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July 2011


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for July, 2011

Ex-U.S. Atty. Who Indicted Bulger in 1995 Shows Up for Not Guilty Plea

Updated Bulger photo/wbur

By Allan Lengel

An eclectic mix of folks showed up Wednesday in federal court in Boston to see  James “Whitey” Bulger including former U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern, who insisted on indicting the Boston mobster in 1995 even after the FBI warned him that Bulger was an informant, the Boston Globe reported.

“I couldn’t miss it,’’ Stern said, according to the Globe. “I wasn’t sure this day would come, but here it is, and I’m looking forward to the trial.”

Other folks who appeared at his arraignment included relatives of the victims of Bulger, who is charged in 19 murders. He pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

The Globe reported that Bulger’s brother William M., former president of the Massachusetts Senate, and John, were seated in the front row.

To read the full story click here.

It’s Off to Prison for Smuggler of Lizards

Gecko/dept. of conservation

By Allan Lengel

It’s not the crime of the century.

Nonetheless, it’s prison time for Michael Plank, 42, of Lomita, Calif., who was sentenced Wednesday in Los Angeles federal court to 15 months behind bars for smuggling 15 lizards from Australia into the United States.

Essentially, he got one month in prison for every lizard.

Plank had pleaded guilty to smuggling two Geckos, two Monitor lizards and 11 Skink lizards from Australia in November 2009. He tried to pass through Customs at Los Angeles International Airport with the lizards in his money belts.

Federal law prohibits the importation of wildlife from another country without a permit. The animals must also be declared in the U.S. at the first point of entry.

“This sentence of 15 months in federal prison sends a strong message to both wildlife smugglers and would-be wildlife smugglers that the illegal trafficking in wildlife is a serious crime that will result in significant prison time for those who engage in thisdespicable activity,” U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said in a statement.


ATF Ken Melson Sings to Congressional Investigators Over the 4th — Accuses Justice Dept. of Interfering With Congressional Probe

Ken Melson/atf photo

By Allan Lengel

Ken Melson, acting head of ATF, apparently was singing to Congressional investigators over the 4th of July weekend — and apparently not the Star Spangled Banner.

Fox News reported that Melson told Congressional investigators  that the Justice Department was interfering with the Congressional probe into the controversial program Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged gun dealers to sell to middlemen or “straw purchasers”, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican Cartels.

Fox News reported that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif), who has doggedly been investigating the operation, said in a letter to Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr: “If his account is accurate, then ATF leadership appears to have been effectively muzzled while the DOJ sent over false denials and buried its head in the sand. That approach distorted the truth and obstructed our investigation.”

John Solomon of The Daily Beast reported that Melson  gave a deposition and  talked about the potential lapses in the program that encouraged gun dealers to sell weapons to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing them to the Mexican cartels.

The Daily Beast repored:

“During hours of questioning, Melson told investigators for the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he has recently learned that other federal agencies may have withheld crucial information about possible drug cartel connections to the gun trafficking ring that his agency had tried to crack during a 15-month operation that used controversial tactics, the sources said.”

Terrorist Suspect Held Aboard U.S. Navy Ship for 2 Months and Interrogated

By Allan Lengel

A Somali militant with ties to al Qaeda was interrogated aboard a U.S. Navy ship for two months by a High Value Interrogation team that included FBI agents, the LA Times reported.

The Times noted that it was the first time the Obama administration detained a terrorism suspect outside of the criminal justice system.

Senior administration officials revealed the case Tuesday against Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame after his indictment was unsealed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. He was turned over to the FBI after the interrogation aboard the ship.

Authorities charged him with working to broker a weapons deal a weapons deal between Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen and the Somali militant group Shabab.

The Times reported that authorities alleged that he fought on Shabab’s behalf in Somalia in 2009, then went to Yemen in 2010 for explosives training and took part in terrorist activities there.

A press release out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said Warsame was seized April 19 by U.S. forces in international waters while traveling between Yemen and Somalia. The Times reported that he had been identified by U.S. intelligence as an important target.

While aboard the ship he was “humanely” interrogated by a High-Value Interrogation Group, which consists of FBI, CIA and Defense Department personnel, officials said, according to the Times.

One U.S. official said the CIA did not actually get involved in direct questioning, the result of controversies during the Bush years.

“This defendant is charged not only with providing material support to two notorious terrorist organizations, but with using automatic weapons and explosives to commit violence in the name of their ’cause,’” said Janice K. Fedarcyk, head of the New York FBI, in  a statement.

Computer Geeks Continue to Wreak Havoc

By Allan Lengel
Computer geeks are wreaking so much havoc we may soon have to have prison just for geeks.

The latest: The FBI has busted Jason Cornish, 37, of Smyrna, Ga., with hacking into a New Jersey pharmaceutical company’s computer network and shutting down operations, resulting in losses of at least $300,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.

“The computers on which companies do business are the engines of the 21st century economy,” Newark U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said late last week. “Malicious intrusions are against the law, regardless of motive. Hacking attacks devised as personal revenge can have serious repercussions for perpetrators as well as victims.”

“In this instance, Jason Cornish allegedly was able to inflict great damage to Shionogi, Inc., with the stroke of a few computer keys,” added Michael Ward, head of the Newark FBI.

Authorities said Cornish was an information technology employee at Shionogi, Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese pharmaceutical company with operations in New Jersey and Georgia.

In late September 2010, shortly after Cornish had resigned from Shionogi, the company announced layoffs that would affect a close friend and former supervisor, authorities said.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 3, Cornish gained unauthorized access to Shionogi’s computer network and took control of a piece of software that he had secretly installed on the server several weeks earlier.

Cornish then used the secretly installed software program to delete the contents of each of 15 “virtual hosts” on Shionogi’s computer network, authorities said.

The 15 virtual hosts housed the equivalent of 88 different computer servers.

The deleted servers housed most of Shionogi’s American computer infrastructure, including the company’s e mail and Blackberry servers, its order tracking system, and its financial management software, authorities said.

The attack effectively froze Shionogi’s operations for a number of days, leaving company employees unable to ship product, cut checks, or communicate by e-mail, authorities said.

Column: Agents Continue to Have “No Confidence” in ICE Chief John Morton

Janice Kephart is the Director of National Security Policy at the Center for Immigration Studies.

Janice Kephart

Janice Kephart
Security DeBrief

On June 23, 2011, a press release was issued by the union representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees stating that ICE “Union leaders around the nation issued a unanimous no confidence vote in ICE Director John Morton on behalf of ICE officers, agents and employees nationwide citing gross mismanagement within the Agency as well as efforts within ICE to create backdoor amnesty through agency policy. ICE Union leaders say that since the no confidence vote was released problems within the Agency have increased [emphasis added].” The full Union release is in my colleague Jon Feere’s blog.

Last year, I began a series entitled “ICE’s Mission Melt” that provided evidence of exactly why ICE agents are complaining at an unprecedented high volume about ICE leadership undermining not only their ability to do their job, but their job security if they try to do their job.

In June 2010, I made public an unreleased memo providing detail of ICE Union employees being kept from enforcing immigration law. The memo even spoke of unsafe policies that, “prevented [ICE officers] from searching detainees housed in ICE facilities allowing weapons, drugs and other contraband into detention centers putting detainees, ICE officers and contract guards at risk.”

This time PR Newswire carried the ICE Union’s strong statements. The basis for the second no confidence vote in a year by the union was another memo by ICE director John Morton, this time on prosecutorial discretion.

To read full column click here.

FBI Busts St. Pete Cop For Shaking Down Informant

By Allan Lengel

The FBI has busted a St. Petersburg, Fla. police detective for shaking down an informant in exchange for helping him get  lenient treatment in some criminal matters, the Tampa Bay Tribune reported.

A federal grand jury in Tampa handed down a seven-count indictment on Tuesday against Anthony  Foster, 39, who allegedly demanded cash, a flat-screen television set, Nike sneakers for him and his children, clothes,groceries purchased by the informant with food stamps.

He also repeatedly demanded that the informant buy him a used motorcycle or give him cash to buy one, the paper reported.


FBI Agent Robert Foley to Head Up Administrative Division at Washington Field Office

Robert Foley/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel

Robert Foley is leaving FBI headquarters to move several blocks away to the Washington Field Office where he’ll become special agent in charge of the Administrative Division.

Foley, who most recently served as section chief of the Employee Development and Selection Program, Human Resources Division at headquarters, joined the FBI in September 1996.

He was first assigned to the Bridgeport Resident Agency, New Haven Division where he  investigated gangs and narcotics. matters. He was also a member of the New Haven Division SWAT team and served as a firearms instructor.

Foley transferred to the San Juan Division in 1999, where he investigated police corruption, gangs, and narcotics crimes.

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