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February 2013


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Archive for February, 2013

FBI Criticized for Handling of Mentally Ill Man Accused in Attempted Bombing in Oakland

Steve Neavling 

Depending on whom you believe, Matthew Aaron Llaneza was either bent on committing terrorism in the name of Allah or was psychotic and easily manipulated by the FBI, the Mercury News reports.

The 28-year-old San Jose is accused of trying to detonate what turned out to be a phony bomb Friday in Oakland, Calif., and flee to Afghanistan to help train the Taliban.

But civil rights advocates and Llaneza’s former attorney in another case maintain the man was incapable of pulling off a terrorist attack without the government’s help, Mercury News reported.

“My question is whether or not the FBI stopped a crime in this case or had created one,” said Cameron Bowman, who represented Llaneza for a 2011 weapons charge. “Is this a guy who planned the crime and the FBI stopped him, or is he susceptible to being sucked into whatever is suggested to him, getting set up and not fully understanding the consequences?”

In an earlier case, Llaneza is portrayed as a troubled man struggling with psychosis and bipolar disorder, Mercury News wrote.


The FBI and Biker Busts

By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper

BALTIMORE — The FBI has a long, storied history of infiltrating and prosecuting the Outlaws Motorcycle Club (OMC) as an organized-crime gang, including some high-profile cases in recent years. On Jan. 31, a Baltimore man put himself squarely in the middle of one such probe in Philadelphia by allegedly phoning in threats in an effort to collect money owed for about two pounds of methamphetamine, court documents show. What the Baltimore man didn’t know is that the person he allegedly threatened was pretending to be a biker-gang member and was actually working undercover to infiltrate the OMC on behalf of the FBI.

The man who made the alleged phone calls, 42-year-old Michael James Privett of 6600 Gary Ave. in East Baltimore’s O’Donnell Heights neighborhood, was charged with “collection of extensions of credit by extortionate means,” which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Privett appeared in Maryland U.S. District Court on Feb. 5, after his arrest, and his case was transferred to federal court in Philadelphia.

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Elderly Man Who Claims He’s Dying Arrested in Illinois for Robbing Bank

FBI photo

Steve Neavling

A 73-year-old man who robbed a bank in Illinois, saying he only had six months to live, was charged Monday and could spend the rest of his life behind bars, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Walter Unbehaun, of Rock Hill, N.C., was arrested by FBI agents and local police outside of a hotel in North Chicago Sunday, a day after the bank robbery.

The Tribune wrote that Unbehaun is accused of walking into a bank with a silver gun tucked into his waistband and demanding money from a teller.

“This is a hold up. I have nothing to lose,” he said, according to the teller.

Unbehaun left with $4,178 in cash, the Tribune reported.

FBI Agent Under Investigation for Using Bureau Van for Second Job

Steve Neavling 

An FBI agent is under fire after a TV news team caught him working a second job in Houston while allegedly on the clock with the bureau.

After the KHOU 11 News I-Team questioned Supervisory Special Agent Brian Ritchie about setting up ATMs during the workday, the FBI has opened an investigation, the I-Team reported.

The focus is whether Ritchie was misusing an FBI van when he delivered the ATMs.

“If there is a willful misuse of a government vehicle, that’s a violation of FBI regulations,” Larry Karson, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Houston Downtown, told KHOU.


FBI Names First Woman – a 29-year-veteran – to Lead Salt Lake City Division

Steve Neavling 

Mary F. Rook, a 29-year veteran of the FBI, was named the first woman to serve as special agent in charge of the bureau’s Salt Lake City Division in Utah, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

The announcement Monday marks yet another big achievement by a female FBI agent in a field that not long ago was dominated by men.

Rook launched her career with the FBI as a lab technician in 1984 and most recently served as special agent in charge of the Anchorage Division in Alaska.

Rook, a native of Montana, replaces David J. Johnson, who recently was appointed to lead the FBI’s operations in San Francisco.

Pro-Immigration Groups Worry Border Patrol Agents Are Motivated by Incentives

Steve Neavling 

Immigrant advocacy groups are worried that an incentive program for U.S. Border Patrol agents is encouraging abuse of authority and false arrests, Buffalo News reports.

The program awards agents with cash, extra vacation time and gift cards.

The Buffalo News reported that a crackdown on illegal immigration has netted 277 arrests of people who were in the U.S. legally.

Pro-immigration groups are urging lawmakers to get involved.

But Border Patrol denies handing out incentives for arrests.

“No such practice of paid incentives and awards for specific human targets or enforcement actions has ever occurred within the Border Patrol, nor will it ever occur within the ranks of any [Customs and Border Protection] component,” the agency said in a statement to Buffalo News.

Jury Acquits Two Border Patrol Agents Accused of Committing a Lewd Act at Circus Show

Steve Neavling 

A jury acquitted two Border Patrol agents Monday of committing a lewd act at a crowded Cirque du Soleil show in Del Mar, Calif., U-T San Diego reports.

The only intimacy was hugging and kissing, Kallie Helwig, 25, and 35-year old Gerald Torello said during the trial. 

The jury deadlocked on a second lewd act count.

Helwig was convicted of misdemeanor battery for punching Navy Lt. Chai Wu, an audience member who had complained about the couple’s intimacy at the May 27 matinee.

Helwig was accused of performing oral sex on Torello during the show.