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Archive for February, 2013

Prosecution and Defense Can Finally Agree on Something: Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Liked Getting Cash

Kwame Kilpatrick/deadline detroit

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — One thing the defense and prosecution in the Kwame Kilpatrick public corruption trial can agree on: Kilpatrick likes cash.

Where they differ is where it came from.

The prosecution says plenty came from illegal bribes and kickbacks while Kilpatrick was mayor from 2002 to 2008. The defense insists Kilpatrick got cash from generous birthday and wedding gifts, some during and some before he was mayor. None, the defense claims, came from illegal activity.

To help prove that point, Kilpatrick’s attorney Jim Thomas, on Friday, on the second day of presenting his defense, showed jurors Kilpatrick’s wedding invitation in 1995 which said “Cash gifts preferred.”

By day’s end, even if the cash was all gotten legitimately, Kilpatrick came off as looking greedy.

In fact, one defense witness, Kizzi Montgomery, a former Kilpatrick aide who now works for Mayor Dave Bing, said she felt obligated, like other people in the administration, to give cash donations for Kilpatrick on Christmas and his birthday. She said she eventually gave $100 each time, but department directors were encouraged to give $500, and cabinet level officials, $1,000. She said some employees complained.

“They were expected,” Montgomery said of the gifts.

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U.S. Border Budget Exceeds Combined Budgets of FBI, ATF, Secret Service and ATF

Doris Meisnner
New York Times Column

Because the United States has experienced high levels of illegal immigration across the Mexican border from the early 1970s until the onset of the recession in 2008, border security and enforcement have been the dominant focus for immigration policymaking over decades, especially since 9/11. With it came deep public skepticism about the government’s will and ability to enforce immigration laws.

As Congress and the president negotiate border security as part of a broad immigration reform bill, it’s important to recognize that we already have formidable immigration enforcement machinery at work in the U.S. interior, and at the borders and beyond, because of sustained bipartisan support over successive administrations.

In a report, we note that the federal government spent nearly $18 billion in fiscal 2012 on its two main immigration enforcement agencies, Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and for its primary enforcement technology, United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology. That is 24 percent more than what was spent on all other federal criminal law enforcement agencies – the F.B.I., D.E.A., Secret Service, Marshal’s Service and A.T.F. — combined. In the 26 years since the Immigration Reform and Control Act ushered in the current era of immigration control policies, the nation has spent nearly $187 billion ($219 billion in 2012 dollars) on immigration enforcement.

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STORIES OF OTHER INTEREST

Some Congressional Members Calling for Probe of Botched ATF Sting Operation in Milwaukee

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Federal officials are calling for an investigation into ATF after a flawed sting operation in Milwaukee, the Associated Press reports.

The ATF raided a storefront operation in search of felons committing drug and gun offenses but never made a major arrest.

During the raid of Fearless Distributing, which sold designer clothing, drug paraphernalia, athletic shoes and jewelry, the ATF left behind a military-style machine gun and appears to be responsible for $35,000 in stolen merchandise from the store, the AP wrote.

The ATF shut down the store but left behind a document listing names, vehicles and phone numbers of undercover agents, the AP wrote.

That’s just the beginning of blunders the ATF made, according to the AP.

Sen. Menendez Wielded Influence to Help Businessman Accused of Providing Him with Young Prostitutes

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Before FBI agents raided the office a South Florida eye doctor accused of paying for young prostitutes for Sen. Bob Menendez, the Democratic senator from New Jersey helped used his influence to advocate for a $1 billion business for the doctor, the Miami Herald reports.

The Herald wrote that Menendez was urging the Obama administration in July to help Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Palm Beach County eye doctor, intervene in a contract dispute with the Dominican Republic.

According to the Herald, Melgen was hoping to enforce a contract his business won to X-ray Dominican Republic port cargo.

“You have another company that has American investors that … has a contract actually given to it by the — ratified by the Dominican Congress — to do X-ray of all of the cargo that goes through the ports,” Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, said at the July 31 hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. “And they don’t want to live by that contract either.”

Menedez’s office said the senator did nothing inappropriate.

Jury: Somali-Born Bombing Suspect Guilty of Terrorism After Portland Bombing Attempt

 Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Somali-American who claimed the FBI manipulated him to detonate what he thought was a bomb at a Christmas tree ceremony in Portland in 2010 was found guilty Thursday of terrorism-related charges, the Associated Press reports.

The Mohamed Mohamud, 21, who did not testify, will be sentenced May 14.

Prosecutors were able to convince jurors that Mohamud intended to kill a lot of people in the name of radical Islam and that he was not entrapped by FBI agents who offered to help him create a bomb, the AP reported.

“Mr. Mohamud made a series of choices over a period of several years – choices that were leading him down a path that would have ended in violence,” said Greg Fowler, who leads the FBI office in Portland. “His actions showed little regard for the rights and responsibilities that come with being an American or respect for the lives that he was prepared to take.”

Mohamud’s attorney, Steve Sady, said he plans to appeal after sentencing on May 14.

“We are disappointed with the verdict,” Mohamud’s attorney, Steve Sady, said. “We obviously though he was entrapped.”

FBI Hostage Negotiator Urges Kidnapper to Surrender, Hand Over Boy in Alabama

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As a hostage standoff reaches a fourth day in Alabama, authorities are hoping the kidnapper grows tired and surrenders as a FBI hostage negotiator talks with the suspect through plastic ventilation pipes, CNN reports

On Tuesday afternoon the suspect boarded a bus stop, killed the bus driver and grabbed two children. One of them escaped.

The gunman is holed up in an underground bunker.

An FBI hostage negotiator has been communicating with the suspect through an underground bunker four feet beneath the ground, CNN report.

“They’re taking time and trying to wear him out,” said Police Chief James Arrington of Pinckard, who is familiar with details of the case.

The motive of the kidnapping is unclear.

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