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Archive for August, 2013

No Verdict in ‘Whitey’ Bulger Case During Second Day of Deliberations

Whitey Bulger/fbi

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal jury will resume deliberations today in the racketeering and murder trial of accused mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger after submitting five questions for the judge, CNN reports.

The eight men and four women wanted to know whether they needed to vote unanimously on 33 “predicate” acts in one of the federal racketeering charges.

To be sure, there are a lot of charges to peruse. Bulger, 83, is charged with racketeering, murder, money laundering and 13 counts of extortion.

Father to Speak Out about Chechen Son Killed During FBI Interrogation in Orlando

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The father of the Chechen man who was fatally shot during an FBI interview in Orlando plans to speak out  Tuesday at a press conference, The Orland Sentinel reports

Abdulbaki Todashev recently traveled from Russia to the U.S. in search of answers about his son, Ibragim Todashev, a friend of one of the Boston Marathon bombers.

The FBI has refused to release any details about the fatal shooting during an interrogation at Todashev’s home in May.

During the press conference, Todashev plans to update the public on what he has learned and the status of a separate investigation by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Sentinel reported.

 

FBI Arrests Two South Florida Mayors on Extortion Bribery, Kickback Charges

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI arrested not one – but two – mayors in South Florida on bribery-related charges, the Associated Press reports.

On Tuesday, feds took into custody Sweetwater Mayor Manuel “Manny” Marono and Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi.

Both are accused of separate kickback and bribery schemes using federal grants.

Gov. Rick Scott ordered suspensions for both mayors.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST


Feds Accuse Detroit Area Oncologist of Some Outrageous Things

Dr. Farid Fata

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Under the category of “You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me” comes Dr. Farid Fata.

The feds claim that the 48-year-old oncologist from Oakland Township submitted false claims to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary, including chemotherapy treatments for patients. He was arrested Tuesday.

“Dr. Fata allegedly perpetrated a brazen and dangerous fraud that time and again jeopardized his patients’ wellbeing,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman said in a statement. “The conduct alleged today is chilling, with the defendant endangering patient safety through misdiagnoses, over- or mis-prescription of chemotherapy and other treatments, and delay of hospital care for patients with serious injuries.”

Authorities say that Dr. Fata owns and operates Michigan Hematology Oncology Centers (MHO), which has offices in Clarkston, Bloomfield Hills, Lapeer, Sterling Heights, Troy and Oak Park.

To read more click here.

Congress and DEA Should Legalize Hemp

 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com
Among the many varieties of weeds on my father’s Southwest Iowa farm in the 1950s and 60s was the hemp weed. Dad called it “ditch weed’ because that was where it mainly grew, along with in fence rows and sometimes in our cornfields. My brothers and I hated ditch weed because the plants grew to a considerable height if you didn’t keep it mowed or cut down, and they had extensive root systems which made it difficult to pull out of the ground.

Little did we know that these Cannabis Sativa L plants were cousins to a variety that would swamp the country, defy law enforcement for the next half century, and become the root cause of countless murders and violent crimes and the most widely used illegal drug in the world.

Awhile back, this column weighed the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana. The conclusion was that the unknown medical effects and health dangers of continued usage of today’s marijuana with its greatly increased THC content as well as the potential for escalated use particularly by America’s youth made legalization a bad idea. Some readers probably doubted the conclusion’s objectivity coming from a career drug prosecutor but that’s what I continue to think.

The continued prohibition of hemp cultivation and manufacturing, however, poses an entirely different set of questions.

The hemp plant has a long and storied history. It was used in the Neolithic Age in China to make paper more than 10,000 years ago. Its hardy nature and versatility spread its cultivation until it became one of the most produced agricultural plants in the world.

Its uses ranged widely from ropes on ships, clothing, food, and dozens of other products. It is claimed that Columbus’s ships’ riggings, the Gutenberg Bible, the paper on which the Declaration of Independence was written, and the first American flag were all made of hemp products. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers.

During World War II hemp was used to make uniforms and for other military products. The government considered it so important to the war effort that it produced a film entitled “Hemp for Victory” in 1942. Some irony there.

Hemp’s industrial future crashed in 1970 by its inclusion with marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance which was illegal to grow, sell or possess. Its close relationship to marijuana plants and the possibility of its use as a recreational drug perhaps made that a not unreasonable policy decision at the time.

There was limited scientific understanding of the psychoactivity of Cannabis varieties in 1970 and, even if that had been known, the difference of THC content between the two was not as dramatic as it is today. Ann Arbor pot dealers, when confronted with a dearth of product to sell to University of Michigan students were known to travel to Iowa, cut up some ditch weed, bag it up and sell it to eager consumers. Considering the low THC content, they would have had to share some monster joints for many hours on the Quad to get high. But they still bought it.

Today hemp weed still averages about ½% THC, not enough to produce a psychoactive effect. Although marijuana plants averaged about 1% in the 1970s, they can easily exceed 20% today. Plus hemp contains cannabidiol which some scientists believe has an opposing effect both pharmacologically and behaviorally to THC. But these were unknowns in 1970.

Whether it was a reasonable policy at the time to prohibit the production of hemp I will leave to others to debate. Perhaps today’s retrospective analysis of hemp’s aborted future is exaggerated. Maybe hemp’s day was essentially done, and it would have had limited impact in a more complex world of synthetics and agri-business.

Read more »

Parker: Congress and DEA Should Legalize Hemp

Ross Parker

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.
 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com
Among the many varieties of weeds on my father’s Southwest Iowa farm in the 1950s and 60s was the hemp weed. Dad called it “ditch weed’ because that was where it mainly grew, along with in fence rows and sometimes in our cornfields. My brothers and I hated ditch weed because the plants grew to a considerable height if you didn’t keep it mowed or cut down, and they had extensive root systems which made it difficult to pull out of the ground.

Little did we know that these Cannabis Sativa L plants were cousins to a variety that would swamp the country, defy law enforcement for the next half century, and become the root cause of countless murders and violent crimes and the most widely used illegal drug in the world.

Awhile back, this column weighed the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana. The conclusion was that the unknown medical effects and health dangers of continued usage of today’s marijuana with its greatly increased THC content as well as the potential for escalated use particularly by America’s youth made legalization a bad idea. Some readers probably doubted the conclusion’s objectivity coming from a career drug prosecutor but that’s what I continue to think.

The continued prohibition of hemp cultivation and manufacturing, however, poses an entirely different set of questions.

The hemp plant has a long and storied history. It was used in the Neolithic Age in China to make paper more than 10,000 years ago. Its hardy nature and versatility spread its cultivation until it became one of the most produced agricultural plants in the world.

Its uses ranged widely from ropes on ships, clothing, food, and dozens of other products. It is claimed that Columbus’s ships’ riggings, the Gutenberg Bible, the paper on which the Declaration of Independence was written, and the first American flag were all made of hemp products. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers.

During World War II hemp was used to make uniforms and for other military products. The government considered it so important to the war effort that it produced a film entitled “Hemp for Victory” in 1942. Some irony there.

Hemp’s industrial future crashed in 1970 by its inclusion with marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance which was illegal to grow, sell or possess. Its close relationship to marijuana plants and the possibility of its use as a recreational drug perhaps made that a not unreasonable policy decision at the time.

There was limited scientific understanding of the psychoactivity of Cannabis varieties in 1970 and, even if that had been known, the difference of THC content between the two was not as dramatic as it is today. Ann Arbor pot dealers, when confronted with a dearth of product to sell to University of Michigan students were known to travel to Iowa, cut up some ditch weed, bag it up and sell it to eager consumers. Considering the low THC content, they would have had to share some monster joints for many hours on the Quad to get high. But they still bought it.

Today hemp weed still averages about ½% THC, not enough to produce a psychoactive effect. Although marijuana plants averaged about 1% in the 1970s, they can easily exceed 20% today. Plus hemp contains cannabidiol which some scientists believe has an opposing effect both pharmacologically and behaviorally to THC. But these were unknowns in 1970.

Whether it was a reasonable policy at the time to prohibit the production of hemp I will leave to others to debate. Perhaps today’s retrospective analysis of hemp’s aborted future is exaggerated. Maybe hemp’s day was essentially done, and it would have had limited impact in a more complex world of synthetics and agri-business.

Read more »

Murder, Racketeering Trial of ‘Whitey’ Bulger Begins Second Day of Deliberations

 

Whitey Bulger/fbi

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Jurors in the murder and racketeering trial of suspected mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger will deliberate for the second day after both sides delivered their closing remarks Monday, the Boston Globe reports.

Bulger is charged with participating in 19 murders and wreaking havoc in Boston as the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang. He faces dozens of charges.

Deliberations ended for the day Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. and are expected to pick back up this morning.

Families of the victims didn’t stray far from the courtroom so they don’t miss the verdict being read.

“I feel relaxed, at ease with it, that it’s at the end and we’re here,” Steve Davis, whose 26-year-old sister Debra Davis was allegedly strangled by Bulger in 1981, told the Globe. “But it’s going to be nail-biting, jaw-crunching stress waiting for them to come back and wondering what they’re going to come back with.”

FBI Is Spying on Terrorism and Child Porn Suspects by Hacking Computers

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI is in the business of hacking computers.

Kind of. NBC reports that the FBI is installing malware and spyware on computers belonging to suspected terrorists or pedophiles, which allows agents to send a virus or other malware to spy on the suspects.

The hacking is so sophisticated that the FBI can switch on the webcam without the user ever knowing it, privacy activists said.

“In the last few years the FBI has created a team that has solely focused on delivering what we call malware — viruses and worms — to people’s computers to get control of them,” Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, told NBC News.

The FBI declined to comment for the story.