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Archive for January, 2014

Congressmen Issa and Jordan Rip Justice Department Over Investigation into IRS

Darrell Issa

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif), a big critic of Attorney Gen. Eric Holder,  and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio),  are lashing out at the Justice Department, criticizing it over its investigation into the IRS treatment of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

The two are  questioning the Justice Department’s assignment of Barbara Bosserman, a Justice Department trial attorney, who is heading the probe into the IRS. The two say she donated at least $6,750 to President Obama’s election campaigns and the Democratic National Committee in the past several years.

“By selecting a significant donor to President Obama to lead an investigation into the inappropriate targeting of conservative groups, the Department has created a startling conflict of interest,” they wrote in a letter to Attorney Gen. Eric Holder.

“It is unbelievable that the Department would choose such an individual to examine the federal government’s systematic targeting and harassment of organizations opposed to the President’s policies,” the letter continues. “At the very least, Ms. Bosserman’s involvement is highly inappropriate and has compromised the Administration’s investigation of the IRS.”

Read the letter in full.

 

FBI Special Agent in New Jersey Becomes Popular Face Behind Corruption Cases

 

Mayor Tony Mack

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

FBI Special Agent Michael Doyle is becoming somewhat of a celebrity in New Jersey.

The 17-year-veteran of tackling white collar crime and political corruption cases may best be known for bringing down the once-powerful Newark Mayor Sharpe James, who served 18 months in prison on corruption charges.

The Trentonian is reporting that Doyle also led the two-year investigation that prompted similar charges against Trenton Mayor Tony F. Mack.

Doyle is expected to take the stand for the third day today in the Mack case to explain how he nabbed the mayor.

 

Justice Department Investigates Whether Laws Broken During New Jersey Bridge Scandal

Christopher Christie

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal investigators are trying to determine whether any laws were broken during the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge between New York and New Jersey, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The Port Authority Office of Inspector General has referred the matter to us, and our office is reviewing the matter to determine whether a federal law was implicated,” Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in New Jersey, said.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s close aides are accused of engineering the traffic lane by closing lanes leading to the bridge, the Journal wrote.

Whether a crime was committed is another question.

“There’s federal funds in this thing, but does that mean there’s a federal crime? It’s hard to tell right now if there’s anything like that,” Stephen Ryan, a former federal prosecutor, said. “The real risk in a thing like this is a coverup or a lie to investigators.”

httpv://youtu.be/LLANg3im0jY

Robots to Help Border Patrol Capture Illegal Activity in Tunnel Systems Between Mexico, U.S.

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Tunnel systems that run between the U.S. and Mexico border are used to transport drugs, people, weapons and other illegal material.

Now, Border Patrol agents are using robot technology to detect tunnels, the Associated Press reports.

Agents in Tucson, Ariz., plan to demonstrate the “tunnel robots” Tuesday.

According to CBP, tunnels are becoming increasingly popular for criminal organizations.

More than 75 tunnels have been found between the border since 2008, the AP wrote.

Local Police Department Nab Border Patrol Agent on Accusations of Child Molestation

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A local police department in Texas credited tag readers for the arrest of a U.S. Border Patrol agent accused of child molestation, the Loganville Patch reports.

The alert from the license plate reader indicated the owner of the car had an outstanding warrant.  Under the system, a camera reads license plates of parked and moving cars — hundreds per minute — and checks them against vehicle databases.

“[The officer] initiated a traffic stop [and] was able to confirm out of Del Rio, Texas, that the person driving the vehicle was wanted for indecent acts with a child,” Assistant Police Chief Dick Lowry said.

The identify of the officer is unclear.

Investigator Assigned to DEA Runs for Sheriff in Alabama County, Says He’s Worried about Heroin

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A 35-year-old  investigator assigned to the DEA office in Birmingham, Ala. announced he’s running for sheriff in the Alabama county of Cullman, where he also served as head of the Cullman Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Cullman Times reports.

Matt Gentry is running as a Republican to replace incumbent Mike Rainey in the June 3 primary.

“As sheriff, my office will be one that is held accountable —focusing from the top down,” Gentry said. “I will manage a more proactive and professional law enforcement agency, focusing on the needs of the citizens.”

Gentry said his law enforcement experience will help curtail the use of drugs and said he fears that heroin may soon replace meth as the drug of choice in Cullman County.

Since Jan. 2011, he’s worked for the Cullman County District Attorney’s Office as an investigator assigned to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Birmingham field office where he covers Cullman County, the paper reported. He’s temporarily resigned the position this month while he campaigns.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST


History: Perpetuating A Myth — The 1934 Crime Bills & FBI Weaponry

 
By Larry Wack
Retired FBI Agent

Within the culture of law enforcement, the many myths and legends do not always take on the human form of dusty lawmen with the sun at their backs, blue suits or brazen detectives.

The FBI is no exception. Not being able to escape one myth with regard to early firearms, credit for it can be attributed to a variety of factors. Included are mistaken interpretations, some distortions and oversight of the evidence.

Since the “Roaring Twenties,”there have been numerous accounts about the crime wave of that era and the U. S. Government’s efforts to fight back against the increased violence. Continuing with the mounted “war on crime”

in the early 1930s, the general media has touched upon the May/June crime bills of 1934. Within those bills, Congress made a variety of crimes such as bank robbery, kidnappings (and more) violations of federal law. The law also expanded and made uniform the FBI’s authority in the areas of arrests and use of firearms. Leaving aside changes in arrest authority for purposes here, the enacted law (18 USC 3052) of 1934 said about firearms “…Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation may carry weapons…”

Historically, between the Bureau’s founding and 1934, Congress did not legislate the Bureau’s powers of arrest and use of weapons. The 1 root of any firearms use prior to 1934 would lie in the 2nd Amendment. Prior to enactment of 18 USC 3052, agents most certainly had the same power to make arrests and to carry firearms as any private citizen. Having to obtain permits and licenses for their firearms in accordance with state and local laws was not uncommon, especially in the area of local laws pertaining to “concealment.” The 1934 legislation provided “relief” from these obstacles as the war on crime escalated and agents became more involved in interstate travels along with increased shooting incidents.

Read more »

“Mark From Michigan”: Dumb and Dumber


Mark Koernke

 Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.
  
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com
Mark and I never really hit it off.

I first met Mark Koernke in the late ‘80s. Gene Ward, a fellow FBI agent, had asked me to accompany him on an interview of Koernke. We met with Koernke in his basement office at Alice Lloyd Hall, a University of Michigan dormitory, where he was a janitor.

Ward was investigating a potential hate crime, the painting of some racial epithets on a home. It had been suggested that Koernke might know something about it. Koernke denied that he had any knowledge, and we concluded that he most probably had no connection to the graffiti painting.

During the course of the interview, Koernke made it known that he had been an intelligence officer in the Army, and in addition he was a counter intelligence expert. He said, he continued to train US military units regarding tactics of foreign militaries. I made no secret of my skepticism of Koernke’s background and questioned some of his conspiracy theories he apparently felt compelled to share with us.

This all pre-dated Koernke’s semi-notoriety, later he would have a national following as “Mark from Michigan” and his own radio show “The Intelligence Report.”

He was an early purveyor of the “New World Order,” which he believed was a world-wide conspiracy. As best as I’ve been able to understand, the New World Order involves the takeover of the US by the United Nations which is fronting for some insidious international cabal that wants to institute international socialism. Part of this conspiracy was the building of secret concentration camps in the western US to house those who would be unwilling to accept the New World Order. Among other things, “black helicopters” were being used to spy on Americans.

The black helicopters and Mark from Michigan became synonymous. The New World Order was supposed to have happened by now, but it hasn’t and maybe that’s because Koernke has been on watch. I think Koernke perceived himself to be the “intellectual” underpinning of the militia movement – sort of a latter day Thomas Paine.

Anyway our paths continued to cross. There were the times I saw him surveilling the federal building parking lot. I guess he was trying to log our movements for intelligence purposes. I would wave to him, and he would hide.

During the late 80s and early 90s the militia movement grew dramatically. The high-water mark came soon after the bombing of the Murray federal building in Oklahoma City.

Many people in the movement were shocked and disgusted by the slaughter of innocent people including children. They did not want to be identified with a philosophy that condoned such acts. (In contrast Koernke espoused the theory that the government actually did the bombing to set-up Timothy McVeigh and to destroy records that proved the “Gulf War Syndrome” was real. He didn’t really explain why those records were in Oklahoma City.)

As the militia movement diminished, there were some internal conflicts.

In 1997, in Michigan, one member of the militia was murdered and other members were charged with the murder. Although Koernke was never believed to be involved, he was subpoenaed to be a witness. When a process server showed up on Koernke’s porch, an argument ensued.

Greg Stejskal

Apparently Koernke threatened the server with a rifle resulting in Koernke being charged with assault with a dangerous weapon. Koernke’s trial date was in May, 1998, but Koernke didn’t appear for the trial, and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. In June a federal fugitive warrant for Koernke was issued based on my affidavit stating there was reason to believe he had fled from Michigan.

While Koernke was a fugitive, he continued his shortwave radio broadcasts from various undisclosed locations. He mentioned me several times in unflattering terms. He also said, that unless the federal charges were dropped, “a lot of their (FBI) people might get hurt.”

The following July a Michigan State Police helicopter was searching for marijuana growing plots in rural Barry County (just north of Battle Creek, Michigan). The helicopter crew observed a pickup truck, a man and a woman near an abandoned mobile home.

When the helicopter came in for a closer look, the man, Koernke, began running. I don’t know if the helicopter was black, but it must have been unsettling for Koernke to have a helicopter seemingly coming for him. Koernke then jumped into a shallow lake where only his head was showing. (Presumably Koernke was looking for a hollow reed so he could breathe while submerged like in so many old movies.)

When the police ground units arrived Koernke was persuaded to come out of the water, but not before giving a one finger salute. Koernke told the police he was Michael Kerns. He was affecting an Irish brogue and had attempted to dye his hair red although the result was closer to orange. Several weapons were found in the pickup including an AR-15 and a semi-automatic AK-47. Kerns/Koernke was taken into custody and lodged in the Barry County jail in Hastings.

It was suspected that Kerns might be Koernke, but a positive identification would take hours as there was not yet a way to electronically transmit fingerprints to locations where his prints were on file. That night the Barry County Sheriff called me and asked if I could come to his jail to identify Koernke.

When I arrived at Barry County Sheriff’s Office, there sat Mark Koernke with orange hair and no mustache. I greeted Mark by name, but he acted like he didn’t know me and was talking in a terrible Irish brogue and said his name was Michael Kerns.

I told him that I needed to ask him a few questions, but first I had to advise him of his rights. After advising him, I passed him the acknowledgement form and asked him to sign it which he did. I looked at the form and asked him if he realized he had signed the form “Mark Koernke.” He looked totally crest fallen.

In August 1999, after again being placed on bond, he was tried on the assault charge and found guilty. The judge sentenced him to 80 days in jail, but he was credited with time served and given probation.

Koernke continued his shortwave broadcasts and hawking his videocassettes with titles like “America in Peril” to a somewhat diminished audience. But our paths were destined to cross one more time.

In March 2000, there was a bank robbery in downtown Dexter, Michigan, Koernke’s hometown. I responded to the robbery and was in route when I heard radio traffic describing a suspect vehicle, an ’85 white Plymouth Fury. A sheriff’s deputy had stopped a car matching that description, but when he approached the car, it sped off. A high-speed chase ensued that lasted 40 minutes. During the chase the officers became aware that the car was Mark Koernke’s, and he appeared to be driving it.

The police were able to cut-off Koernke. He tried to ram a police car and run-over a deputy. Then he decided to drive cross-country across a field, but ended up hitting a tree. He got out and ran toward a channel of a lake. There he again executed his water escape and evasion tactic, swimming across the channel. The police caught up to him on the other side.

As a MSP trooper with his gun drawn approached Koernke, Koernke shoved him. The trooper displayed remarkable restraint and didn’t shoot him, but rather subdued and handcuffed Koernke.

I had proceeded to the bank and quickly learned Koernke was not the bank robber. (We later caught the actual bank robber who was responsible for several other robberies.) Apparently Koernke, a customer of the bank, had stopped in the street in front of the bank. He had his son get out of the car to place a deposit in the bank’s ATM. The son after making the deposit ran back to the car. He was wearing a baseball cap as was the bank robber.

Witnesses outside the bank saw this, and when they were questioned about the bank robbery, thought they had witnessed the getaway. A description of the car was broadcast which led to Koernke being stopped and then the chase began.

It is not clear to me why Koernke fled from the police. There were no helicopters up that day. He later claimed that he feared for the safety of his 2 sons who were in the car, but they remained in the car for a good portion of the high speed chase. (Koernke had them get out of the car before he was forced to stop.)

In March 2001, Koernke was convicted of fleeing from the police, assault with a dangerous weapon (his car) and resisting and obstructing. The trial and sentencing were before the same judge as his first trial. But the judge was far less sympathetic this time. She sentenced him on each count to run concurrently with 7 years being the maximum time in prison. It would be about 3 years if he were paroled. He did not get along well in prison and did close to the maximum time.

On March 15, 2007, Koernke completed his sentence. He has resumed doing the shortwave broadcasts of his “The Intelligence Report,” most recently carried on Liberty Tree Radio. In addition he has many videos available on You Tube. I’m guessing drones and the NSA/Snowden revelations are giving him a lot of new material.

httpv://youtu.be/K9XLuuhtmt8