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Archive for April, 2011

Detroit Fed Judge Sets August Plea Deadline for Underwear Bomber

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marshals photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The man dubbed the Underwear Bomber has until Aug. 19 to hammer out a plea deal, the Associated reported. Trial is set for October.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried blowing up an Amsterdam to Detroit bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas day in 2009, appeared in U.S. District Court on Thursday in downtown Detroit.

Prosecutors had asked for the plea deadline for Abdulmutallab, who is representing himself, AP reported.

Knowledgeable sources have privately said that Abdumutallab, should he choose to knock out a plea, won’t have much bargaining power since he was caught in the act in front of a number of witnesses.

They say he might be able to negotiate for certain conditions in prison, but isn’t likely to get much more.

Justice Dept. Threatens to Withhold Funds From Police Depts. That Don’t Require Body Armor

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — No body armor, no cash.

That’s what the Justice Department is saying.

USA Today reports that the Justice Department is threatening to withhold millions of federal dollars from  local police departments that don’t require uniformed officers to wear body armor.

The threats come in wake of a spike in fatal shootings of cops. Body armor is not required at 41 percent of the nation’s police departments, USA Today reports.

“What struck us is the number of agencies that don’t have a mandatory policy … a potential huge vulnerability,” Jim Burch, acting director of the department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, told USA Today. “If we’re investing federal dollars, we should require agencies to have policies.”

FBI’s Tape Recorder Went Dead During Portland Terrorism Probe

Mohamed Mohamud

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Despite all the advances, human error can still trump  modern technology.

The Portland Oregonian reports that the FBI’s efforts last July to record Mohamed Mohamud  first talking about taking part in a terrorist bombing plot in Portland failed because the tape recorder went dead.

“Put simply,” the government wrote in court paper filed Thursday, “it was human error: the device was accidentally turned on hours before the meeting time and therefore ran out of battery power as the meeting began.”

Mohamud’s lawyers have claimed their client was entrapped into participating in a plot to kill and maim thousands at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland on Nov. 26.

The paper reports that the first utterances in the case could be very significant.

The paper reported that legal scholars say “the FBI’s botched recording will make for interesting arguments in court because first utterances of criminal intentions are pivotal in entrapment cases.”

Feds Bust Dirty Chicago Cops Who Were Part of Elite Unit That Stole Hundreds of Thousands From Dope Dealers


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The feds on Thursday came down on one current and three former Chicago cops — all members of a now disbanded elite-city wide unit —  implicating them in an out-of-control flurry of activity that involved false arrests, false charges and the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug dealers.

One of the former cops, Jerome A. Finnigan, the ring leader,  was already facing a federal murder-for-hire charge in connection with his alleged attempt to bump off a fellow cop who he feared would testify against him in state court, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The cops, who all plan to plead guilty, were part of the elite Special Operations Section that was disbanded in 2007, authorities said.

Specifically, Finnigan and then officer Keith A. Herrera were charged with “routinely and regularly” making unlawful arrests and searches, and when the opportunity arose, stealing lots of money. In one instance, on Sept. 18, 2004, authorities alleged that Finnigan and other officers made an unlawful traffic stop, took the person’s house key and seized $450,000 in cash. The money was divided among the officers.

On May 17, 2005, Finnigan, Herrera and other cops made another unlawful traffic stop and searched the motorist’s home and seized $30,000 in cash.  The officers then “inventoried only $463” and falsely accused the motorist of discarding narcotics when they approached. The officers split up $29,500, authorities said.

Several months later, Finnigan, Herrera and other cops made an unlawful traffic stop of that same person and cited him for an offense he didn’t commit “to intimidate” him so he wouldn’t  complain about the stolen money, authorities said. In all, the feds say Finnigan netted about $200,000 and Herrera got about $40,000 in 2004 and 2005.

In late 2006, state charges were brought against Finnigan and other members of the elite police unit for the unlawful arrests and seizures of cash. Then in 2007, Finnigan discussed with Herrera,  who was cooperating with authorities, paying someone to kill another cop who he believed would become a witness in the state criminal cases.  Finnigan was arrested on Sept. 26, 2007

Ex-cops Stephen DelBosque, 35, and current officer Eric J. Olsen, 37, were charged with misdemeanor civil rights violations. DelBosque allegedly testified falsely before a state grand jury in 2005 that a man dropped a bag of two bricks of cocaine when he was approached by officers, when in fact he had no drugs. The cops searched the man’s home and found 101 kilos of cocaine in his garage.

Olson also lied about a search of a man at a tavern, authorities said. Seven other officers have already pleaded guilty to state charges for their roles in the rogue activity.

Somali Pirate Will Remain Anchored For a Long Time: Gets 25 Years

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The modern day pirates continue to baffle the world in their ability to commandeer large ships and get away with it. Still, not all have gone free.

On Thursday, Jama Idle Ibrahim, a/k/a Jaamac Ciidle, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Washington to 25 years in prison for his role in the takeover of a merchant vessel, the M/V CEC Future, in the Gulf of Aden for 71 days from November 2008 to January 16, 2009.

Ibrahim, 39, of Somalia, pled guilty on September 8, 2010 to conspiracy to commit piracy under the law of nations and conspiracy to use a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Authorities said the act of piracy against against the vessel began on Nov. 7, 2008 when Ibrahim and other Somalis pirates, armed with AK 47s, a rocket-propelled grenade, and handguns, attacked and seized the vessel.

The pirates held the vessel, cargo, and 13 crew members for ransom and forced the crew to anchor in waters off the Somalia coast.

In time, additional pirates boarded the vessel. The pirates threatened the crew, stole money, food and supplies and gave up the ship after they got a $1.7 million ransom.

“Modern-day pirates are nothing like the swashbuckling heroes in Hollywood movies,” said D.C.  U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. “Today’s pirates are ruthless criminals who hold ships and their crews hostage with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. Twenty-five years in prison is a just punishment for this attack that threatened international commerce and human life.”

5 People Indicted in Fire Bombing of Arkansas’ Mixed Race Couple’s Home

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Hate never seems to go out of style.

A federal grand jury in Arkansas  indicted five state residents for their alleged role in the Molotov cocktail  fire bombing of a mixed-race couple’s trailer  near Hardy, Ark. in January, authorities announced Thursday. No one was injured.

Those indicted on civil rights and other charges included: Jason Barnwell, 37, of Evening Shade, Ark.; Gary Dodson, 32, of Waldron, Ark.; Jake Murphy, 19, also of Waldron; and Dustin Hammond, 20, of Hardy, Ark.  Wendy Treybig, 31, of Evening Shade, Ark., was indicted for obstruction of justice for her role in trying to cover up the incident.

Authorities said the couple was also barraged with racial slurs and threatened with future violence if failed to leave the state.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Va. ATF Agent Charged With Stealing Guns and Cigarettes From ATF


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — ATF agent Clifford Dean Posey finds himself in big big trouble.

A grand jury in Virginia  charged Posey with 20 counts that included allegations that he stole  guns and cigarettes from ATF and sold them, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Wednesday, the day indictment was unsealed.

Authorities alleged that beginning in 2007, Posey, 43, of Chesapeake, Va. started falsifying documents “relating to firearms under his custody and control in order to embezzle and convert them to his own use.” On one occasion, authorities alleged, he advertised to sell those guns.

The indictment also alleged that Posey falsely submitted receipt and release reports to the ATF regarding firearms claiming that several stolen firearms had been returned to the rightful owners or destroyed, when in fact he had them.

Additionally, beginning in July 2010, while the lead case agent in a probe of illegal cigarette trafficking, Posey sold cigarettes in ATF custody and kept the money, authorities alleged.

So Much for Security Clearance; Background Checks Were Falsified

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — So much for secure security clearances.

Catherine G. Webb, 47, who worked as Special Agent of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), pled guilty Wednesday in Washington federal court to falsifying work on background investigations for agencies trying to determine if people were fit for jobs that would give them access to classified information, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. said.

Authorities say Webb admitted that she falsified work on background investigations of federal employees and contractors between March 2009 and March 2010 in more than a dozen reports.

Webb lied when she indicated that she had interviewed a source or reviewed a record involving the subject of the background investigation when she in fact had not, authorities said.

The background checks were conducted for agencies trying to determine if these people were fit for jobs that would give them access to classified information “for positions impacting national security, or for receiving or retaining security clearances.”

Her deception has prompted OPM’s Federal Investigative Services to redo numerous background investigations, authorities said.

Authorities said Webb was among a number of people prosecuted by the D.C. U.S. Attorney in the last three years involving false representations by background investigators and record checkers working on federal background investigations. Seven background investigators and two record checkers previously were convicted of charges, authorities said.

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