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Archive for November, 2012

U.S. Customs Officers Help Deliver Baby at Texas-Mexico Border

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.om

Two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers helped deliver a baby girl at a South Texas border, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

The mother, a 19-year-old U.S. citizen, was a passenger in a car Saturday at a bridge between Brownsville, Tex.  and Matamoros, Mexico when the driver alerted the U.S. Customs and Border Protection that a baby was on its way.

With no time to wait for medical help, officers Jaime Padron and Marvin Prazelini helped deliver the baby, the Star-Telegram reported.

The agency said the mother and newborn are healthy.

STORIES OF OTHER INTEREST

Patraeus Email Scandal Grows Richer: FBI Agent Sent Shirtless Photo to Woman Who Complained

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Now this is starting to sound like a full-blown, made for the big-screen Washington scandal.

Reporters Devlin Barrett, Evan Perez and Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal report that the FBI agent who started the probe into Patraeus scandal, was a friend of Jill Kelley, the Tampa woman who received harassing, anonymous emails, and sent her a shirtless photo of himself before the whole probe began.

The Journal reported:

 However, supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter, and prohibited him from any role in the investigation, according to the officials.

One official said the agent in question sent shirtless photos to Ms. Kelley well before the email investigation began, and FBI officials only became aware of them some time later. Eventually, supervisors told the agent he was to have nothing to do with the case, though he never had a formal role in the investigation, the official said.

To read the full story click here.

Prosecutors in Petraeus Case Exercised “Sound Discretion”

By Steve Levin
For ticklethewire.com

In 2004, the then-US Attorney for the District of Maryland famously wrote in a leaked email that he wanted three front-page indictments by November of that year. Though open to interpretation, the impression left by the poorly-drafted missive is that prosecutors should seek headlines rather than justice.

Let’s give credit to the prosecutors involved in the Petraeus/ Broadwell affair, er, matter for their exercise of sound discretion.

Assuming the accuracy of the news reports, Paula Broadwell potentially subjected herself to indictment for any number of federal crimes. In his paper entitled Computer and Internet Crime, G. Patrick Black, a federal defender in Texas, analyzes a number of cyberstalking statutes. As Black writes:

Under 18 U.S.C. 875(c), it is a federal crime to transmit any communication in interstate or foreign commerce containing a threat to injure the person of another. Section 875(c) applies to any communication actually transmitted in interstate or foreign commerce – thus it includes threats transmitted in interstate or foreign commerce via the telephone, e-mail, beepers, or the Internet. Title 18 U.S.C. 875 is not an all-purpose anti-cyberstalking statute.

First, it applies only to communications of actual threats. Thus, it would not apply in a situation where a cyberstalker engaged in a pattern of conduct intended to harass or annoy another (absent some threat). Also, it is not clear that it would apply to situations where a person harasses or terrorizes another by posting messages on a bulletin board or in a chat room encouraging others to harass or annoy another person.

 

Next, as Black continues, certain forms of cyberstalking also may be prosecuted under 47 U.S.C. 223. One provision of this statute makes it a federal crime, punishable by up to two years in prison, to use a telephone or telecommunications device to annoy, abuse, harass, or threaten any person at the called number.

The statute also requires that the perpetrator not reveal his or her name. See 47 U.S.C. 223(a)(1)(c). Although this statute is broader than 18 U.S.C. 875– in that it covers both threats and harassment –Section 223 applies only to direct communications between the perpetrator and the victim. Thus, it would not reach a cyberstalking situation where a person harasses or terrorizes another person by posting messages on a bulletin board or in a chat room encouraging others to harass or annoy another person. Moreover, Section 223 is only a misdemeanor, punishable by not more than two years in prison.

The most likely statute under which charges may have been brought against Broadwell is 18 U.S.C. 2261A, also known as the Interstate Stalking Act. The ISA makes it a crime for any person to travel across state lines with the intent to injure or harass another person and, in the course thereof, places that person or a member of that person’s family in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury causes substantial emotional distress to that person [or a member of their family.]” This assumes, of course, that Broadwell traveled across state lines with such an intent. Assuming she did and assuming prosecutors could establish such an intent, it is both surprising and refreshing that prosecutors apparently decided not to bring criminal charges.

As I have written before, some public figures, such as government employees, are justifiably subject to a higher standard of conduct. However, it might be difficult for an agent or a prosecutor to resist a viable federal charge against a celebrity that would be an easy declination if the target were an average citizen.

See, for example, United States v. John Edwards, one of many recent cases that suggest that prosecutorial discretion is not working. Given the success of her book, the ironically-named “All In,” and her various television appearances, Paula Broadwell was by some measure a celebrity. Given the recent news coverage, she most certainly has attained that status at this point. Even with the best of intentions, a prosecutor may have been seduced at the notion of a publicity-generating case against such a high-profile target.

By its very nature, prosecutorial discretion depends on decisions made by individual prosecutors. And there are marked differences in individual prosecutors. A busy federal prosecutor in a major city may be less inclined to take a marginal case than a federal prosecutor in a slower jurisdiction. A new federal prosecutor trying to make a name for him/herself might be more inclined to investigate a high-profile target aggressively than a seasoned veteran who has already seen his or her share of big cases.

Admittedly, white collar laws have to be drawn broadly in order to permit federal prosecutors to combat the increasingly creative, technologically complex efforts of enterprising criminals. At least one downside of such broadness is that a large number of people may find themselves under federal investigation for conduct that can better be addressed in a different forum, or no forum at all. Most prosecutors, do, in fact, make rational decisions based upon the best possible expenditure of resources, the assessment of the jury appeal of a particular case, and the desire to maintain a good reputation with the bench and the bar.

However, prosecutors and investigators too often fail to recognize that they may view a case against a high-profile target differently than a case against an average citizen and should consider, in making charging decisions, whether the identity of the target is a valid consideration or not. The decision not to pursue criminal charges against Broadwell is perhaps a signal that discretion might be working after all.

Column: Ex-Fed Prosecutor Says Prosecutors in Petraeus Case Exercised “Sound Discretion”

Steve Levin, a criminal defense attorney, spent ten years as a federal prosecutor in North Carolina and Maryland. He served on active duty in the United States Army as a defense counsel, an appellate attorney, and a trial attorney, and is now a military judge in the Army Reserve. His firm, Levin & Curlett, has offices  in Baltimore and Washington.  This column  first appeared on his blog Fraud with Peril.

Steve Levin

 
By Steve Levin
For ticklethewire.com

In 2004, the then-US Attorney for the District of Maryland famously wrote in a leaked email that he wanted three front-page indictments by November of that year. Though open to interpretation, the impression left by the poorly-drafted missive is that prosecutors should seek headlines rather than justice.

Let’s give credit to the prosecutors involved in the Petraeus/ Broadwell affair, er, matter for their exercise of sound discretion.

Assuming the accuracy of the news reports, Paula Broadwell potentially subjected herself to indictment for any number of federal crimes. In his paper entitled Computer and Internet Crime, G. Patrick Black, a federal defender in Texas, analyzes a number of cyberstalking statutes. As Black writes:

Under 18 U.S.C. 875(c), it is a federal crime to transmit any communication in interstate or foreign commerce containing a threat to injure the person of another. Section 875(c) applies to any communication actually transmitted in interstate or foreign commerce – thus it includes threats transmitted in interstate or foreign commerce via the telephone, e-mail, beepers, or the Internet. Title 18 U.S.C. 875 is not an all-purpose anti-cyberstalking statute.

First, it applies only to communications of actual threats. Thus, it would not apply in a situation where a cyberstalker engaged in a pattern of conduct intended to harass or annoy another (absent some threat). Also, it is not clear that it would apply to situations where a person harasses or terrorizes another by posting messages on a bulletin board or in a chat room encouraging others to harass or annoy another person.

Read more »

Column: Ex-FBI Official Skeptical of Media and Whether Patraeus Probe Will Remain Bi-Partisan

Anthony Riggio is a former lawyer who went on to work for the FBI for 24 years. He held a number of posts during that time including assistant special agent in charge of the Detroit office. He retired in 1995 as a senior executive at FBI headquarters. His column is in response to a ticklethewire.com newsletter that said: “It will be interesting to see how much legs this Gen. Patraeus scandal has. Hopefully, it will remain a bi-partisan concern. If not, it will just turn into another ugly partisan-bashing fest inside the Beltway, something the country doesn’t need.” 

Tony Riggio

By Anthony Riggio
For ticklethewire.com
I am afraid that if the media doesn’t keep it alive it may never develop “legs”.
 
Based on past performance, vis a vie this president, I have little faith in our media. This, in my humble opinion is perhaps bigger than Watergate because of all the players involved. But unlike Nixon, Obama is not a Republican.

So I ask:  Do all the people have a “right to know” or do only the “liberal half”?

As far as bi-partisanship goes, I, for one, am not holding my breath.

If the media, in this situation, does not do its job, the Congress will!  Still, I fear that a biased media will regard any legitimate inquiries as  “partisan bashing.”

 

 

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When Will We See Them Again? Release Dates on Some Public Figures

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

 It’s interesting how soon we forget about public figures when they run afoul of the law. Sometimes years go by before we finally say, “Gee, whatever happened to Congressman so-and-so” and “I wonder when he’s getting out of prison.”

Well, ticklethewire.com was wondering the same. So we checked with the Bureau of Prisons to see when we might see some of the folks in public again. Here’s an update on their release dates.

Bernie Kerik/facebook

Bernie Kerik:  Kerik,  57, seemed to have it all.  The former New York City Police Commissioner was a post-9/11 hero. He had his boy Rudy Giuliani promoting him. And then the roof fell in. He was caught lying when being considered for head of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. And he was busted for receiving about $255,000 in renovations to his apartment from a company seeking contracts with the city. He was sentenced to four years in prison for eight felony counts. He’s serving out his sentence now in New York. Release date: 10-15-2013.

 Randall “Duke” Cunningham: Cunningham, 70, of California, was an influential Congressman who served from 1991 to 2005. His days as a player inside the Beltway ended when he resigned in November 2005 after copping a plea for taking at least $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors. He was sentenced to 8 years and four months. He’s currently serving out his sentence in Tucson. Release date: 6-4-2013.

William Jefferson

William Jefferson: Jefferson, 65, the New Orleans Congressman, served nine terms before he was finally defeated. He could have been Congressman for life had it not been for an FBI sting. He was hardly known outside his district, that is until he stuffed $90,000 in marked FBI bills in freezer at his home on Capitol Hill. The judge in Alexandria, Va. hit him hard with a 13 year sentence. He is currently serving his time in Beaumont, Tex. Release date: 8-30-2023

 

Blagojevich/file photo

Rod Blagojevich: You can only  hope that Blago, 55, has learned to control his chatter-box persona in prison. Some people may not be so tolerant of that in such closed-in quarters. Blago was convicted in his first trial on only 1 of 24 counts, and that was for lying to an FBI agent. But the feds wised up and simplified the case in the second trial and got convictions on 17 of 20 counts. The judge didn’t hold back. He sentenced Blagojevich to 14 years in prison. He’s currently serving in Littleton, Colo. Release date: 5-23-2024

Bernie Madoff: Madoff, 74, will go down in history as one of the biggest swindlers of his time. He’s currently serving his sentence at the Butner prison facility in North Carolina. He got whacked with a ridiculous, but appropriate sentence of 150 years.Release date: NEVER.

Ex. Gov George Ryan

George Ryan Sr: Ryan, 78, served as Illinois 39th governor from 1999 to 2003. He was convicted in 2006 of racketeering, fraud and other offenses involving favoritism and kickbacks for state contracts and property leases. He was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison. He is currently serving out his sentence in Terre Haute, Ind. Release date: 7-4-2013.

 

Monica Conyers/facebook

 Monica Conyers: Conyers, 48, the wife of Rep. John Conyers Jr., was a city council member in Detroit. She was considered rather abrasive and combative and was particularly good at creating divisiveness in a city that could hardly afford that. She was convicted of bribery and sentenced to more than three years in prison.  She’s currently serving her time in Alderson, W. Va.Release Date: 5-16-2013.

 

 

When Will We See These Public Figures Again? Here’s the Release Dates

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

 It’s interesting how soon we forget about public figures when they run afoul of the law. Sometimes years go by before we finally say, “Gee, whatever happened to Congressman so-and-so” and “I wonder when he’s getting out of prison.”

Well, ticklethewire.com was wondering the same. So we checked with the Bureau of Prisons to see when we might see some of the folks in public again. Here’s an update on their release dates.

Bernie Kerik/facebook

Bernie Kerik:  Kerik,  57, seemed to have it all.  The former New York City Police Commissioner was a post-9/11 hero. He had his boy Rudy Giuliani promoting him. And then the roof fell in. He was caught lying when being considered for head of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. And he was busted for receiving about $255,000 in renovations to his apartment from a company seeking contracts with the city. He was sentenced to four years in prison for eight felony counts. He’s serving out his sentence now in New York. Release date: 10-15-2013.

 Randall “Duke” Cunningham: Cunningham, 70, of California, was an influential Congressman who served from 1991 to 2005. His days as a player inside the Beltway ended when he resigned in November 2005 after copping a plea for taking at least $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors. He was sentenced to 8 years and four months. He’s currently serving out his sentence in Tucson. Release date: 6-4-2013.

William Jefferson

William Jefferson: Jefferson, 65, the New Orleans Congressman, served nine terms before he was finally defeated. He could have been Congressman for life had it not been for an FBI sting. He was hardly known outside his district, that is until he stuffed $90,000 in marked FBI bills in freezer at his home on Capitol Hill. The judge in Alexandria, Va. hit him hard with a 13 year sentence. He is currently serving his time in Beaumont, Tex. Release date: 8-30-2023

Blagojevich/file photo

Rod Blagojevich: You can only  hope that Blago, 55, has learned to control his chatter-box persona in prison. Some people may not be so tolerant of that in such closed-in quarters. Blago was convicted in his first trial on only 1 of 24 counts, and that was for lying to an FBI agent. But the feds wised up and simplified the case in the second trial and got convictions on 17 of 20 counts. The judge didn’t hold back. He sentenced Blagojevich to 14 years in prison. He’s currently serving in Littleton, Colo. Release date: 5-23-2024

Bernie Madoff: Madoff, 74, will go down in history as one of the biggest swindlers of his time. He’s currently serving his sentence at the Butner prison facility in North Carolina. He got whacked with a ridiculous, but appropriate sentence of 150 years. Release date: NEVER.

Ex. Gov George Ryan

George Ryan Sr: Ryan, 78, served as Illinois 39th governor from 1999 to 2003. He was convicted in 2006 of racketeering, fraud and other offenses involving favoritism and kickbacks for state contracts and property leases. He was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison. He is currently serving out his sentence in Terre Haute, Ind. Release date: 7-4-2013.

 

Monica Conyers/facebook

Monica Conyers: Conyers, 48, the wife of Rep. John Conyers Jr., was a city council member in Detroit. She was considered rather abrasive and combative and was particularly good at creating divisiveness in a city that could hardly afford that. She was convicted of bribery and sentenced to more than three years in prison.  She’s currently serving her time in Alderson, W. Va. Release Date: 5-16-2013.