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Archive for July, 2015

Appeals Court Upholds Second-Degree Murder Conviction of Ex-FBI Agent John Connolly

connollyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Agent John Connolly, who was charged with assisting now-imprisoned mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, was rightfully convicted of second-degree murder with a firearm even though he was 1,500 miles away from his vicim at the time of the fatal shooting by a hit man, an appeals court ruled, the Associated Press reports. 

The full 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled 6-4 that Connolly’s conviction was proper because Connolly had a gun when he tipped off Bulger’s gang about John Callahan, who was fatally shot in Fort. Lauderdale in 1982.

“The evidence as to both his participation in the murder and his possession of a firearm during his participation are overwhelming,” Judge Leslie Rothenberg wrote on behalf of the majority. “The law does not require that the defendant be the actual shooter.”

The decision reverses that of a three-judge panel of the same court, the AP wrote.

FBI Says Twitter Needs to Do More to Monitor Site for Terrorism-Related Activity

twitterBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Could Twitter do more to stop terrorists from recruiting others?

It’s a debate waging in the Senate after an FBI official told Fox Business News that Twitter “needs to do more in setting up teams to troll, monitor and review all terrorist-related tweets and content.”

Twitter fired back that it notifies authorities of immediate threats and shuts down terrorist-related accounts. But a Twitter spokesman said, “Like all of our technology industry peers, we do not proactively monitor content.:”

A 2016 funding bill would require Twitter and other social media companies to report terrorism, but it was blocked earlier this week by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

“Internet companies should not be subject to broad requirements to police the speech of their users,” Wyden said.

Wyden said stopping terrorism is a top priority, “But I haven’t yet heard any law enforcement or intelligence agencies suggest that this provision will actually help catch terrorists.”

Body Cam Leads to Murder Charge Against Cincinnati Cop Who Shot Unarmed Motorist

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Who knows what would have happened if a University of Cincinnati cop wasn’t wearing a body cam.

But he was, and on Wednesday he was indicted on a murder charge for shooting an unarmed black man in the head during a minor traffic stop, the New York Times reports. 

Prosecutors called it “a senseless, asinine shooting.”

The video showed that Officer Ray Tensing was lying when he said he was being dragged by Samuel Dubose’s car.

A grand jury indicted the officer Wednesday on a murder charge, which is punishable by up to life in prison.

“This doesn’t happen in the United States, OK?” The Hamilton County prosecuting attorney, Joseph T. Deters, said. “This might happen in Afghanistan. People don’t get shot for a traffic stop.”

He added: “This office has probably reviewed 100 police shootings, and this is the first time we’ve thought, ‘This is without question a murder,’” he said.

Other Stories of Interest

Rep. Chaka Fattah, Associates Indicted on Racketeering Conspiracy Charges

Rep. Chaka Fattah

Rep. Chaka Fattah

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Rep. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania and four associates were indicted by a grand jury Wednesday on racketeering conspiracy charges, accused of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes and charity and campaign funds.

The 58-year-old Democrat from Philadelphia was charged in a 29-count indictment along with lobbyist Herbert Vederman, 69, of Palm Beach, Florida; Fattah’s Congressional District Director Bonnie Bowser, 59, of Philadelphia; and Robert Brand, 69, of Philadelphia; and Karen Nicholas, 57, of Williamstown, New Jersey, the FBI announced Wednesday.

They are accused of bribery, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and numerous counts of bank fraud, money laundering, making false statements to a financial institution and falsification of records.

“As charged in the indictment, Congressman Fattah and his associates embarked on a wide-ranging conspiracy involving bribery, concealment of unlawful campaign contributions and theft of charitable and federal funds to advance their own personal interests,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said. “When elected officials betray the trust and confidence placed in them by the public, the department will do everything we can to ensure that they are held accountable. Public corruption takes a particularly heavy toll on our democracy because it undermines people’s basic belief that our elected leaders are committed to serving the public interest, not to lining their own pockets.”

“These crimes and the subsequent elaborate cover-up constitute an egregious breach of public trust,” said Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Hanko of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “It is the duty of the FBI, IRS and Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute those who violate this trust and put personal gain above public service.”

Some of the charges date back to Fattah’s failed 2007 campaign for mayor of Philadelphia. He and his associates are accused of borrowing $1 million from a wealthy supporter and concealing the funds with sham contracts.

Fattah also is accused of trying to pay down a $130,000 campaign debt by attempting to steer federal grants to the consult with whom he owed money by inventing a nonprofit.

Ohio Homeland Security Chief Dies After Decades of Helping Residents

Richard Baron

Richard Baron

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Ohio Homeland Security lost its leader.

Richard Baron, executive director of the agency, died Tuesday following an illness, the Columbus Dispatch. 

Baron, 54, of Westerville, headed up security issues since September 2011.

Before taking the top Homeland Security job, Baron served 25 years with the State Highway Patrol and retired as captain in 2012. Prior to his State Highway Patrol job, Baron was a police officer and firefighter.

“He was an inspirational leader … a good man in every sense,” Department of Public Safety Director John Born said of his patrol academy classmate from 1987.

Facebook Posts Lead FBI to Florida Man Accused of Planning to Detonate Nail Bomb

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has arrested an alleged ISIS sympathizer who investigators say planned to detonate a nail-rigged backpack bomb on a Florida beach, the Guardian reports. 

Prosecutors charged 23-year-old Harlem Suarez of Key West with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in the U.S.

Suarez attracted authorities because of provocative Facebook posts supporting ISIS.

“Be a warrior, learn how to cut your enemies head and then burn down the body learn how to be the new future of the world Caliphate,” Suarez allegedly posted.

Suarez appeared in a Miami court for the first time Tuesday and was held without bail.

Top-Ranking Justice Department Official in Criminal Division Leaving for New Job

Marshall Miller

Marshall Miller

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The criminal division of the Justice Department is about to lose one of its top-ranking officials.

The New York Times reports that Marshall L. Miller plans to step down as the criminal division’s second highest in command at month’s end.

The longtime federal prosecutor plans to take a job with New York University with plans to eventually join the private sector.

Miller served as the chief of staff of the criminal division’s leader, Leslie R. Caldwell, overseeing about 600 prosecutors who worked on cases ranging from public corruption to Wall Street misconduct.

“Marshall Miller is an outstanding attorney, a remarkable public servant and an unwavering advocate for the principles of justice,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said.

Miller plans to join the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement at the New York University School of Law.

New DEA Chief: Marijuana ‘Probably Not’ As Dangerous As Heroin

Marijuana

Photo by Steve Neavling

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The new head of the DEA says marijuana is “probably not” as dangerous as heroin, a position that was in contrast to his predecessor, the U.S. News & World Report. 

Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said the DEA would not prioritize marijuana enforcement, but emphasized that agents are still going to pursue pot cases.

“If you want me to say that marijuana’s not dangerous, I’m not going to say that because I think it is,” Rosenberg said. “Do I think it’s as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I’m not an expert.”

He added: “Let me say it this way: I’d rather be in a car accident going 30 miles an hour than 60 miles an hour, but I’d prefer not to be in a car accident at all.”

Marijuana advocates praised Rosenberg for being less aggressive with marijuana than his predecessor, Michele Leonhart.

“This is not a matter of opinion,” Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, says. “It’s far less harmful than heroin and it’s encouraging that the DEA is finally willing to recognize that.”

Other Stories of Interest