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Archive for February, 2012

Mob Museum Opens in Appropriate Setting: Las Vegas

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The nicknames have become legendary: The Chin, The Dapper Don, Bugsy.

Now, there’s a place for them, all under one roof.

The New York Times reported on Monday of a $42 million museum in Las Vegas dedicated to the Mob, three stories of a 41,000-square-foot landmark building with 17,000 square feet of exhibition space. The museum opened on Tuesday, Valentines Day.

How romantic.

“With artifacts, clever interactive displays, atmospheric exhibits and photographs and videos, … We see how the mob maneuvered into businesses of pleasure, not releasing its hold until late in the 20th century, when corporate casinos trumped their almost quaint predecessors,” reports the Times.

The museum will also teach how immigrants of a Italian and Jewish backgrounds built what they could in the “land of opportunity” until the Feds brought them down by wiretaps and informants, according to the Times.

To read more click here.

FBI Shows Up; Texas Mayor Has Some Explaining to Do

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

When you’re the mayor and the FBI shows up with a search warrant at your home, you, as Ricky Ricardo used to say, “got some splainin to do.”

The FBI and Texas Rangers showed up Tuesday with a search warrant for Art Franco, the mayor of Anthony, Tex.,  reports the news television station KTSM.

“I feel confident that I haven’t done anything wrong that I can justify what they’re investigating,” Franco said, according to the station.  “We’re working, we’re moving forward and this is not going to affect that and I feel confident that when everything is finished everything is going to be ok.”

The station reported that the FBI and Texas Rangers seized several items, including documents. Franco said the  search, part of an investigation that started last April, is politically motivated.

To read more click here.

Ala. Man Pleads Guilty to Selling Bird Feathers

 

Anhinga bird/istock photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It ain’t the crime of the century. But it can still land  you in one heck of a lot of trouble. Ask Alexander D. Alvarez.

Alvarez  pleaded guilty to the selling and possessing of illegal migratory bird feathers, the Department of Justice announced on Wednesday.

Alvarez, of Atmore, Ala., entered a guilty plea in federal court to violating the Lacey Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), according to the Justice Department Environment and Natural Resources Division announced on Wednesday. The MBTA protects certain birds from being “killed, sold, bartered, transported or possessed,” with exceptions for some American Indian tribes. Alvarez was charged on the first of the month with two felonies and one misdemeanor, violations which carry a combined possible nine-and-a-half year sentence and up to $785,000 in fines. Sentencing is scheduled for May 22.

Court documents indicate that Alvarez emailed a Louisiana individual regarding the exchange of two Anhinga tails for a crested Caracara tail, a Harris’s hawk tail and $400, then sent 14 sets of Anhinga tail feathers to the individual, asking the recipient to photograph and offer the tails for sale via email. He later received payment for the tails.

Alvarez’s home was searched with a federal search warrant on March 11, 2009, where feathers from several migratory bird species were seized, according to the Justice Department.

 

Ex-Atty. Gen. Meese Declines to Comment on Operation Fast and Furious

Ed Meese/yale.edu photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The poor Daily Caller.

The conservative news website, which is bent on bashing Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr., couldn’t get the former Attorney Gen. Ed Meese to do the same, despite attempts. The website tried to get Meese to trash Holder or others in the Justice Department in connection with the flawed ATF operation known as Fast and Furious that let guns walk into Mexico with the hopes of tracing them to the cartels.

“Well I have not commented on it because unless you’re actually there in the Department of Justice knowing everything that went on, it’s very hard to comment on it,” Meese told TheDC. “We all know that it was, that it came to ruin, if you will, that it didn’t work out as it had been anticipated certainly and that there were a lot of problems with it, very serious problems, tragic problems in one case. But, more than that, I don’t know other than what I read in the newspapers so I can’t really comment in detail on it.”

Apparently, the fact that a Republican attorney general wouldn’t trash Holder or others in the Justice Department without knowing all the facts must have come as a surprise to the Daily Caller.

OTHER STORIES OF INTERST:

Off Color Texts Hurt Justice Department’s Largest Sting Targeting Foreign Bribery

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — In text message after text message, FBI agents and their key informant joked about sex, booty calls, prostitutes, cigars, the Village People, the informant’s wives and an agent’s girlfriend. They even pondered who might play their roles in a movie based on their sting.

When arrests were announced by the Justice Department, the agents and informant basked in positive press. “It’s like an atomic mushroom cloud,” the informant gloated in a text to his FBI handler.

Since reaching court, however, there hasn’t been much to brag about in the Justice Department’s largest investigation of individuals accused of bribing foreign officials.

To read the full story click here.

$160,000 Armored Car Failed to Protect Slain ICE Agent Jaime Zapata

ICE Agent Jaime Zapata killed in Mexico/ice photo

 By Nick Miroff and William Booth
Washington Post.

MEXICO CITY — When U.S. special agent Jaime Zapata was shot dead one year ago on a notorious stretch of highway in central Mexico, he was driving a $160,000 armored Chevy Suburban, built to exacting government standards, designed to defeat high-velocity gunfire, fragmentation grenades and land mines.

But the vehicle had a basic, fatal flaw.

Forced off the road in a well-coordinated ambush, surrounded by drug cartel gunmen brandishing AK-47s, Zapata and his partner, Victor Avila, rolled to a stop. Zapata put the vehicle in park.

The door locks popped open.

To read full story click here.

 

Popularity of Synthetic Pot on the Rise

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

New trends indicate an increase in the use of dangerous synthetic drugs not currently covered under federal drug laws, reports Business Wire. The new drugs come from the cannabinoid family, closely related to marijuana.

“Simply making the new drugs illegal is not likely to make them go away,” said Dr. Barry Logan, Director of NMS Labs Designer Drug Initiative. “There is now an established market for these products alongside traditional recreational drugs.”

“The latest trend we are seeing is the appearance of completely new drugs. These new drugs are different in design from the current synthetic drugs and alter the brain’s chemistry by amplifying the effects of normal brain chemicals, producing the same marijuana-like effects,” said Logan.

To read more click here.

Physician Handed Four Life Sentences for Fatal Prescriptions

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A Chicago Physician was handed a steep sentence on Tuesday for his role in the deaths of four individuals, the FBI said.

Paul H. Volkman was sentenced to four consecutive terms of life imprisonment, the FBI said.  He was convicted of “illegally prescribing and dispensing pain pills outside the scope of a legitimate medical practice,” the FBI said, resulting in the death of four people between 2003 and 2005.

The 64-year-old was convicted in May of 2011 of 18 crimes, receiving a life sentence on each count as well as being ordered to forfeit $1.2 million. Among the 70 witnesses presented at trial were pharmacists that refused to fill Volkman’s prescriptions, law enforcement officials who investigated the deaths and  Volkman’s employees.

“Volkman was the physician at the center of a criminal scheme to distribute millions of controlled substances to hundreds of individuals in exchange for cash—a scheme that brought addiction, diversion, and death to southeastern Ohio and beyond,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tim Oakley and Adam Wright wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court. “During the course of this conspiracy, Volkman was the top physician purchaser of oxycodone in the country.”