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Archive for December, 2011

Lebanese Man Charged With Supplying Mexican Cartel in U.S.; Allegedly Has Ties to Hezbollah

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A Lebanese man indicted by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va. in November was charged on Tuesday with coordinating a multi-ton shipment of cocaine to the Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel in the United States, along with laundering hundreds of millions of dollars back to Colombian suppliers, reports local NBC affiliate KETK.

CNN reported that the man has ties to Hezbollah, the Lebanese organization the U.S. has labeled as a terrorist group.

The DEA and the US Attorneys Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced the charges against Ayman Joumaa, a.k.a. “Junior.”  That and money laundering charges means Joumaa faces a possible life sentence.

KETK reports that for at least eight years Joumaa and others conspired to bring tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine to the Los Zetas drug cartel in the US through Columbia and Central America.

To read more click here.

 

Appellate Judges Skeptical of Ex-Congressman Jefferson’s Appeal

file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s been six years since FBI agents raided ex-Congressman William Jefferson’s Capitol Hill home and found $90,000 in his freezer, and more than two years since he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for bribery and other public corruption charges.

Still, the 64-year-old New Orleans politician, who lost Jefferson a re-election bid in 2008, hasn’t served one day in prison. He’s out awaiting the outcome of his appeal on a sentence that was the harshest ever given to a member of Congress for a public corruption conviction.

Last week, Appellate judges expressed skepticism about his appeal, according to New Orleans Times-Picayune star reporter Bruce Alpert. Jefferson was convicted in August 2009 of 11 of 16 counts.

Alpert writes that legal experts say Jefferson could get some of the 11 counts overturned.

But the question, according to the Times-Picayune, is whether getting some overturned will make a difference and prompt the stoic federal judge in Alexandria, Va. T.S. Ellis III to lower his sentence.

“He really needs a home run in his appeal, a triple or double might not help him,” Dane Ciolino, a law professor at Loyola University told the Picayune.

To read more click here.

 

MORE STORIES OF INTEREST:

Border Patrols to be Cut by Half

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Federal budget cuts have manifested themselves in a multitude of ways already. Now, dramatically, the Obama administration plans next year to cut the number of National Guard troops patrolling the US-Mexico border by at least half, reports the Washington Times.

Though the White House is not announcing the plans yet, Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter learned of the plan, says half is the minimum number the patrol will have to be cut by, which will mean reshuffling troops already along the border. In Duncan’s state of California, the new plans will mean slashing patrol levels from 264 to just 14.

To read more click here.

 

8 Executives Charged in $100 Million Foreign Bribe Scheme

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

If you’re going to bribe a country, you might as well do it big time.

That’s what eight former executives and agents of Siemens AG and its subsidiaries must have figured.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that the eight had been charged with allegedly engaging in a decade-long scheme to bribe senior Argentina officials  to secure, implement and enforce a $1 billion contract with the government to produce national identity cards.

“Today’s indictment alleges a shocking level of deception and corruption,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer in a statement. “Business should be won or lost on the merits of a company’s products and services, not the amount of bribes paid to government officials.

The indictment charges that the defendants and their co-conspirators conspired to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the wire fraud statute, money laundering conspiracy and wire fraud.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the defendants bribed Argentine officials in two successive administrations “and paid off countless others in a successful effort to secure a billion dollar contract.”

The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to conceal the illicit payments.

For instance, authorities said, one person made cash withdrawals from Siemens AG general-purpose accounts in Germany totaling approximately $10 million, transported the cash across the border into Switzerland and deposited the funds into Swiss bank accounts for transfer to officials.

The defendants charged in the indictment returned late Monday included Uriel Sharef, a former member of the central executive committee of Siemens AG; Herbert Steffen, a former chief executive officer of Siemens Argentina; Andres Truppel, a former chief financial officer of Siemens Argentina; Ulrich Bock, Stephan Signer and Eberhard Reichert, former senior executives of Siemens Business Services (SBS); and Carlos Sergi and Miguel Czysch, who served as intermediaries and agents of Siemens in the bribe scheme.

 

FBI Appoints Ralph S. Boelter as New Assistant Dir. of Counterterrorism Division

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Ralph S. Boelter, after 20 years with the FBI, has been named assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, the bureau said in a statement on Monday.

Boelter began his career at the bureau’s Boston Division in July of 1991, investigating white collar crime, violent crime and criminal enterprise matters, according to the statement.

In March of 2000 he was sent to the Los Angeles Division to supervise the Violent Crime and Criminal Enterprise Branch, later serving as the acting assistant special agent in charge of that branch. In 2005 he helped investigate the unauthorized disclosure of CIA Agent Valeria Plame.

In December of 2006 FBI Director Robert Mueller sent him closer to his native Wisconsin when he was put in charge of the Minneapolis Division, where he managed high-profile cases such as the $3.6 billion Thomas Petters corporate fraud investigation and terrorism investigations of Somali-Americans.

In 2010 Boelter earned the Presidential Rank Award for sustained meritorious performance as a senior executive.

 

FBI Denies Freedom of Info Request to Company About it’s Spyware for Cell Phones

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Is a company entitled to know if the software it produces is being used by the FBI?

The FBI says No.

Carrier IQ, a Mountain View, Calif.-based tech company, aggravated many when news got out that it had installed tracking software on millions of peoples’ cell phones without their knowledge, and that it was capable of recording large amounts of user information including sites visited and even passwords entered on secure sites. The information could be sent to the cellphone carriers or Carrier IQ.

On Monday, it was announced that Carrier IQ’s  Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI was denied.  The company wanted to known if the bureau was using its software to gather information or manuals or other materials it produces.

The FOIA request was filed Dec. 1 by Michael Morisy, co-founder of MuckRock, a website that helps people file FOIA requests with the government, according to Computerworld.

The bureau responded by saying that, while they had documents pertinent to the request, releasing them would endanger ongoing investigations.

“What is still unclear is whether the FBI used Carrier IQ’s software in its own investigations, whether it is currently investigating Carrier IQ, or whether it is some combination of both – not unlikely given the recent uproar over the practice coupled with the U.S. intelligence communities reliance on third-party vendors,” Muckrock wrote on its website.

Muckrock said it  plans to appeal the FBI’s denial for the material.

 

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST:

 

FBI’s Preemptive Tactics Questioned in New York Terrorism Sting

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Were the Newburgh Four really intent on perpetrating terrorist attacks on US military planes and the homes of wealthy New York Jews?

A report by the Guardian on Monday questions the “ethos” of  FBI investigation that led to the conviction of the four suburban New Yorkers that were jailed for 25 years earlier this year from a 2009 plot to shoot down U.S. military planes and blow up Jewish targets.

An FBI operative, Shahed Hussain, coordinated, planned and even pushed the four men repeatedly to participate in a plot they were reluctant to join, according to the Guardian.

The four men were impoverished and desperate for money, and Hussain had offered a staggering $250,000 for their participation. One of the men was so mentally affected his apartment was littered with bottles of his own urine. Further, Hussain had a long criminal history which he sought to avoid punishment for by working with the FBI.

“The case will question the new ethos of the FBI, which, since the terror attacks of 9/11, has focused on pre-emptive prosecution,” writes the Guardian.

The lawyers have appealed the conviction.

To read more click here.

 

Former Secret Service Official Endorsed as Next Sergeant at Arms

istock photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A former top Secret Service official has been endorsed by Republican Rep. John Boehner as the next Seargeant at Arms, in charge of protecting all lawmakers, congressional staff and visitors to the Capitol Complex, reports the Hill.

On Monday Boehner recommended former Assistant Director for Administration Paul Irving to replace outgoing Bill Livingood as House Sergeant at Arms. Livingood, also a former Secret Service official, plans to retire in January. The job includes overseeing the U.S. Capitol Police.

“Paul Irving’s 25-year career in the U.S. Secret Service earned him the strongest possible recommendations for this important post,” Boehner wrote in a statement. “His high level federal law enforcement experience, including a number of assignments working closely with the Congress, will be invaluable to the House.”

To read more click here.