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December 2010


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for December 6th, 2010

The Feds Say in This Story Spiderman is the Bad Guy

Spiderman, Spiderman, Does whatever a spider can.
Spins a web, any size, Catches thieves just like flies.
Look Out! Here comes the Spiderman.”

Theme song to Spiderman

Tarantula/doj photo

By Glynnesha Taylor

In this case,  the feds spun a web to capture a German man in a probe dubbed “Operation Spiderman.”

Late last week, special agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Postal Inspectors — like spiders waiting for the prey — arrested German resident Sven Koppler, 37, after he arrived in Los Angeles on charges of  smuggling hundreds of tarantulas into the U.S. using the U.S. Mail, the Justice Department said. Some of the spiders were protected by international law.

The investigation began in March when a routine search of an international package turned up about 300 live tarantulas that were being shipped to Los Angeles.

The Fish and Wildlife agents intercepted a second package that had about 250 live tarantulas wrapped in colored plastic straws, and another package with 22 Brachypelma red kneed tarantulas, which are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species treaty.

The Fish and Wildlife agents set up an undercover investigation and ordered additional tarantulas from Koppler. They received several of the tarantulas dead and alive, including the Brachypelmas.

Authorities estimated that Koppler earned about $300,000 peddling tarantulas to people around the world, including about nine individuals in the U.S.

A spokeswoman from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife services said that the issue when shipping animals is whether or not the animals are permitted and if the person has an import/ export license.

“There are a lot of illegal shipments,” said the spokeswoman.

Koppler could face up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.


Hundreds Charged in Crackdown on Investment Fraud

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — A 3 1/2 month operation involving the  nation’s “largest ever” crackdown on  financial fraud,  has resulted in the arrest of hundreds of people who swindled investors out of  billions of dollars, the Justice Department announced Monday.

Dubbed “Operation Broken Trust”, authorities said they have taken criminal action against 343 people and civil action against 189 in a crackdown that involved more than 120,000 victims. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said losses exceeded more than in $8 billion in the criminal cases alone and more than $2 billion in the civil cases.

“While there is nothing new about conducting nationwide operations and sweeps – this one is different in that it brought together a broad array of criminal and civil enforcement tools, at both the federal and state level, to attack investment fraud schemes collectively,” Holder said at a press conference here.

“Operation Broken Trust is the first national operation in history to target the many different types of investment fraud schemes that prey directly on the investing public.”

“All of these victims can tell a tragic and cautionary story of being misled and exploited – often by someone they trusted,” Holder said. “In fact, many of the scam artists we’ve identified were preying on their own neighbors – and on the most vulnerable members of their communities.

“Several of those prosecuted during this operation solicited victim investors from their own churches. One man in Texas allegedly targeted his fellow parishioners, asking them to invest with him and claiming that his success in foreign exchange trading was ‘a blessing from God’.”

Holder specifically gave a shout out at the press conference to:  FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry, SEC Director of Enforcement Robert Khuzami, U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Chief Postal Inspector, Guy Cottrell; IRS Criminal Investigation Deputy Chief Rick Raven; and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Acting Director of Enforcement Vincent McGonagle.

While Blago Awaits Retrial He Pushes Nuts

Gov Blagojevich in happier days/state photo

By Allan Lengel

Some of his constituents have called him a nut, so perhaps the latest act of federal defendant Rod Blagojevich makes sense…or at least some cents.

Blagojevich joins Snooki, comic Lewis Black, and “Keyboard Cat” as a pitchman in the Wonderful Pistachios’s “Get Crackin'” ad campaign, the Chicago Reader reports.

Meanwhile, the disgraced ex-governor of Illinois awaits a retrial in April in U.S. District Court in Chicago on federal corruption charges. Blagojevich embarrassed prosecutors when he was convicted on only one of 24 corruption counts. The jury deadlocked on the remaining charges and a mistrial was declared.

Last week, at a hearing in Chicago, prosecutors said they were working on a questionnaire for jurors, the Associated Press.

His charges include allegations that he tried selling Barack Obama’s Senate seat.


ICE Did Questionable Things to Meet Deportation Goal

ice photo

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement manipulated the system and did highly questionable things to meet deportation goals, the Center for Investigative Reporting reported in the Washington Post.

The news organization reported that ICE included in its stats  more than 19,000 immigrants who exited the U.S. the previous year.

“When ICE officials realized in the final weeks of the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, that the agency still was in jeopardy of falling short of last year’s mark, it scrambled to reach the goal,” Andrew Becker of the Center for Investigative Reporting reported. “Officials quietly directed immigration officers to bypass backlogged immigration courts and time-consuming deportation hearings whenever possible, internal e-mails and interviews show.

“Instead, officials told immigration officers to encourage eligible foreign nationals to accept a quick pass to their countries without a negative mark on their immigration record, ICE employees said,” according to the news organization.

To read the full story click here.

Calif FBI Employee Charged With Lying About Debt

By Allan Lengel

A FBI employee in San Francisco is in big trouble as a result of financial statement she made, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The paper reported that Rachelle Thomas-Zuill, 39, who conducted background investigations on FBI agents for security clearances in San Francisco, was charged in court documents in San Jose with lying about the  debt she had on her properties, court records show.

Thomas-Zuill  wrote on a financial disclosure form to the government that she owned three properties with an outstanding mortgage debt of $866,000, when in reality she owned six properties with a debt of more than $2.2 million, the paper wrote.

The paper reported that she worked from 2003 until July of this year as a personnel security specialist for the FBI.