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June 2011


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for June, 2011

House Votes to Slash TSA Budget by $270 Million; Critics Say it Could Threaten Airline Safety

file photo

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — At a time of heightened concern about aviation security, the Republican-controlled House gave the nod Thursday to legislation that would cut funding for the Transportation Security Administration by $270 million, the Washington Post’s Joe Davidson reported.

“At a time when intelligence tells us that terrorists remain interested in attacking transportation, this amendment would cut TSA’s screening workforce by more than 10 percent,” about 5,000 people, TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee said according to the Post.

Union leaders hope the Senate rejects the move, the Post reported. The House vote was 219 to 204.

The Post reported that in a letter to House members before the vote, Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said the budget cut would “damage the traveling safety of the public and hurt Transportation Security Officers’ ability to do their jobs.”

Tough Az. Sheriff Joe Bows to Justice Department

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON – Score: Justice Department 1, Maricopa County, Az.,  Sheriff Joe Arpaio 0.

Sheriff Joe and his department, after much resistance, entered into a legal settlement Thursday to fully cooperate with the Justice Department, which is investigating allegations of civil rights violations involving patrols and jail operations.

In announcing the settlement, the Justice Department said that the sheriff’s department had already allowed it to conduct more than 220 interviews and review hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. It also conducted interviews with Sheriff Arpaio. The investigation is ongoing.

The Justice Department has been investigating allegations of discrimination on patrols and in jail and unconstitutional searches and seizures.

Last Sept. 2, the Justice Department said it filed a lawsuit to get access to information “after exhausting all cooperative measures to gain access” to documents and facilities.

“After numerous requests for access to information, the department was forced to resort to litigation to compel the sheriff’s office to provide us with full access to facilities, staff and documents, as required by federal law,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division said in a statement.

“We are pleased that since the filing of our lawsuit, the sheriff’s office has reversed course and provided the department with information we have been seeking.”


Jury Gives Life Instead of Death to Mobster “Vinny Gorgeous” Who Allegedly Plotted to Kill Fed Prosecutor

By Allan Lengel

A Brooklyn federal jury on Wednesday chose life — in prison that is —  over death for one-time acting Bonanno crime family boss Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, who was accused by a fellow wiseguy during the death penalty phase of his trial of  plotting to kill a federal prosecutor in 2004.

The New York Times reported that the jury passed on giving Basciano the death penalty after deliberating for less than 2 hours on Wednesday. Instead, he will serve a life sentence without parole for ordering the murder of Bonanno associate Randolph Pizzolo.  He was not prosecuted for allegedly plotting to kill a federal prosecutor.

The juror apparently agreed with the defense argument during the death penalty phase that there were other mobsters who had committed crimes that were equal or worse,  and they were not facing the death penalty, the Times reported.

The case became notable for a few reasons, one being that Bonanno crime boss Joseph C. Massino, testified against Basciano, marking the first time a  boss of one of the New York Crime families had testified  for the government.

Secondly, during the death penalty phase, ex-mobster Dominick Cicale testified that Basciano plotted to kill a mob-busting federal prosecutor Greg Andres at an upper East Side Italian restaurant over an issue of disrespect.

Cicale testified that a private eye passed on a message to Basciano in the spring of 2004 from then-Bonanno boss Joseph Massino, who was in prison.

“Joe Massino wanted to let Vinny know the prosecutor was disrespectful … and the prosecutor ate at Campagnola’s every Thursday night,” Cicale testified. Basciano never carried out the murder.

Secret Service Agent to Run for U.S. Senate in Md

Daniel Bongino

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Daniel Bongino, a 36-year-old U.S. Secret Service agent, who has worked protective details for President Obama and George W. Bush, has turned in his badge and gun to run as a Republican for U.S. Senate in Maryland against Democrat Ben Cardin.

Bongino, who worked as a New York cop for four years before joining the Secret Service in 1999, resigned last month from the Baltimore field office.

Bongino told that he would focus on the education and the economy in his campaign.

“You can’t have a solid economy without a solid educational system,” he said.

He said his years as a Secret Service agent, which included presidential protective details and wide-scale fraud investigations, has helped groom him for his latest venture.

He said the Secret Service has given him great leadership skills.

“Having  someone’s life in your hands with that kind of profile, there is really no greater responsibility in law enforcement,” he said.

In a press release, he stated: “In my career, I’ve seen the effects of failed policies on citizens in our inner cities. I’ve had the honor of traveling to 27 countries with the Secret Service.”

“And the common theme in every country is a line around the block at the US Embassy. America is an extraordinary place. But our citizens must be given a chance to compete in the world economy. It is an ideas economy, and we know what works and what doesn’t. This is an ‘open-book’ test, but politicians insist on trying systems that either have already failed in other countries, or are in the process of failing.”

Bongino has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Psychology and an MBA. He lives in Severna Park, Md., with his wife, Paula, and their daughter, Isabel.

U.S. Atty. Holding to Stay on the Job Until John Edwards Case Resolved

U.S. Atty. George Holding

By Allan Lengel

George E.B. Holding’s remaining time as U.S. Attorney in Raleigh, N.C.,  hinges on what happens to ex-Sen. John Edwards.

The Raleigh News & Observer reports that Holding, appointed by President Bush in 2006, will be replaced at the conclusion of the case against Edwards, 57, who is expected to get indicted (possibly as soon as this week) or arrange a plea agreement on violations of campaign finance laws involving the cover up of an extra-marital affair.

North Carolina’s two senators had agreed to leave Holding in the post until the conclusion of the case to avoid accusations of politics and any attempt to slow the probe.

President Obama has nominated Thomas Walker of Charlotte to be the new U.S. Attorney. He has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.

Judge Orders Feds to Turn Over FBI Recorder and Failed Battery in Portland Terrorism Case

Mohamed Mohamud

By Allan Lengel

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Portland prosecutors in the 2010 attempted bombing of a Christmas tree lighting ceremony to hand over a  faulty FBI battery and recording device used in the case, The Oregonian newspaper reported.

The prosecution said it already had turned over 6,000 pages of documents.

The defense team for  Mohamed Mohamud,  the Somali-American teenager, claims its client was entrapped by the FBI in a sting.  The defense claims he was coaxed into the plot.

The defense is focusing on the recorder and the battery that failed to record a key meeting last July 30 when Mohamud allegedly brought up taking part in the bombing with an FBI operative posing as an Islamic terrorist, the Oregonian reported.  The failure could give the defense more wiggle room to interpret the conversation without the recording.

The Oregonian reported that prosecutors said the recorder failed because the battery had died before the meeting.  FBI agents did, however, listen to the tape and later write up a  report on what they heard, the paper reported.

Mohamud’s lawyer Stephen R. Sady told the judge he wanted an expert to examine the recorder and battery.

To read more click here.

Ky. FBI Agent Who Headed Up Major Corruption Case Dies of Heart Attack While Jogging

By Allan Lengel

A 46-year-old FBI agent, who headed a major corruption probe in Clay County, Ky., died Tuesday from an apparent heart attack while jogging, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

The paper reported that Timothy S. Briggs, 46, who had been an agent since 1997, suffered the heart attack while jogging with another agent Tuesday near the FBI office in London, Ky.

The paper reported that the agent who was jogging with Briggs and another person, and later emergency personnel and doctors, tried CPR on Briggs, but to no avail.

“He had a tenacity about him that not a lot of investigators have,” fellow agent Greg Cox told the paper. “He would never let go.”

The paper reported that Briggs headed up a corruption probe in Clay County that started with a drug investigation and snow balled into a case involving vote-buying and other public corruption. More than 60 people were convicted.

No Surprise Here; Blago Testimony Angers Judge

By Allan Lengel

If you figured the testimony of ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich at his retrial on corruption charges in downtown Chicago would be filled with shenanigans and piss off the judge, well…. you guessed right.

First off, the U.S. District Judge James Zagel on Wednesday got angry after Blago tried “smuggling” in evidence that had been barred. One example: Blagojevich suggested to jurors that the government had deleted portions of recorded calls that were favorable to him, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“This is a deliberate effort by this witness to raise something that he can’t raise, to say something that was good was eliminated,” Zagel said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “This is not fair. This is a repeated example of a defendant who wants to say something, by smuggling [it] in.”

“Do you understand what I have just said?” an irritated Zagel asked the defense. “Is that clear?”

Later, outside the presence of the jury, the judge berated defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein, accusing him of using stall tactics so prosecutors couldn’t cross exam Blago til next week, the Sun-Times reported.

“It’s a source of real concern,” the judge said. “I am not uncertain in my conclusion that you are running the clock.”

Zagel said he would give the prosecution the option of questioning Blago on Thursday regardless of when the defense concluded its direct examination, the Sun-Times reported.