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Archive for December, 2015

Man Accused of Helping San Bernardino Attackers Was Quiet Nerd And Recent Convert of Islam

Enrique Marquez, via Facebook.

Enrique Marquez, via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

To many people who knew him, Enrique Marquez was a quiet nerd who worked at Walmart and was a part-time security guard at a bar.

About a month before the San Bernardino massacre, Marquez left a bizarre Facebook post: “No one really knows me. I lead multiple lives and I’m wondering when it’s all going to collapse on me.”

Marquez, it turns out, was a childhood friend and neighbor Syed Rizwan Farook, who opened fire with his wife at a holiday party in San Bernardino, CNN reports.

The 24-year-old is accused of illegally purchasing a pair of rifles that Farook and his wife used in the attack.

A 36-page affidavit by the FBI depicted Marquez as a recent convert to Islam who transformed into a potential terrorist plotting several attacks, including a massacre at a community college and a pipe bomb and rifle attack during rush hour on a Southern California freeway.

The affidavit explained that Marquez began buying guns and ammunition in late 2011 as he prepared an attack. He and Farook trained together at local firing ranges.

FBI Investigates Whether Pennsylvania Man Accused of Supporting ISIS Communicated with Terrorists

Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz

Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Days after they FBI arrested a 19-year-old Pennsylvania man accused of using 57 social media accounts to promote ISIS, their attention has turned to whether he was acting alone or had acquaintances, Penn Live reports.

“The goal is to find out who he’s been dealing with in order to see if there are others in the U.S. or outside the U.S.,” said John Weaver, an intelligence analysis coordinator and assistant professor of intelligence analysis at York College. “The FBI is probably exploiting his phone records and computers to find out who he talked to, what sites he went to, what messages were sent and received.”

To determine whether Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz had help or was receiving information from terrorists, the FBI is combing through his social media counts and text messages, which have been how many would-be terrorists are communicating.

“By identifying one individual, they can possibly identify a network,” said Charles Palmer, an associate professor of interactive media at Harrisburg University.

But the concern is that the messages may have been encrypted.

“There are a lot of ways computer forensic experts can pull information off of a computer. If it’s encrypted, all they’re pulling is a bunch of jibberish,” said Chuck Davis, corporate faculty professor of computer forensics and ethical hacking at Harrisburg University.

Was Uber’s Competitor Responsible for Data Breach? Justice Department Investigates

uberBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is investigating a 2014 data breach at Uber to determine whether its competitor, Lyft, or any of its employees were involved, Reuters reported. 

The probe is focused on a breach that led to 50,000 Uber drivers’ names and their license plates numbers being illegally downloaded.

Uber’s investigation revealed that Lyft’s technology chief, Chris Lambert, may have been involved because an internet addresses in the case can be traced to him.

Lambert’s attorney, Miles Ehrlich, said his client “had nothing to do” with the breach.

“Given that Uber apparently lost driver data, a law enforcement investigation is to be expected,” Ehrlich said. “And the benefit is that the culprit here is going to be identified – and that’s going to remove Chris’ name from any conversation about Uber’s data breach, as it should.”

Lyft said in a statement Friday that “we have not been contacted by the DOJ, U.S. Attorney’s office or any other state or federal government agency regarding any investigation.”

Residents, Local Law Enforcement Concerned about Homeland Security Helicopter Flying Over Michigan City

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 8.44.02 AMBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Residents and local law enforcement have raised serious questions about why a Homeland Security helicopter was spotted flying over the area of Bad Axe, Michigan, WWJ reports.

Hoping to find out more about the helicopter and the reason it was flying over the area, Huron County Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson called the Aviation Unit in Detroit.

“I wasn’t satisfied with their answer to say the least, but I was told [the helicopter] was taking photos,” he explained. “I made them well aware that people are concerned, especially with what’s going on in the media.”

An email obtained by the Huron Daily Tribune suggested the helicopter was on a routine mission along the U.S.-Canada border.

“The Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch is responsible for more than 1,000 miles of international border with Canada, which is patrolled by both aircraft and vessels,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection Public Affairs Officer Kris Grogan said in the email.

Pennsylvania Police Officer Accused of Stealing Money from Drug Trafficker During FBI Sting

police lightsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It appeared to be a routine stop, but it was anything but.

When a Fairview Township, Pa., police officer pulled over a car, the occupant was supposed to be a drug dealer traveling with a lot of money, YDR.com reports. 

Turns out, the driver was actually an undercover FBI agent whose car was outfitted with video surveillance. And the officer who pulled him over was working as a confidential informant for the FBI.

The investigation centered around another Fairview Township officer, 17-year veteran Tyson Baker.

The sting worked exactly as planned.

After Baker arrived as back up, he towed the car to a secluded garage and is accused of stealing $3,000 from a backpack.

On Friday, he was arrested and charged with violating the Hobbs Act, which bars authorities from interfering with interstate commerce.

Other Stories of Interest

Three Key Criminal Cases Before the U.S. Supreme Court in January

US_Supreme_Court

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The Supremes will consider three criminal cases in oral arguments scheduled for January 12 and 13. The effect of the decisions are not broad, but the cases illustrate the Court’s responsibility to keep the criminal justice system as construed by the lower courts consistent, rational, and based on precedent.

Those who are not part of the criminal justice system are often surprised when they learn that Double Jeopardy does not prevent separate sovereigns from launching separate prosecutions for the same conduct by a defendant. The most common example is when a defendant faces charges from a single course of conduct in both state and federal court. An acquittal or conviction in one jurisdiction does not preclude charges in another since each has the right to define and punish offenses committed in its jurisdiction.

Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle will decide whether that territory and the federal government are separate sovereigns permitting dual prosecutions. First, a bit of history. The United States obtained the island from Spain after the Spanish American War in 1898. It was a “splendid little war” which made the U.S. a colonial power and made Teddy Roosevelt the President. What could establish his executive qualifications better than the ability to lead a bunch of cowboys and polo players up San Juan Hill?

After the treaty in 1899 Congress established a civil government there with the Governor and the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico appointed by the President and any laws passed by the legislature submitted to Congress for potential annulment. In 1950 Congress offered Puerto Rico a “compact” of self-government. The islanders passed a Constitution in 1952, which was approved by Congress and President Truman. The Constitution removed the oversight powers of the President and the United States Congress, and Puerto Rico was empowered to make its own criminal laws.

Sanchez Valle was charged with illegal sale of firearms by Puerto Rican authorities. While the case was pending, however, he pled guilty to the federal version of the same offense and was sentenced to 5 months in prison, a much lighter sentence than the one he faced by the territorial charges. The trial court dismissed those latter charges as violating Double Jeopardy. The Puerto Rican Supreme Court agreed, holding that Puerto Rico was not a separate sovereign from the United States government.

The case comes down to whether the source of Puerto Rico’s authority to pass and enforce criminal laws is the 1952 Constitution or the ratification of this Constitution by Congress. Is Puerto Rico a sovereign part of the federal system in the same sense as states or an Indian tribe or is there enough of a vestige of colonialism to make the federal government the ultimate source of public power?

Read more »

Parker: Three Key Criminal Cases Before U.S. Supreme Court in January

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.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The Supremes will consider three criminal cases in oral arguments scheduled for January 12 and 13. The effect of the decisions are not broad, but the cases illustrate the Court’s responsibility to keep the criminal justice system as construed by the lower courts consistent, rational, and based on precedent.

Those who are not part of the criminal justice system are often surprised when they learn that Double Jeopardy does not prevent separate sovereigns from launching separate prosecutions for the same conduct by a defendant. The most common example is when a defendant faces charges from a single course of conduct in both state and federal court. An acquittal or conviction in one jurisdiction does not preclude charges in another since each has the right to define and punish offenses committed in its jurisdiction.

Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle will decide whether that territory and the federal government are separate sovereigns permitting dual prosecutions. First, a bit of history. The United States obtained the island from Spain after the Spanish American War in 1898. It was a “splendid little war” which made the U.S. a colonial power and made Teddy Roosevelt the President. What could establish his executive qualifications better than the ability to lead a bunch of cowboys and polo players up San Juan Hill?

After the treaty in 1899 Congress established a civil government there with the Governor and the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico appointed by the President and any laws passed by the legislature submitted to Congress for potential annulment. In 1950 Congress offered Puerto Rico a “compact” of self-government. The islanders passed a Constitution in 1952, which was approved by Congress and President Truman. The Constitution removed the oversight powers of the President and the United States Congress, and Puerto Rico was empowered to make its own criminal laws.

Sanchez Valle was charged with illegal sale of firearms by Puerto Rican authorities. While the case was pending, however, he pled guilty to the federal version of the same offense and was sentenced to 5 months in prison, a much lighter sentence than the one he faced by the territorial charges. The trial court dismissed those latter charges as violating Double Jeopardy. The Puerto Rican Supreme Court agreed, holding that Puerto Rico was not a separate sovereign from the United States government.

The case comes down to whether the source of Puerto Rico’s authority to pass and enforce criminal laws is the 1952 Constitution or the ratification of this Constitution by Congress. Is Puerto Rico a sovereign part of the federal system in the same sense as states or an Indian tribe or is there enough of a vestige of colonialism to make the federal government the ultimate source of public power?

Read more »

Weekend Series on Crime: The Dangerous Bikers