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August 2011


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for August, 2011

After 36 Years FBI Gets Its Man — Thanks to Dying Mom’s Request

By Allan Lengel

A dying mother’s request helped the FBI nab her her son, who had been on the lam for 36 years. He had escaped from prison while serving life for a deadly San Francisco robbery.

The Sacramento FBI Safe Streets Violent Crime Task Force on Friday arrested William Walter Asher III, 66, in Salida, Calif., a community outside of Modesto in northern California.

The story begins in 1966 when Asher, 20 at the time, and three other accomplices, robbed a San Franciso bar and killed the bartender. He fled to Chicago and the following year was captured by the FBI. He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

In January 1975 , a woman on the outside helped him escape from a state prison in El Dorado County, Calif. The FBI tracked him to  the Northwest Territories of Canada and the area in and around Hyder, Alaska. But by then, he was gone.

Investigators eventually figured out that Asher had assumed the name David Donald Mcfee, worked as a long-haul truck driver, married, and raised a family.  At some point, he  separated from his wife, who was later interviewed by Canadian authorities as well as the FBI. But she was unable to help authorities find Asher.

Recently, authorities got a break. They learned that that just before Asher’s mother, Mable Welch, passed away on July 1, 2005, she asked  family members to assist her in using the “secret” number to call “Billy.”

Armed with that information, the FBI Sacramento office collected toll records for associates of Mable Welch who were believed to have assisted her in contacting Asher.

Authorities reviewed multiple cell phone records which showed that two days prior to Mabel’s death, on June 29, 2005, two calls were made to a home in Salida, Calif.

Investigators found that the home was tied to the name  Garry Donald Webb (DOB: 01/15/1946).  The FBI found that Webb’s California driver’s license  photo resembled an older, thinner Asher.

On August 19,  agents and officers set up a surveillance of the  Salida home and the trucking business where  “Webb” supposedly worked.

At about 8:15 a.m., Asher exited the home and confronted by investigators. After some initial discussion, he admitted his true identity.

The FBI said it  appeared that a woman who had been with Asher for at least 10 years was unaware of his criminal past.

2 Somali Pirates Get Life in Death of 4 U.S. Citizens

By Allan Lengel

The pirate biz may have provided a good life for two Somalian men. Now it’s simply providing life — in prison that is.

Ali Abdi Mohamed, 30, and Burhan Abdirahman Yusuf, 31, were both sentenced Monday in federal court in Norfolk, Va. to life in prison for their roles in the pirate attack in February off the coast of Oman against the S/V Quest, which resulted in the murder of four U.S. citizens, the Justice Department said.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office; Alex J. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; and Mark Russ, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) in Norfolk, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Mark S. Davis.

“Piracy is a scourge that threatens nations, commerce, and individual lives,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride in a statement. “This is the first case where American lives have been lost due to Somali piracy, and as Somali pirates expand their territory, the risk of violence and harm to others continues to grow. Today’s sentences send a message to all those who participate in piracy that armed attacks on the high seas carry lifelong consequences.”

Janice Fedarcyk, head of the New York FBI added: “The pirates’ vain attempt to obtain ransom, after nine days at sea, ended in the death of four Americans. Today’s life sentences will be heard throughout the pirate community—and should send a clear message—that the days of unbridled armed robbery and extortion at sea are over. The only plunder these pirates earned is life behind bar.”

Authorities said the two men pled guilty to piracy, which carries a mandatory life sentence. Nine co-conspirators have also pled guilty and will be sentenced in the coming weeks.

The two men were among 19 Somalis who searched the high seas for a vessel to hold for ranson.

After several days at sea, authorities said,  the pirates were approximately 900 miles from Somalia and running low on fuel when they spotted the American vessel, the S/V Quest. So they took the four people aboard as hostages. Eventually during a standoff with U.S. warships, the pirates killed the four hostages.


“Deep Throat” Parking Garage Gets Historical Signpost

Mark Felt/face the nation

By Danny Fenster

In a nondescript Rosslyn, Va. parking garage in 1972, a FBI deputy director met with two young Washington Post reporters, sharing strands of information that would eventually take down the president of the United States.

The Watergate story has become an American legend, a story many from that era share with their children. The FBI deputy director: “Deep Throat”, later revealing himself in 2005 as W. Mark Felt. The reporters: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Now that garage boasts a historical marker, reports USA Today. Arlington County drafted the sign in 2008 and put it up this past Friday, according to the report. The text of the sign reads:

Mark Felt, second in command at the FBI, met Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward here in this parking garage to discuss the Watergate scandal. Felt provided Woodward information that exposed the Nixon administration’s obstruction of the FBI’s Watergate investigation. He chose the garage as an anonymous secure location. They met at this garage six times between October 1972 and November 1973. The Watergate scandal resulted in President Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Woodward’s managing editor, Howard Simons, gave Felt the code name “Deep Throat.” Woodward’s promise not to reveal his source was kept until Felt announced his role as Deep Throat in 2005.

But, as the USA Today article notes, a keen blogger pointed out a slight inaccuracy on the signpost. W. Joseph Campbell, on his Media Myth Alert blog, took issue with the line that “Felt provided Woodward information that exposed the Nixon administration’s obstruction of the FBI’s Watergate investigation.” Not so, says Campbell, who wrote:

Such evidence would have been so damaging and explosive that it surely would have forced Nixon to resign the presidency well before he did, in August 1974.

Felt didn’t have that sort of information — or (less likely) didn’t share it with Woodward.

As described in Woodward’s book about Felt, The Secret Man, the FBI official provided or confirmed a good deal of piecemeal evidence about the scandal as it unfolded.

Read more about the sign at

Secret Service Agent Accused of Raping S.C. Woman After Arrest

By Danny Fenster

A South Carolina woman who’s headed off to prison claims a Secret Service agent raped her after her arrest, according to the Associated Press.

The woman alleged in court documents that the agent took advantage of her on a couch in his office after arresting her on embezzlement charges, AP reported. The woman alleged that the agent warned her not to tell anyone or she’d be in bigger trouble.

She is asking that the judge toss out her sentence, and said the judge was never apprised of the allegations.

Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman in Washington, told on Monday that the  matter has been referred to the Office of Professional Responsibility for investigation.

The woman ended up pleading guilty and getting sentenced to 15 months in prison, AP reported. She is scheduled to report to prison on Tuesday.

AP did not identify the woman, saying it generally does not identify alleged sexual assault victims.

Justice Department Opens Probe into LA County Sheriff’s Department

By Allan Lengel

The Justice Department has launched a civil investigation into allegations that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department discriminated against public housing residents and executed warrantless searches.

The Justice Department said it was particularly honing in on members based in the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale.

The investigation will focus on allegations that sheriff’s deputies tried to identify public housing residents during routine traffic stops.

Investigators will also look into allegations that the department conducted warrantless searches of public housing units of African Americans under the guise of conducting compliance inspection checks.

“At times, it is alleged that the deputies approach the Section 8 recipient’s home with guns drawn and in full SWAT armor and conduct searches and questioning themselves, unrelated to the housing program,” the Justice Department alleged.

Column: Where’s the Outrage Over the FBI Bungling?

By Kevin Cullen
Boston Globe Columnist

BOSTON — About 20 years ago, some ATF agents went looking for Mark Rossetti, to lock him up.

Rossetti was a career criminal and ran with a violent band of thugs out of East Boston who used guns the way painters use brushes and carpenters use saws: tools of the trade.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives agents had a warrant for Rossetti on a gun charge, but every time they came close to arresting him, he somehow caught wind and eluded them.

After the ATF men finally caught Rossetti, they complained that an FBI agent named Mike Buckley was too cozy with Rossetti and didn’t want them to lock him up.

To read more click here

The FBI’s Man on the Pirate Beat– Kevin Coughlin

By Joseph Goldstein
New York Times

In the F.B.I.’s expansive offices in Lower Manhattan, a black-and-white banner on Special Agent Kevin P. Coughlin’s desk stands out amid the rows of cubicles. It is a Jolly Roger, skull above crossed swords, the pirate’s calling card.


Mr. Coughlin, 35, belongs to a squad whose caseload includes investigating crime on the high seas. Not too long ago that mostly meant crimes on cruise ships, like rape and jewelry theft. But as piracy proliferated off the coast of Somalia over the past four years, and as American ships came under attack, the nature of the squad’s inquiries changed.

In the past two years, as lead investigator in most of the F.B.I.’s piracy cases, Mr. Coughlin has interviewed a majority of the accused pirates charged in United States courts in modern times — 18 of 27 men, all from Somalia or Yemen. He has tried to determine how each ended up in a skiff far out to sea, and what their respective roles were during an attack.

“Like a lot of criminals, they try to minimize their involvement,” Mr. Coughlin said.

To read full story click here.

Ga. FBI Forms New Squad to Take Aim at Corrupt Judges and Lawmakers

Brian Lamkin/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel

The FBI in Georgia is trying to hone in on corrupt judges and legislators.

The Associated Press reports that the FBI has created a new squad to investigate those folks. Brian Lamkin, who heads the FBI office in Georgia, told The Associated Press he formed the team after months of reviewing the agency’s priorities.

“It impacts the everyday system. It’s not just a dirty law enforcement officer that might be shaking you down,” he said, according to AP. “You’re talking about people that you elect to an office to represent you who try to line their pockets.” To read more click here