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Archive for September, 2010

FBI’s Joe Persichini Lands Job with D.C. Police Foundation

Joseph Persichini Jr./fbi photo

Joseph Persichini Jr./fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Joseph Persichini Jr., who headed the FBI’s Washington Field Office until he retired last Christmas, is now the executive director of the Washington D.C. Police Foundation, the Washington Examiner reported.

Persichini left the FBI under a cloud after he and two other top officials in the office were investigated internally for cheating on an open book exam on bureau policy about conducting surveillances on Americans.

A report issued Monday by the Justice Department’s Inspector General found that the cheating on that test was pervasive around the country.

It also noted that Persichini had cheated on the test but Persichini retired “from the FBI after learning that the FBI proposed to discipline him, but before the FBI had reached a final decision about that discipline.”

FBI Arrests Az. Border Town Mayor in Arizona on Corruption Charges

Mayor Octavio Garcia-Von Borstel

Mayor Octavio Garcia-Von Borstel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

FBI agents on Tuesday arrested the mayor of the border town of Nogales, Az., on public corruption charges including bribery, theft, fraud and money laundering, authorities said.

Mayor Garcia Von Borstel, a Democrat, was arrested at his city hall office in the morning and search warrants were executed at his home, business and government office, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office said.

“Today’s arrest of Mayor Van Borstel has been a collaborative effort with the FBI’s Southern Arizona Corruption Task Force and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office,” Nathan T. Gray, head of the FBI’s Phoenix office said in a statement. “When a public official allegedly commits criminal acts it erodes the public’s trust. The FBI and our law enforcement partners are determined to address public corruption at all levels of government.”

The case is being prosecuted by the state Attorney General’s Office in state court.

Read more »

Inside the FBI’s Terrorism Fight; Making Friends

Ex-N.J. State Sen. Indicted Along With Attorney

Wayne Bryant

Wayne Bryant

By Glynnesha Taylor
ticklethewire.com

Former New Jersey state Sen. Wayne R. Bryant, who is already serving a four year sentence on a public corruption conviction, was indicted Monday in another case involving allegations that he took $192,000 in bribes to support some major building projects, authorities said.

Bryant, who represented New Jersey’s 5th District, was also an equity partner in a Cherry Hill law firm. Attorney Eric D. Wisler, who was also indicted in the case, was an equity partner at a Teaneck, N.J. firm.

In 2004, Wisler, who represented developers,  arranged for Bryant’s firm to get an $8,000 per month retainer for legal fees and other costs that would help with the development projects in the New Jersey Meadowlands.

The payment fee was supposedly made to cover fees for legal work and other costs.

But authorities allege that the payments were bribes paid in exchange for official action that Bryant took in favor of the different redevelopment projects on behalf of Wisler and his clients, according to the indictment.

One of the projects included a proposed $1.2 billion redevelopment of Camden’s Cramer Hill neighborhood, which is in Bryant’s legislative district.

Bryant’s firm was paid approximately $192,000 in fees between August 2004 and August 2006, but no actual legal work took place under the retainer agreement, authorities alleged.

The indictment alleges that both Wisler and Bryant made an effort to hide the retainer agreement and they created fake invoices to try and show that Bryant’s firm was providing actual legal services.

The indictment charges Bryant and Wisler with bribery and mail fraud.

In 2008, Bryant was convicted of selling his office to get a low-work job at the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Camden to help pad his pension. In exchange, he agreed to use his influence to help the school get $10.5 million in state grants.

A Costly Dip in the Pool for Fed Prosecutor Who is Arrested

miami-mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Cronin’s decision to take a little dip in the pool has created a major headache.

The Miami Herald reports Cronin was arrested Sunday in Miami  after a mother and young girl accused him of being indecent when he jumped into the pool at Finnegan’s River, a local bar overlooking the Miami River and downtown, wearing his boxers.

The Herald reported that the 35-year-old prosecutor was charged with a felony — lewd and lascivious behavior in front of a minor.

The arrest form said the girl and her mother, who were in the pool, said Cronin’s privates were exposed after getting out of the pool and the mother had to cover up her daughter’s eyes, the Herald reported.

Cronin, who is assigned to the appellate division in Miami, tried fleeing, but officers caught him, the Herald said. He was arrested about 2:30 p.m.

Cronin’s lawyer, Joel Denaro, told the Herald that the charges are “beyond absurd.”

“He went swimming in his boxer shorts, for God’s sake,” Denaro told The Miami Herald. “He did nothing wrong.”

The U.S. attorney’s office in Miami declined comment, according to the Herald.

Longest Serving Fed Prosecutor Stepping Down After 59 Years

justice dept. logoBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — There’s longevity on the job, and then there’s John “Jack” C. Keeney.

On Friday, the Justice Department held a retirement ceremony to mark the end of his 59-year career as the longest serving federal prosecutor in U.S. history.

According to a Justice Department account of the event, as Keeney “walked on stage at 3:09 p.m., the sea of Justice Department employees past and present leapt to their feet and did not stop applauding for a full minute. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer set the tone for what he called a ‘remarkable’ day and an historic Justice Department ‘homecoming’.”

Read more »

Witness in Chandra Levy Case Was Sexually Assaulted in Prison by Suspect

Chandra Levy

Chandra Levy

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office is gearing up for an Oct. 18 trial in the slaying of intern Chandra Levy in 2001.

The latest in the case came Monday when prosecutors told a D.C. Superior Court judge that Ingmar Guandique,29, the man charged in the murder, sexually assaulted a fellow inmate who is expected to testify as a key government witness, the Washington Post reported.

The witness is expected to testify that Guandique told him that he murdered a woman in Washington and “tied her down” and “hog tied” her before sexually assaulting her, the Post reported.

The Post reported that prosecutors expect the defense to argue that the witness, who was not named, was biased against Guandique because of the sexual assault in prison.

Guandique is currently serving a 10-year sentence for assaulting two women at knifepoint in Rock Creek Park in Northwest Washington where Levy’s skeletal remains were found one year after she disappeared.

The trial is being held in the city’s criminal court.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. handles criminal cases in both the federal and city courts.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Cheating Scandal Shows Human Side of FBI

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI may be the nation’s premiere law enforcement agency — with a worldwide reputation — but in the end it’s made up of humans. And yes, humans do screw up.

Over the years, we saw a drunk agent shoot up a freezer at a Las Vegas hotel. We had an FBI agent arrested for shoplifting in suburban Washington. We had an off-duty agent in Texas shoot dead a neighbor’s Chihuahua. It happens. We don’t expect perfection. Individuals screw up.

But the latest scandal — cheating on an open book exam — is far more embarrassing than some individual screw up, than some agent gone rogue.  The bureau had training sessions on guidelines for conducting surveillances on Americans, and wanted to make sure everyone understood. So it gave open book exams on computers. Some took 20 minutes to finish the exam.  Those were the cheaters. Some agents who legitimately took the test took three or four hours.

There was widespread cheating, according to an Inspector General report. Some took the exam together, which was forbidden.  Many got hold of the answers. Cheat sheets circulated.

What ever the case, the big question is: How did this become so epidemic? Did the big guys at headquarters fall asleep at the switch or rely on managers who were part of the problem?  Or did they simply set up a test in which even some of the most honest folks felt it was ok to cheat on?

At the Washington Field Office, some of the top managers were part of the problem.  The head of the office, Joe Persichini Jr. and two of his special agents in charge got caught cheating.  Not a good sign of leadership. Persichini quit late last year before any discipline was meted out.  The other two are appealing their punishment — a 20 day unpaid suspension along with demotions.

The test has become a joke. And unfortunately, the laugh is on an agency that takes itself pretty darn seriously — as it should.

The bureau needs to be smarter next time around.