Site Search

Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

July 2011


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for July, 2011

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Cleveland Mob

Suspended Philly Fed Prosecutor Says Government’s Initial Allegations Weren’t Accurate

Ex-U.S. Atty. Laurie Magid

By Allan Lengel

Philly federal prosecutor Laurie Magid, who was recently given a 100-day suspension without pay, is pushing back, saying the allegations initially lodged by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) simply weren’t accurate.

In fact, in a press release Magid says the Office of Special Counsel has admitted for the first time that she “did not solicit her colleagues to attend two fundraisers hosted by her husband, and has acknowledged that there was nothing illegal or improper about his hosting the fundraisers.” The fundraisers were for Sen. Arlen Specter and gubernatorial candidate Patrick Meehan, the former Philly U.S. Attorney.

“The government has completely abandoned its original allegation of solicitation, and has admitted that Ms. Magid asked for OSC’s advice before the fundraisers and that the OSC told her that her husband could hold fundraisers,” Magid’s press release said

Magid was the first assistant U.S. Attorney from summer 2005 until July 2008 when she became acting U.S. Attorney. From February 2009 to May 2009 she was the interim U.S. Attorney and then was replaced. She is currently an Assistant U.S. Attorney, who focuses primarily on white collar probes into healthcare and other frauds.

Magid’s press release went on to say: “The settlement, in which Ms. Magid acknowledges three minor and inadvertent violations, resolves the entire matter concerning events from 2007 to early 2009,” the release said. It said she plans to continue serving as a fed prosecutor after the suspension.

Earlier this year, months before the final settlement, the  Office of Special Counsel alleged that Magid was improperly involved in the fundraisers and that “at least one one AUSA expressed concern that he felt pressure to attend this political fundraiser,” the document said.

In early 2009, the husband threw a fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Patrick Meehan, the former U.S. Attorney, who eventually decided to run for Congress. Magid helped her husband with the invite list, which included 35 of her subordinate employees. Of those, about 18 got the invitations at their official U.S. Attorney address, the document said.

“When invitations were received, performance evaluations were in progress,” the government alleged at the time. “Several of respondent’s subordinate employees expressed concerns that they felt pressure to attend this political fundraiser or make a financial contribution.”

But the  final  “settlement agreement” issued by the Office of Special Counsel, said that Magid consulted with the OSC, which advised her that her husband could throw a fundraiser for Sen. Specter and she could attend. It also said Magid could not solicit, accept or receive any contribution.

In the agreement, she admitted receiving from a subordinate employee who could not attend the fundraiser, a $200 contribution check while they were in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Then prior to a fundraiser at her home for Patrick Meehan, the former U.S. Attorney for Philly, she accepted, without solicitation, a $250 political contribution from a subordinate employee while in the federal building. The settlement said the contribution came from an assistant U.S. Attorney who was a close friend of Magid and that friend left the check in her office in her absence.

The document also said that on Dec. 6 and 11 of 2008, she sent an email to a subordinate support staff, while on duty, requesting an “alum” list to provide to her husband for the invitation list to the Meehan fundraiser.

The government document concluded that the activities violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits  accepting or receiving political contributions or engaging in political activities while on duty or in a federal building.

Her press release stated: “Cotrary to the inflamatory allegations previously leaked to  and reported in earlier, erroneous press accounts of the investigation, there was nothing improper about Ms. Magid’s participating in the fundraisers or in her husband’s hosting them.”

As for requesting the alum list, the press release stated: “The list contained information that was available in legal directories. Ms. Magid requested the list by asking a staff person to email it to her because she was permitted, according to OSC guidance, and the law, to compile names for fundraising events.”

Meanwhile, the publication Politico said the Office of Special Counsel signaled that it wasn’t happy with the punishment for Magid, indicating it may have been too tough.

“This case is an example of why we are encouraging Congress to take a closer look at the Hatch Act, including it’s overly restrictive penalties,” OSC spokesman Darshan Sheth told Politico. “OSC applies the statute as it is currently written. We look forward to working with Congress to reform the Hatch Act to avoid any unintended consequences of the Act.”

Politico indicated that the new special counsel Carolyn Lerner, who was sworn in on June 17, and was not around when the Magid investigation was in full swing, would emphasize education over enforcement.

When asked by Friday to comment, Sheth referred to the comments made in Politico.

Shakeups at Justice Dept. and FBI

By Allan Lengel

Shakeups over at the FBI and Justice Department.

John Carlin, currently Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, is joining the leadership team at the Justice Department’s National Security Division as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Chief of Staff. He’s being replaced at the FBI by Aaron Zebley.

Anita Singh will be joining the leadership team of the Justice Department’s National Security Division as Deputy Chief of Staff and Counsel.

Signh is currently on detail from the Justice Department’s Criminal Division to the White House’s National Security Staff as a Director for Intelligence Programs.

And finally, Donald Vieira, who has served as Chief of Staff at the Justice Department’s National Security Division since March 2009, will soon be leaving the Department to join the partnership of the national law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, the Justice Department said.

FBI Director Mueller Picks Aaron Zebley as New Chief of Staff

Aaron Zebley/uv law school photo

By Allan Lengel

The FBI’s Aaron M. Zebley is movin on up.

The website Main Justice reports that FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III has promoted Zebley to his chief of staff. Zebley, an agent and a former federal prosecutor, had been the deputy chief of staff.

Zebley will replace John P. Carlin, who has been named principle assistant deputy attorney general in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Main Justice reported.

Zebley was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Alexandria, Va., National Security and Terrorism Unit.

From January 1998 to April 2005, he was a Special Agent with the FBI in the New York City Field Office, and was assigned to counterterrosim investigations.

He was one of the lead investigators assigned to August 7, 1998 bombing of United States Embassy in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and was designated as the case agent in the terrorism case involving Zacarias Moussaoui, according to a bio on the website of the University of Virginia Law School.

Ohio Man Who Pointed Gun at FBI Agent Gets 21 Years

By Allan Lengel

Among the dumb things to do in life, pointing a gun at an FBI agent is up there.

Ask Demond R. Johnigan, 19, of Dayton, Ohio.

Johnigan was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Ohio to 21 years in prison for, among other things, pointing a gun at an FBI agent who was trying to arrest him after a kidnapping in December, authorities said.

He had pleaded guilty on April 21 to one count each of kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

Authorities said last Dec. 16 Johnigan and Jakova James-Sims, 19, of Dayton, went to the parking lot of Roosevelt Recreation Center in Montgomery County, Ohio and approached a victim, who was standing near his Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

Johnigan pointed a gun at the victim and demanded money.  Then James-Sims patted down the victim, looking for cash and  other valuables.

The men then forced the victim into the backseat of his own car, continued to demand cash, and continued to threaten to injure him if he didn’t cough up the goods.

Shortly after leaving the parking lot with the victim and the victim’s car, Johnigan and James-Sims noticed an SUV was following them. They proceeded to park the car and fled by foot down an alley, authorities said.

As he fled down an alley, Johnigan raised his firearm and pointed it at the approaching SUV, which was being driven by an FBI agent who was following after observing the carjacking, authorities said.

The FBI agent put the vehicle in reverse and backed out of the alley and called for assistance. The two suspects were apprehended after a brief foot chase.

Charges against James-Sims are pending.

Gambino Crime Family Has a New Boss

By Allan Lengel

The Gambino Crime Family has a new boss — Domenico (Italian Dom) Cefalu, marking a clear end to the Gotti era, Gang Land News reported.

Mob expert Jerry Capeci of Gang Land News writes:

“In a surprise move, the Gambinos have gone back to the old-fashioned way of running a crime family. They have selected a boss who is not in prison. He is a convicted drug trafficker with a well-earned reputation as a stand-up wiseguy who would never flip.”

Gang Land New reports that Cefalu, 64, of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, came into the family during the Gotti reign. Many of the key Gotti folks are behind bars.

Cefalu’s rap sheet includes six years in prison for a 1982 heroin smuggling conviction, and 20 months in the joint for a 2008 extortion rap. He is a salesman for a local bakery.

Arizona Border Patrol Station to be Named After Slain Agent Brian Terry

Brian Terry

By Allan Lengel

The Border Patrol station in Bisbee, Ariz. will be renamed after agent Brian Terry, who was shot to death last December.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, introduced the bill in the House this week.

“Our nation’s Border Patrol agents have a distinguished history of working to protect our borders,” Issa said in a statement. “Agent Terry, who served our nation through his military service and his career with the Border Patrol, gave his life defending this country. Naming the Bisbee station in his honor recognizes his sacrifice, service and heroism.”

“In the past half-century, 70 U.S. Border Patrol agents – including Agent Terry – have been killed while protecting our nation,” added Pia Carusone, chief of staff for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), whose office worked with Issa on the legislation.

Terry’s family issued a statement, saying, “From the very start, Brian loved his job as a Border Patrol agent and loved his fellow agents. The new Naco Station named in Brian’s honor will serve as a lasting memory for all those who knew Brian.”

Terry became a central figure in the investigation into the controversial ATF operation known as Fast and Furious. Under the program, ATF encouraged gun dealers to sell to middlemen or straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. Some of those guns showed up at crime scenes on both sides of the border.

In December, Terry was shot and killed while on patrol 14 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border near Rio Rico, Ariz. after getting into an armed confrontation. Two guns from Operation Fast and Furious were found at the scene.

Judge Blocks Justice Dept. From Correcting Statement About Anthrax Suspect

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel

A federal judge temporarily blocked the Justice Department from correcting a court filing that undercut the FBI’s conclusion that Army researcher Bruce Ivins was responsible for the anthrax letter attacks in 2001, PBS Frontline, McClatchy and ProPublica reported in a joint story.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley of West Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday issued a written order saying the government must “show good cause” before allowing Justice to amend the court filing.

The filing was part of a lawsuit filed by the wife of a National Enquirer photo editor Robert Stevens, claiming the government failed to do enough to protect people from an anthrax attack.

Monday’s court order  appeared more procedural than substantive.

The government in the original filing said that Ivins did not have access in the lab to the special equipment needed to make the deadly powder, the publications reported.

The Justice Department wants to correct that to say Ivin did in fact have access to the equipment at U.S. Army bio-weapons facility in Frederick, Md., where he worked.