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Archive for April, 2011

Head of FBI’s Roanoke Office to Work For Va. Tech


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Kevin Foust, head of the Roanoke, Va. FBI office, is a little nervous.

After a quarter century with the FBI, Foust, 50, is leaving to become deputy chief of Virginia Tech’s police department, according to the Roanoke Times.

His $80,000 a year job will be to assess security for the university across Virginia and overseas, the paper reported. The university faced tragedy four years ago when a gunman opened fire, killing  32 and wounded many others.

“I’m very nervous about going down there because it’s something I’ve never done before,” Foust told the Roanoke Times.  “I pray that they’re patient.”

Justice Dept.’s Public Integrity Section Could Be Screwing Up Another Public Corruption Case in Ala.


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section which blew the case against Sen. Ted Stevens, may be screwing up a big public corruption case in Montgomery, Ala. Both cases involve allegations of withholding evidence from the defense.

The Associated Press reports that an angry U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel Jr. is fed up and said at a pretrial hearing on Friday that he may impose sanctions against the government for repeatedly failing to hand over all  the documents pertaining to FBI wiretaps in a gambling case involving alleged payoffs to politicians to pass legislation.

“This is supposed to be some elite group coming down from D.C., and how this case has been conducted is ridiculous,” the judge said at a pretrial hearing, according to AP. The trial is set for June 6.

The judge did not say what sanctions he might impose, but the defense is asking that the judge toss the case because the  government failed to share certain documents.

AP reported that Casino owners Milton McGregor and Ronnie Gilley, four present and former legislators, and four others are charged with buying and selling votes on legislation. The votes would have kept opened Gilley’s and McGregor’s shuttered electronic bingo casinos.

Prosecutor Steve Feaga said in court, according to AP: “In the course of this case, there have been some mistakes made by the government.”

But AP reported that Feaga said the mistakes were unintentional, such as handing over computer disc without the passwords to access data.

The government has conceded that it has made mistakes, but they weren’t intentional, AP said.

The Public Integrity Section convicted then-U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens in Oct. 27, 2008 of public corruption charges shortly before his re-election. Stevens lost the election, but the Justice Department subsequently  moved to vacate conviction because its Office of Public Integrity failed to turn over evidence to the defense.

Six Decades Later, FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List Still Tough to Crack

Osama bin Laden

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — In the film “Take the Money and Run,” Woody Allen played a bumbling, publicity-starved petty criminal named Virgil Starkwell. “You know he never made the Ten Most Wanted list,” Starkwell’s wife, Louise, lamented in the 1969 comedy. “It’s very unfair voting. It’s who you know.”

As Allen’s fictitious character learned, getting on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list is no easy feat. Just being a vicious criminal or a menace to society isn’t always enough.

For one, there has to be an opening. And then there’s the selection process: A committee at FBI headquarters reviews dozens of candidates from FBI field offices — there are 56 in all — before the top brass weighs in with a final decision.

Boston Mobster Whitey Bulger

“I’d be lying to say there’s no politics involved” in getting someone on the list, Tony Riggio, a former FBI agent and official, told AOL News.

To read full story click here.

A Big Goof By the Feds Resulted in Mobster’s Murder, Gang Land News Reports


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A goof by federal law enforcement resulted in the murder of Genovese family mobster Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno in 2003, Gang Land News reports.

The website on the Mafia reported that a federal probation officer mentioned in a pre-sentence report to a Massachusetts federal judge that Bruno, who ran the Springfield, Mass. rackets for the crime family,  had cooperated with the FBI. The pre-sentence report was for mobster Emilio Fusco.

When Fusco,  who is entitled to see the report, read the passage about Bruno snitching, he told other mobsters, Gang Land reported. Eventually, then-acting mob boss Arthur (The Little Guy) Nigro put a hit out on Bruno, one mobster testified in court.

The information about the pre-sentence report surfaced in an a federal trial for  Nigro and two associates,  Fotios Geas and Ty Geas. All three were convicted Friday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in Bruno’s murder and other crimes.

Gang Land quoted a former fed prosecutor as saying: “Obviously, Bruno’s name should not have been in the (pre-sentence report) as the source of the information. It’s like putting a bulls-eye on the guy’s chest.”

Gang Land reported that another former law enforcement source said: “To me, it looks like everyone messed up. The agent shouldn’t have given Bruno’s name to the prosecutor; the prosecutor shouldn’t have repeated it to the probation department, and the probation officer shouldn’t have included it in his report.”

Gangland reported that the FBI declined comment.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Weekend Series on Crime History: Mobster Bugsy Siegel and Las Vegas

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTmQ3tk6_vU

Justice Dept. “Surprised and Disappointed” With Subpoena Issued for ATF

atf file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — No surprise, politics is surfacing inside the beltway.

The Justice Department on Friday expressed disappointment in a Congressional committee which issued a subpoena for documents from ATF on a controversial gun program,  saying it had already told the committee it planned to cooperate.

“We  are therefore surprised and disappointed when shortly after we notified your staff of our intent to work with the Committee, you nevertheless issued a subpoena a few hours later,” the Justice Department wrote Friday to the committee chair Rep. Darrell Issa. ”  Despite this unnecessary step on your part, we will review the subpoena and work with the Committee to address your concerns.”

The Justice Dept. response came on the same day  Issa, chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, announced he had issued a subpoena to ATF after the agency failed to a meet the Wednesday deadline to handover documents pertaining to the gun-walking programs Operation Gunrunner and its offshoot, Operation Fast and Furious.

Operation Fast and Furious let straw purchasers buy guns, all with the hopes that ATF could trace them to the Mexican cartels. Unfortunately, some of the guns have been used in crimes.

The letter, written by Assistant Atty. Gen. Ronald Weich, also stated:

“As you know the Department has been working with the Committee to provide documents responsive to its March 16 request to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Yesterday, we informed Committee staff that we intended to produce a number of responsive documents with the next week.

“As we explained, there are some documents  that we would be unable to provide without compromising the Department’s ongoing criminal investigation into the death of agent Brian Terry as well as other investigations and prosecutions, but we would seek to work productively with the Committee to find other ways to be responsive to its needs.”

Senator Chuck Grassley, who has been pushing the issue and has been critical of ATF, issued a statement on Friday saying:

“According to more than a dozen whistleblowers from the ATF, the bureau knowingly has allowed assault weapons to be sold to these so-called straw buyers, individuals who illegally purchase firearms in the U.S. and then transport the weapons across the border to resell them to Mexican drug cartels. The ATF officials say the practice was intended to trap gun-smuggling networks operating along the southwest border who supply the violent drug –trafficking cartels in Mexico.”

“The agents warned that the practice was headed for disaster. And, their prophecy came true. Instead of intercepting the assault rifles and hand-pistols, the firearms allegedly were allowed to “walk” across the border, without U.S. interdiction, delivering thousands of guns into violent, drug networks in Mexico.

“Tragically, those who might have given the green light to the ill-conceived strategy may now have the blood of U.S. federal agents on their hands.”

“In December, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered in a shoot-out along the southwest border near Tucson, Arizona. Two AK-47 type assault rifles found at the scene were among the firearms purchased illegally under an operation known as “Fast and Furious.” The murder of another federal agent in February also may have ties to this practice. Special Agent Jaime Zapata of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was attacked and killed, with a gun purchased by an alleged straw buyer, while on assignment in Mexico.”

Rep. Issa Explains Why He Issued a Subpoena

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36E8WTZRgNo

Rep. Issa Subpoenas Documents From ATF in Controversial Gun-Walking Program

Rep. Issa/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A show down on Capitol Hill seems to be getting closer.

The head of the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform announced Friday morning that he was issuing a subpoena to ATF to force it to turn over documents relating to a controversial gun program “Project Gunrunner” and its offshoot “Project Fast and Furious.”

The subpoena, announced by committee chair Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), comes in response to ATF’s failure to comply with a request by the committee to turn over the materials. The deadline was Wednesday. The deadline to comply with the subpoena is April 13.

“The unwillingness of this Administration – most specifically the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms – to answer questions about this deadly serious matter is deeply troubling,” Issa said in a statement.

“Allegations surrounding this program are serious and the ability of the Justice Department to conduct an impartial investigation is in question. Congressional oversight is necessary to get the truth about what is really happening.”

Drew Wade, an ATF spokesman, said Friday morning shortly before the subpoena was announced: “We aren’t going to discuss matters of ongoing investigations. He could not immediately be reached for a follow up comment.

The controversy centers on a an ATF program that allowed straw purchasers to buy guns — all with the hopes of tracing them to the Mexican cartels. Some guns have been used in crimes.

A press release issued Friday morning by the committee stated:

“On March 16, 2011, Chairman Issa wrote a letter to Acting Director Kenneth Melson of the ATF requesting specific documents related to Project Gunrunner, its “Fast and Furious” component, and records related to the death of Border Agent Brian Terry. ATF failed to meet the March 30th deadline for producing these documents and furthermore refused to voluntarily commit to any date for producing them. ”

“Media reports have raised questions about the handling of operations involving gun trafficking into Mexico – specifically the allegation that ATF has had a policy of permitting – and even encouraging – the movement of guns into Mexico by straw purchasers.

“This practice may have contributed to the deaths of hundreds on both sides of the border, including federal law enforcement agents. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who has also been pursuing the matter, recently stated, ‘I’m still asking questions and we’re still getting the runaround from the Justice Department, [t]hey’re stonewalling.’”

“President Obama recently stated that neither he nor Attorney General Holder authorized this operation. His statement did not specify whether Attorney General Holder was aware of this policy or who did authorize it. The Committee’s investigation seeks answers to these questions and the true nature of Project Gunrunner.”

The subpoena requests the following documents, according to the press release:

1. Documents and communications relating to the genesis of Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious, and any memoranda or reports involving any changes to either program at or near the time of the release of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General report about Project Gunrunner in November 2010.

Read more »

Cleaning Up Madoff Mess Costing Millions of $$$$$$$$$$

Bernie Madoff

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Like many wild parties, once they’re over, the clean up can be a bear.  Well, the party has long been over for Madoff and the very expensive clean up is underway. And it ain’t close to being  over.

The Washington Post’s David Hilzenrath reports that the clean up  has “unleashed a gusher of cash” for lawyers, accountants and consultants.

The Post reports that the clean up costs last year came to $288 million, and it is likely to grow by $1.1 billion in the coming years.

The Post reports that the money comes from a small, government-sponsored nonprofit organization called the Securities Investor Protection Corp. (SIPC), “which manages the liquidation of failed brokerage firms in much the same way the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. backstops failed banks.”

To read more click here.