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Archive for January, 2011

Customs and Border Patrol Agent Indicted for Lying to FBI and Making Up Story

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities claim U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent Andrew Rodriguez of Minnesota tried to get a transfer to the southern border by telling a big lie to federal investigators.

On Thursday,  an indictment was unsealed charging Rodriguez, 29, of East Grand Folks, Minn., with making a false statement to the FBI, claiming two men threatened his family. He is no longer with the agency.

The indictment alleges that last Nov. 7, Rodriguez told FBI agents he was pulled over by two men on Minnesota Highway 71, who threatened to hurt his family if he didn’t do as they said.

Authorities say that Rodriguez also told the FBI agents that he had seen the men’s vehicle near his home on a few recent occasions.

He later confessed that he fabricated the story to get a transfer to the southern border.

ICE System Failed to Catch Illegal Immigrant in Va. Before Rape of 8-Year-Old Girl

Loudoun County Jail

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer

Salvador Portillo-Saravia, a member of the MS-13 street gang, was charged with raping an 8-year-old girl at her Fairfax County (Va.) home last month. But he never should have been in Fairfax in the first place.

Federal officials deported Portillo-Saravia, of Sterling, to El Salvador in 2003, and he sneaked back in illegally. Now, officials are wondering why a much-touted federal program didn’t catch him before the rape.

Four weeks before the crime, Portillo-Saravia was in the Loudoun County jail for public intoxication. That’s when the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program, called Secure Communities, should have identified him as an illegal immigrant and he should have been taken into custody.

Loudoun authorities ran Portillo-Saravia’s fingerprints through a federal database, but despite the 2003 deportation, nothing was found. He was released after 12 hours behind bars.

To read more click here.

Mexican Drug Smugglers Use Catapult to Fling Pot into U.S.

Mexican authorities with the catapult/customs and border protection photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Smugglers never seem to run out of ways to get drugs into the U.S.

The latest: U.S. authorities tipped off Mexicans officials that some smugglers were using a catapult to launch marijuana packages from Mexico into the U.S.

The Associated Press reported that National Guard troops in Arizona spotted the catapult on a remote video surveillance system at the Naco Border Patrol Station Friday night, 80 miles southeast of Tucson. The U.S. Border Patrol then contacted Mexican authorities.

Mexican authorities responded and disrupted the operation, but the smugglers fled, leaving behind about 45 pounds of marijuana.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YLby2mxzp4

Ex-Fed Prosecutor Named U.S. Magistrate in Baltimore

Stephanie Gallagher

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former Baltimore federal prosecutor Stephanie A. Gallagher has been named a U.S. District Magistrate Judge in Baltimore.

Gallagher, 38, served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Baltimore office for seven years before forming the firm Levin & Gallagher in Baltimore.

At the U.S. Attorney’s Office she investigated and prosecuted a number of high profile cases involving public corruption, money laundering, RICO, mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, tax offenses, and narcotics trafficking. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Steven Levin, her law partner and former supervisor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement:

“I have had the honor of working with Stephanie both in government service, where she proved herself to be a dedicated public servant, and in the private sector, where she has shown herself to be a consummate professional through the exercise of her sound judgment and constant adherence to the highest ethical standards.’

Levin is a contributing columnist for ticklethewire.com.

Disgraced Ex-Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick Will Have Some Darn Interesting Reading While in Prison

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Detroit’s disgraced ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who sits behind bars at a federal prison in Michigan, should have some interesting reading to pass the time.

A federal judge Wednesday ordered the government to give him 24 DVDs containing evidence he can review to prep for his case in which he’s accused of racketeering and taking bribes while in office, the Detroit News reported.

The News reports that the DVDs contain thousands of text messages, phone conversations caught on wiretaps and summaries of more than 200 interviews the FBI conducted with people.

Kilpatrick,40, once dubbed the “hip hop mayor”, is currently in a federal prison in Milan, Mi. serving time for failing to pay $1 million in restitution after he pleaded in 2008 to obstruction of justice charges for lying about an affair with his chief of staff and about the discharge of a police official while under oath during a whistle-blower lawsuit in state court. The lies were revealed in Kilpatrick’s text messages the Detroit Free Press published.

He was sentenced in state court in May to 18 months to 5 years in prison for violating his probation.

A month later, he was indicted by a federal grand jury on 19 federal counts including mail fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion and filing a false tax return. He was Detroit mayor from 2002 to 2008.

Bernard Kilpatrick/wxyz tv

In December, Kilpatrick was indicted along with his father Bernard Kilpatrick, city contractor Bobby Ferguson, former top Kilpatrick aide Derrick Miller and former water department chief Victor Mercado.

The indictment alleged that the defendants extorted money from municipal contracts and were knee-deep in bribery.

Some Fed Prosecutors Need to be Fire and Indicted for Their Acts

By James Burdick
ticklethewire.com


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.

Bye Bye Security Color Codes and the Constant State of Orange

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

Column: The Las Vegas Mob Experience — A Social Disgrace

William Donati is an English professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) and author of the recently-released book: “Lucky Luciano: The Rise and Fall of a Mob Boss”

By William Donati
For ticklethewire.com

LAS VEGAS — The debut of the Las Vegas Mob Experience — a new museum housed in the legendary Tropicana — coincides fairly closely with the recent mob arrests announced by Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States.

So it looks like some wiseguys won’t be attending the opening on Feb. 17 that “tells the real story of the men behind the myths” — folks like Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, Sam Giancana, the Spilotros and others.

Those charged by Eric Holder’s office allegedly engaged in murder, extortion, loan sharking, prostitution, and other illegal acts. The convicted will have a new mob experience: prison, ruined lives, humiliated wives, sons, and daughters.

Why did they choose to be wiseguys, as they call themselves? Too many movies? Could be.

Whatever the case, we’ve got to stop glamorizing these folks.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly apparently agrees. He criticized the entertainment realm for using mobsters as screen material. In fact, “Boardwalk Empire”, a popular HBO series on the mob starring Steve Buscemi, just won a Golden Globes award for the series about criminal Enoch “Nucky” Johnson.

Read more »