one that Blagojevich tried selling the Senate seat vacated by Obama. One juror  said she thought Blagojevich was simply engaging in politics as usual. Sad, but true.

A retrial is not inappropriate. Even in the best of cases, you can run into a juror who simply holds out, rightly or wrongly. It happens. It doesn’t mean your case is a stinker or that you shouldn’t retry the case; it doesn’t mean you’re mean, vindictive if you retry the case.

Politicians have to learn that with political office comes the responsibility of being honest and having some integrity. Shaking down people for money shouldn’t be part of the job description.

Frankly, I find Rod Blagojevich amusing. So do a lot of other folks around the country. But he stepped way over the line. He knew he was stepping over the line. Unfortunately, yes, stepping over the line is simply politics as usual in Illinois and other parts of the country like Louisiana and New Jersey.

We need to keep sending a message this isn’t the politics as usual we want.

Last of 3 Az. Prison Escapees Nabbed at Campground

John McCluskey/marshal photo

John McCluskey/marshal photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The hunt for the last of three fugitives who escaped from an Arizona prison is over.

The U.S. Marshals Service said John McCluskey and his accomplice Casslyn Welch were captured Thursday at a campsite in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in eastern Arizona following a tip from a suspicious U.S. Forest Service ranger, the Associated Press reported. Welch is McLulskey’s fiancee and cousin.

Welch and two other inmates escaped from a private prison in northwest Arizona on July 30. The other two had already been captured.

The Associated Press reported that the ranger on Thursday checked an unattended fire and noticed a silver Nissan Sentra had been parked in a wooded area as if someone was trying to hide it.

AP reported that the ranger spoke briefly to McCluskey, who appeared nervous.

A SWAT team later surrounded the camp ground and made the arrest, U.S. Marshal David Gonzales said, according to AP.

Gonzales said Welch reached for a weapon but dropped it after realizing she was outnumbered. McCluskey was lying in a sleeping bag.

“The nightmare that began July 30 is finally over,” Gonzales said, according to the AP.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Blago Begins Round 2: Has No Intention to Seek Plea

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Five FBI Agents Partook in Ironman Competition at Lake Placid

ironmanBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Now for the lighter side of life.

FBI agent Christopher Johnson was one of five agents who partook in the Ironman competition at Lake Placid, N.Y. on July 25, the FBI in Detroit announced.

Johnson completed the 140.6 mile race — 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run — in 11:17:43, according to the FBI. He finished 436th out of about 2,700 people.

The FBI said Johnson over seven months performed “each event several times per week.”

Sandra R. Berchtold, spokeswoman for the Detroit FBI, said she did not have the names of the other agents. The FBI National Press Office was trying to track them down Thursday afternoon.

Head of St. Louis FBI Roland Corvington Going to Work For University

Roland Corvington/fbi photo

Roland Corvington/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Veteran agent Roland J. Corvington, head of the St. Louis FBI, is leaving to the become  chief of security at Saint Louis University, according to the St. Louis American.

“I am terribly sad to see him go,” U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan for Eastern Missouri – executive prosecutor to Corvington’s top cop in St. Louis’ federal crime-fighting community.

The paper reported that Corvington, who had been with the FBI for 23, became eligible for retirement last December.  He still had seven years until the mandatory retirement age of 50.

The paper reported he’ll assume the position of assistant vice president and director of public safety and security services.

“This was a great opportunity for post-retirement,” Corvington told the paper.

To read his FBI bio click here.

Dallas FBI Agent Set to Plead to Hiring Illegals for Deli She Owned

dallas-map1By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Dallas FBI agent who was fired after the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed charges last month claiming she hired illegal immigrants for a restaurant she owned is expected to plead guilty to the charges next week, the Dallas Morning News reports.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed misdemeanor charges on July 28 against agent Ann Cox, accusing her of employing six illegal immigrants from 1997 to 2008 at Schlotzsky’s restaurant Rockwall, Tex., the Dallas Morning News reported.

“While operating the deli, Cox engaged in a pattern and practice of hiring and employing aliens in the United States while knowing that they were unauthorized for such employment,” court documents stated, according to the newspaper.

Cox signed a plea agreement on July 28, the same day a criminal information was filed in U.S. District Court, according to court records. She expected to enter her plea Aug. 27 and is likely to get probation. The paper reported that her husband is  an FBI agent, but is not involved in the case.

The Dallas FBI spokesman Mark White declined comment, according to the paper.

Read Criminal Information

Feds Charge 7-Time Cy Young Winner Roger Clemens With Lying to Congress About Steroids

*Jan 06 - 00:05*By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON – The feds in Washington, as expected, let rip an indictment on Thursday charging seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens with perjury, making false statements and obstruction of Congress stemming from his dubious testimony in 2008 before lawmakers investigating steroid use in baseball.

If convicted, Clemens, 48, of Houston, could face 15-21 months under the recommended federal sentencing guidelines, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

In February 2008, Clemens testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform contradicted that of Brian McNamee, his former trainer. Clemens had denied ever taking steroids.

During his testimony, according to the indictment, Clemens said: “And like I stated in the press conferences and when I first came out to make my statements when I heard about allegations, basically it pertains to what (Strength Coach #1) is saying about me. It is false. I have not used steroids or growth hormone.”

The indictment when on to say: “In truth, and in fact, as Clemens well knew when he gave his sworn statement, Clemens knowingly received injections of HGH while he was an MLB player.”

In early 2008, the House committee held hearings titled: “The Mitchell Report: The Illegal Use of Steroids in Major League Baseball.”

“The FBI has a responsibility to ensure the integrity of the investigative process is maintained, and that includes the obligation of witnesses to testify truthfully,” Shawn Henry, head of the FBI’s Washington field office said in a statement.

Read indictment

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NceK7SPsKwg

Ex-FBI Agent Who is Muslim Says Opposition to Mosque Helping al Qaeda About War Against Islam

bin Laden said getting weapons of mass destruction was a "religious duty"

bin Laden said getting weapons of mass destruction was a "religious duty"

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former top FBI interrogator, who is a Muslim, says the opposition to building a mosque near ground zero is only helping al-Qaeda, the Washington Post’s Spy Talk column reports.

“It bolsters the message that radicalizers are selling: That the war is against Islam, and Muslims are not welcome in America,” ex-FBI agent Ali Soufan wrote in a piece in Forbes magazine, according to Spy Talk.

“There are many reasons for supporting the Muslim community’s right to build a cultural center and mosque on private property, not least of all the First Amendment of the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion,” wrote Soufan, who was a supervisory special agent with the bureau from 1997 to 2005.

“But from a national security perspective, our leaders need to understand that no one is likely to be happier with the opposition to building a mosque than Osama Bin Laden. His next video script has just written itself.”