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Archive for August, 2011

Michigan Man Smuggles Illegal Polar Bear Trophy from Canada

Courtesy of flickr user xrayspx under creative commons license.

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Sometimes it takes a rug, and sometimes it takes a polar bear trophy to really tie a room together. Such must have been the case when 73-year-old Jenison, Mich., resident Rodger Dale DeVries attempted to illegally import a polar bear trophy from Canada in 2007.

According to a plea agreement announced on Wednesday, DeVries obtained a license from Canada’s Nunavut Territory to hunt and kill the bear in the Foxe Basin in November of 2000, knowing the bear could not be legally imported into Michigan.

DeVries kept the trophy in a Canadian storage unit until July 3, 2007, when he picked it up with his two grandsons, boated it over to Raber Bay, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, then brought it home and sold the boat a few days later.

Problem was, the act was a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), according to federal authorities.  The bears have been listed as a “threatened species” since 2008 under the Endangered Species Act.

“The polar bear is an ecological and cultural treasure of the American and Canadian Arctic,” said Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno. “We will not tolerate the illegal importation of polar bear trophies and will fully prosecute all violations of federal law.” That could potentially mean a year in prison and maximum fines of $100,000.

Maybe next time Devries will settle for using a rug to tie the room together.

Devries pleaded guilty Aug. 22. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy P. Greeley in Grand Rapids, Mich. Sentencing is set for Sep. 8.

Google Pays Justice Dept. $500,000 for Running Canadian Pharmacy Ads

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Google, the 800-pound gorilla in the cyber world, is going to to be a little lighter in the pocket as a result of some wrongdoing.

Google has agreed to forfeit to the Justice Department $500 million for allowing online Canadian pharmacies to illegaly pedal prescription drugs, authorities announced Wednesday.

The Justice Department said the pharmacies placed ads through Google’s AdWords program and targeted U.S. consumers, resulting in the unlawful importation of controlled and non-controlled prescription drugs into the U.S.

The Justice Department noted that shipment of prescription drugs from pharmacies outside the United States to customers in the United States typically violates the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and in the case of controlled prescription drugs , the Controlled Substances Act. Authorities say they cannot assure the safety of drugs outside of the U.S.

Authorities said Google was aware as early as 2003, that generally, it was illegal for pharmacies to ship controlled and non-controlled prescription drugs into the United States from Canada.

“This investigation is about the patently unsafe, unlawful, importation of prescription drugs by Canadian on-line pharmacies, with Google’s knowledge and assistance, into the United States, directly to U.S. consumers,” said Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha.

“It is about taking a significant step forward in limiting the ability of rogue on-line pharmacies from reaching U.S. consumers, by compelling Google to change its behavior. It is about holding Google responsible for its conduct by imposing a $500 million forfeiture, the kind of forfeiture that will not only get Google’s attention, but the attention of all those who contribute to America’s pill problem.”

In a statement published in the Boston Globe, Google said:

“While we banned the advertising of prescription drugs in the US by Canadian pharmacies some time ago, it’s obvious with hindsight that we shouldn’t have allowed these ads on Google in the first place.”

Secret Service Countersniper Team Scrambles on White House Roof After Earthquake

Raw video from the Associated Press shows members of the Secret Service scrambling on the Whites House after Tuesday afternoon’s earthquake. The people on the roof are members of the Secret Service Countersniper Team, who are specially trained Uniformed Division officers.

John Edward’s Attys Want to Delay Trial

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Lawyers for ex-presidential hopeful John Edwards have a lot reasons to want to delay Edwards’ trial October trial — or so they say.

The Associated Press reports that lawyers filed a motion Wednesday asking for the delay so they could have more time to review 400,000 documents produced by prosecutors.

Edwards is accused of violating campaign finance laws in 2008.

AP reported his attorneys would also like more time to interview 125 witnesses that 50 FBI and IRS agents talked to during the investigation.

And that’s not all. He also wants a delay because his daughter Cate is getting married in October.

Edwards, 57, was indicted in June on charges that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaign funds to cover up an extra-marital affair during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Edwards insists he never did anything intentionally wrong.

Then again, he initially denied, and later admitted that he fathered a child with his mistress.

OYE! “Jewish Indiana Jones” Busted in “Save a Torah” Scam

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

OYE!

A man who billed himself as the “Jewish Indiana Jones”, and was the co-founder of “Save a Torah” charity, was arrested Wednesday by federal authorities on charges of defrauding donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan announced.

Authorities alleged that Manachem Youlus purported to “rescue” Torah scrolls lost or hidden during the Holocaust. A Torah is a holy scroll that connsists of the first five books of the Jewish scriptures.

Authorities alleged that Youlus, 50, of Wheaton, Md.,  duped the charity by fabricating detailed accounts of having found Torahs lost or hidden during the Holocaust in Europe, including in Auschwitz and the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and in other places around the world.  In some instances, authorities said, he simply bought torahs from other torah dealers.

He then used the false information to solicit  contributions to Save a Torah. He then embezzled the donations by diverting them into his personal accounts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleged. The charity lists an address in Rockville, Md., a suburb of D.C.

“Menachem Youlus called himself the ‘Jewish Indiana Jones,’ but his alleged exploits were no more real than those of the movie character he claimed to resemble,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

“He chose poorly in allegedly exploiting an excruciating chapter in Jewish and international history to perpetrate a brazen fraud that played on the heartstrings of thepeople for whom the painful memories of that period will never die.”

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With CIA help, NYPD Moves Covertly in Muslim Areas; Practice Raises Questions

By Adam Goldman
Associated Press.

In New Brunswick, N.J., a building superintendent opened the door to apartment No. 1076 one balmy Tuesday and discovered an alarming scene: terrorist literature strewn about the table and computer and surveillance equipment set up in the next room.

The panicked superintendent dialed 911, sending police and the FBI rushing to the building near Rutgers University on the afternoon of June 2, 2009. What they found in that first-floor apartment, however, was not a terrorist hideout but a command center set up by a secret team of New York Police Department intelligence officers.

From that apartment, about an hour outside the department’s jurisdiction, the NYPD had been staging undercover operations and conducting surveillance throughout New Jersey. Neither the FBI nor the local police had any idea.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the NYPD has become one of the country’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies. A months-long investigation by The Associated Press has revealed that the NYPD operates far outside its borders and targets ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government. And it does so with unprecedented help from the CIA in a partnership that has blurred the bright line between foreign and domestic spying.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Fla. Feds Break Up $40 Million Pill Mill

OxyContin or Oxycodone/dea photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Thirty two people were busted– including 13 doctors — in what the head of the Miami FBI described as “the nation’s largest criminal organization involved in the illegal distribution of pain killers.”

The bust capped a three-year investigation dubbed “Operation Oxy Alley” that netted the players tens of millions of dollars in profit, authorities said.  In a related state case, authorities charged a doctor with first-degree murder after a Florida man died shortly after filling an illegal prescription.

Authorities on Tuesday  unsealed the federal indictment that targeted the illegal distribution of pain killers and steroids through pill mills operating in Broward and Palm Beach Counties in Florida, and through the Internet. The charges included racketeering conspiracy, money laundering and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.

The law enforcement agencies involved in the take down included the DEA, FBI and IRS and local police departments.

The indictment alleges that twin brothers Christopher and Jeffrey George operated, managed and financed four  pain management clinics in Broward and Palm Beach Counties: American Pain, Executive Pain, East Coast Pain and Hallandale Pain.

According to the indictment, from 2008 to early 2010, the defendants’ pill mills distributed approximately 20 million oxycodone pills and made more than $40 million from the illegal sales of controlled substances.

“These defendants showed a callous disregard for the well-being of their patients and the value of human life. For years, they distributed oxycodone and other controlled substances without regard to medical need, without individual treatment plans, and without physical examinations, ” Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said in a statement.

John V. Gillies, head of the Miami FBI said :  “The significance of today’s takedown is that we have dismantled the nation’s largest criminal organization involved in the illegal distribution of pain killers. Up until today, efforts focused on the demand by targeting individual users. Today, we attacked the source and choked off the supply.”

Authorities alleged that the defendants operated the clinics as pill mills that offered patients prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances “without any legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional medical practice.”

Authorities said patients included addicts and traffickers seeking to buy large quantities of oxycodone and other drugs. Some traveled from such states as  Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.

The clinics hired security guards to try and control  fights and arguments that often erupted between patients waiting in the clinic lobbies for their physical examinations or prescriptions, authorities said.

The indictment stated that by  2010, the doctors involved in the operation were examining close to 500 patients a day at the American Pain Clinic alone.

Lastly, authorities alleged in the indictment that the racketeering defendants engaged in wide-ranging violence, including kidnapping, extortion, assault, aggravated assault with a firearm against  competitors and others suspected of  stealing or other acts of disloyalty.

Battle Heats Up — Gun Foundation Files Motion to Block ATF Gun Reporting Regulation Along Mexican Border

atf file photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The legal battle is heating up over an ATF regulation requiring gun dealers in states that border Mexico to report multiple gun sales of semi-automatic rifles capable of using detachable magazines.

The latest: The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in D.C. opposing the regulation, filed a motion this week asking a judge to issue a preliminary injunction to block the regulation that impacts 8,500 federally licensed firearms retailers along the Southwest border in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. The regulation impacts multiple guns sales within five consecutive business days.

The NSSF filed for a preliminary injunction, hoping to block the regulation while the lawsuit is heard. The regulation took effect Aug. 14.

The NSSF  alleges that the ATF regulation exceeds its legal authority under the Gun Control Act. ATF has pushed for the regulation, hoping to stem the flow of American guns into Mexico, where violent cartels have spun out of control.

NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane issued a statement on the organization’s motion, saying:

“A preliminary injunction will curtail an unlawful regulation by ATF that sets a dangerous legal precedent. If ATF can demand this information from these law-abiding retailers simply by sending a letter requiring it, then there is no record or report ATF cannot require of any licensee, anywhere in the country, simply because ATF had decided it wants to see the information.

“This is the proverbial ‘slippery slope.’ Our industry abhors the criminal misuse of firearms, whether on the streets of El Paso or in Juarez, Mexico. Though we can understand ATF’s motive is to try to curtail violence in Mexico, Congress simply has not granted ATF regulatory carte blanche.”

In a footnote, the motion says the guns targeted by ATF “include many of the most commonly used firearms for sporting purposes, including target shooting and hunting.”

The ATF letter notifying gun dealers of the regulation was sent on July 12  and took effect on August 14. Of the approximately 8,500 retailers that received the letters, 789 were NSSF members.

TheTruthAboutGuns.com has its own short editorial on the matter as well, generally siding with the NSSF, while Media Matters has taken a  more cautious approach, debunking claims Chuck Norris and other gun rights groups have fueled.