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February 2014


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for February, 2014

Weekend Series on Crime History: FBI’s Donnie Brasco


Mentally Ill Man Gets 15 Years in Prison for Plotting to Blow up Bank of America in California

Steve Neavling

A homegrown terror plot in California was so fanciful and bizarre that few people believe the California suspect could have pulled it off.

Nevertheless, a judge sentenced Aaron Llaneza to 15 years in prison Thursday for trying to blow up a Bank of America in Oakland with a fake bomb, which investigators provided, the Associated Press reports.

Llaneza, who is mentally ill, doesn’t have the capacity to do actual damage, his attorney said.

“Matthew was not a radicalized jihadist but rather a delusional, severely mentally disturbed young man; he had no technical skills to speak of,”  Assistant Federal Public Defender Jerome Matthews wrote in a memo. “He had no training or background that would have helped him to accomplish an actual bombing; he was preternaturally suggestible and desirous of being accepted; and, not least, he had no desire to inflict mass casualties.”

Federal investigators disagreed.

“Defendants’ offense conduct here was very serious. He knowingly and willfully participated in a plan to blow up a bank building. He created the plan and selected the target. He helped build what he believed to be a large bomb to accomplish the plan. He drove the bomb to the bank building, placed it in a location designed to maximize its destructive force, then attempted to detonate it twice,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Caputo wrote in the memo. “Had the bomb been real, it would have destroyed at least a portion of the building and easily could have killed or seriously injured innocent bystanders.”

Lawmakers Call for FBI Investigation of Private Prison in Idaho Over Understaffing, Falsified Records

Steve Neavling

A private prison in Idaho is under fire for possible criminal wrongdoing.

Top Democratic lawmakers in the state are urging the FBI to investigate Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison company based in Tennessee, because the state lacks the manpower and expertise to handle such a large inquiry, the Associated Press reports.

The company admitted last year that it understaffed the Idaho Correctional Center, the largest prison in the state, and that employees falsified records to cover up the vacancies.

“We request that the FBI investigate whether CCA, its employees, or its officers and leadership engaged in criminal conduct and defrauded the state of Idaho and our citizens by falsifying time sheets over many years to hide chronic understaffing. We also ask that you use your expertise to define the nature and scope of any investigation since the full nature of the potential criminal activities is, at present, unknown,” a group of lawmakers wrote.

Authorities: Border Patrol Agent Threatens Family with Gun, Kills Dog Because Wife Wouldn’t Kiss Him

Steve Neavling 

A Border Patrol agent became so enraged when his wife wouldn’t kiss him that he threatened his family with a gun, shoved his wife and then shot their dog, Las Cruces Sun-News reports.

Carmelo Diaz Jr., 44, of Las Cruces was charged with three felonies, including aggravated assault against a family member and extreme animal cruelty.

His wife told police that when she refused to kiss her husband Wednesday, he pinned her to the ground and then threatened to commit suicide with a .40-caliber handgun.

Soon after, Diaz is accused of pointing the gun at his wife and their teenage son.

When they fled, he shot and paralyzed the family’s mixed-breed dog, which had to be euthanized.


HBO “Girls” Star Lena Dunham Detained by TSA Over ‘Cute Little Cat’ Keychain

Steve Neavling

“Girls” star and creator Lena Dunham was detained by the TSA recently for possessing what she considered a “cute little cat” at Los Angeles International Airport, Today reports.

Dunham was carrying a “self-defense key chain.”

Lena Dunham

“It’s shaped like a cat — it goes over your knuckles,” she told Seth Meyers on “Late Night” on Thursday, “but I guess the two ears could gut somebody.”

TSA agents conducted a criminal background check and refused to let Dunham make calls while they investigated.

“I understood sort of intellectually it could be used as a weapon,” she added, “but really all I thought was like, What a cute little cat!”

DEA Accuses Man of Selling Heroin from Doggy Daycare Center

Steve Neavling

The DEA wasn’t barking up the wrong tree when agents raided a doggy daycare in Washington state.

King 5 News reports that Arlington Doggy Daycare was selling heroin out of its business in Arlingotn.

Busted was 42-year-old David Funk, who was charged this week with knowingly and internationally distributing heroin.

Funk also lives in a mobile home on the property of Arlington Doggy Daycare.

His relationship with the business wasn’t immediately clear.


ATF official Tom Brandon: No New Stings Underway After Botched Operations

Tom Brandon/atf photo

By John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

WASHINGTON — After running nearly 40 undercover storefront stings in the last five years, the ATF’s deputy director says no such operations are now underway and that improvements in oversight have been made in the wake of botched operations nationwide.

Deputy Director Thomas E. Brandon testified Thursday before the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, and acknowledged significant deficiencies in undercover storefront stings saying there was no justification for having the wrong people charged, as happened in Milwaukee, or the lack of outside cover teams to ensure armed felons didn’t leave.

He called locating an undercover gun-buying operation in Portland, Ore., across the street from a middle school “a mistake” and said it “wasn’t great judgment” for agents there to pay two teens to get tattoos depicting the fake storefront’s logo of a giant squid smoking a joint.

He said the young men requested the tattoos — testimony that conflicts with the account of events described in court by the prosecuting attorney.

To read more click here.

Read Tom Brandon’s statement


Update: Attorney General Eric Holder is Fine and Home From the Hospital

Update: Thursday, 4:30 p.m. — Attorney Gen. Eric Holder was released from the hospital this afternoon.  The Justice Department issued a statement:

“The Attorney General has been discharged from MedStar Washington Hospital Center. He was taken there earlier today as a precaution, after experiencing lightheadedness and shortness of breath during a senior staff meeting at the Justice Department in Washington.

“The Attorney General arrived at the hospital at approximately 10:30 am, and was treated for an elevated heart rate. He received medication that quickly restored his heart rate to a normal level, and after successfully completing a full range of tests, doctors were satisfied that the Attorney General could be discharged.

“He departed the hospital at 1:15 pm. He walked out without any assistance, and has returned home, where he is resting comfortably.

By Allan Lengel

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has a stressful job, and perhaps the stress peeked its head on Thursday.

The Justice Department reported that as a precaution after feeling faint and being short of breath Thursday during a morning staff meeting, Holder was taken MedStar Washington Hospital Center by ambulance. He appears to be doing fine.

The Justice Department issued a statement saying:

“During his regular morning meeting with senior staff, the Attorney General began experiencing symptoms including faintness and shortness of breath. As a precaution, the Attorney General was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center to undergo further evaluation. He is currently resting comfortably and in good condition. He is alert and conversing with his doctors. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.”

He will remain in the hospital for testing, the station reported.