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Archive for January, 2011

Long Time Fugitive Sentenced to 15 Years for 1968 Hijacking of Pan Am Flight 281 to Havana

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Luis Armando Pena Soltren, a fugitive for 41 years,  was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in New York to 15 years in prison for his role in the Nov. 24, 1968, hijacking of a Puerto Rico-bound Pan American flight 281 to Havana from JFK Airport.

After being on the run for decades, Pena Soltren, 67, a U.S. citizen, voluntarily surrendered in October 2009. He pled guilty in March.

“Today’s sentence of Luis Armando Pena Soltren for the violent hijacking in which he participated more than four decades ago should send a strong message that we will vindicate the interests of justice no matter how long it takes,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Read more »

Stephen Anthony Named Head of Cleveland FBI

Stephen D. Anthony/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Ohio native Stephen D. Anthony, a former special assistant to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, has been named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Division.

Anthony most recently was responsible for establishing an FBI-wide leadership development program, the FBI said.

Anthony entered the FBI in February 1988 and was first assigned to the Memphis Division. He established the city’s first Safe Streets Task Force. He was named a field supervisor in 2000.

In December 2003, he held different posts within the Executive Development and Selection Program at FBI Headquarters.

In February 2006, he was elevated to assistant special agent in charge at the Washington Field Office (WFO), where he oversaw all administrative matters and training programs, the FBI said.

Read more »

Thomas Browne Named Assistant Director of FBI’s Training Division

Thomas Browne/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Thomas J. Browne, former head of the Little Rock FBI office, has been named assistant director of the agency’s Training Division.

In his new assignment,  Browne will be responsible for all FBI training programs, including the new agent and intelligence analyst training programs, and the National Academy, which trains federal, state, local and international police executives.

Browne entered the FBI in August 1985 and was first assigned to Las Vegas, where he investigated white collar crime.

In April 1990, he headed east to the Newark Field Office and subsequently went to the Franklin Township Resident Agency and investigated organized crime and white collar crime. He was the case agent in a high-profile case involving a corrupt prosecutor.

In July 1996, he was off to headquarters where he served in the Financial Crimes Section of the Criminal Investigative Division.

Read more »

Neo-Nazi on Trial Also Targeted Miami Herald Columnist Leonard Pitts, FBI Agent Testifies

file photo/ art by sean mccabe

ticklethewire.com file art/art by sean mccabe

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent testified Tuesday that a Neo-Nazi on trial in federal court in Chicago once posted potentially harmful information about a popular African American Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The agent’s testimony came in the trial of Neo-Nazi William White, who is charged with advocating violence on his website overthrow.com against Chicago juror Mark Hoffman, who helped convict white supremacist Matt Hale in 2004, the paper reported.

White wrote that Hoffman was a “gay, Jewish anti-racist” who wrongfully helped convict Hale, who had ordered his head of security — who turned out to be an FBI informant — to kill U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow, the Sun-Times reported. At some point, two family members of Judge Lefkow’s were murdered by a disgruntled litigant not affiliated with a white supremacist group, the Sun-Times reported.

In the case of Leonard Pitts, White criticized his column, used the n-word and posted personal information about Pitts including his wife’s name and a home address, according to testimony reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The FBI agent testified that when the Miami Herald managing editor asked White of Roanoke, Va., to take the info down, White replied by email: “Frankly, if some loony took the info and killed him, I wouldn’t shed a tear.”

To read more click here.

Ex-FBI Official Don Clark Comments on Mexican Drug Cartel Truce

Wealth Manager Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Fund Hillary Clinton Campaign Through Elton John Concert

Hillary Clinton/state dept. photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The operator of a wealth management firm pleaded guilty Monday in Washington federal court to causing the Hillary Clinton for President Committee to unwittingly submit false statements to the Federal Election Commission involving campaign contributions totaling $48,300. The scheme involved an Elton John concert.

Evan Snapper, 46, of Fairfield, Conn., pleaded guilty in a scheme in which 21 individuals bought Elton John tickets for $2,300 each, knowing they would all be reimbursed by one person, and the money would go to the Clinton campaign,  the Justice Department said.

According to authorities, Snapper admitted that in March 2008, he informed a certain individual that Elton John was to perform in New York City on April 9, 2008, with ticket proceeds going to the Clinton committee.

Knowing the individual was a Clinton supporter, Snapper suggested he get people to buy tickets.

Authorities said Snapper admitted that he and 20 people agreed to purchase a ticket to the concert, knowing the individual would reimburse them in violation of campaign finance laws.

Snapper then worked to disguise the reimbursements. False statements were subsequently made to the Federal Elections Commission, authorities said. Snapper also pleaded guilty to campaign violations involving Jim Gilmore campaigns for Senate and President.

Sentencing is set for April 7.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Game of Musical Chairs at Justice as Deputy Atty. Gen. Gets Sworn In

Gary Grindler/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — It’s a game of musical chairs over at the Justice Department at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

Gary G. Grindler, who had been filling in as acting deputy attorney general, the number two spot, becomes chief of staff to the Attorney General, the department announced Monday.

Grindler is being replaced by James Cole, who was installed as deputy Attorney General through a recess appointment by President Obama. Cole was sworn in on Monday.

James Cole/law firm

And Grindler replaces Kevin Ohlson, who will be “resuming his career service with the department,” the Justice Department announced in a press release.

“Kevin Ohlson has been an extraordinary public servant through a long career at the department, and while I am sorry to lose him from my office, I am grateful for his tireless work leading my staff the past two years,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

“As he has throughout his career, Gary Grindler showed remarkable leadership under difficult circumstances as Acting Deputy Attorney General over the past year, and I could not be more pleased that he has agreed to continue that service in this new role as my chief of staff.”

Grindler had served as Acting Deputy Attorney General since Feb. 5. Ohlson had served as Chief of Staff and Counselor to the Attorney General since February 2009. He had previously served as the Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, chief of staff to the Deputy Attorney General and Assistant U.S. Attorney, the Justice Department said.

Column: Defense Attorney Says Some Fed Prosecutors Need to be Fired and Indicted for Their Acts

James Burdick is a former Wayne County prosecutor in Detroit and is a criminal defense attorney who also practices health care discipline and is a reinstatement expert at the firm of Burdick Law, P.C. in Bloomfield Hills, Mi. He has also appeared regularly on Larry King Live, Court TV, Geraldo, Good Morning America and other national shows.

James Burdick

By James Burdick

I was reading a recent USA Today article cited in ticklethewire.com, which found 201 cases since 1997 in which courts concluded that federal prosecutors violated laws or ethics rules. In some of  those instances, cases were tossed or sentences were reduced.

It’s good to see those facts unearthed. Still, someone needs to ask the Justice Department: How many of the ASUAs (assistant U.S. Attorneys) who got caught doing these things were fired? (I’m sure only a fraction of offensive behavior was ever discovered, just as few ever get caught pulling off their first bank robbery.)

The other pressing question for the Justice Department is: How many were indicted as they should have been for obstruction or related charges? Answer: Few, if any.

Example: In a drug case I tried in the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids, the U.S. Attorney ADMITTED to the Court that the trial AUSA and case agent had withheld “potentially exculpatory evidence.”

In May of 2009, the government filed a motion that said: “A preliminary inquiry had indicated that the Government was in possession of information which may have corroborated the claim of this defendant that he presented at trial, that he himself provided the information which led to his arrest and this indictment. In the interest of justice…..the government will thereafter move to dismiss the indictment…Furthermore, an investigation of Defendant’s allegations has been initiated.”  (Read document)

The case was dismissed against that defendant as a result, but the AUSA is still prosecuting cases and the promised “internal investigation” has resulted in nothing at all (no public disclosure) or has concluded that the AUSA could stay, continue to prosecute, and not get indicted.

What do you think would have happened to a defense attorney who acted that way? He/she would have lost their license, been prosecuted for sure, and landed in prison.

People don’t want to believe that some guardians of justice in this Country can be as corrupt as the criminals they pursue. There’s a reason why prosecutors often joke: “Anyone can convict the guilty; it takes real work to convict the innocent.”

It would be funny if it weren’t so scary.