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Archive for July, 2017

FBI: Abduction Suspect Viewed Sexual Fetish Website Before Kidnapping

Abduction suspect Brendt Christensen, via LinkedIn.

Abduction suspect Brendt Christensen, via LinkedIn.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

About two months before police say he kidnapped a Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois, the 28-year-old suspect appears to have visited the most popular sexual fetish networking site on the internet.

Brendt Allen Christensen was charged in the June 9 abduction of 26-year-old Yingying Zhang, who authorities believe is dead. On April 19, federal investigators said Christensen used his phone to visit FetLife.com, a forum that included threads called “Perfect abduction fantasy” and “planning a kidnapping,” CNN reports. 

Christensen, who remains behind bars, is expected in federal court in Urbana on Monday.

FetLife bills itself as “the Social Network for the BDSM, Fetish & Kinky Community” and was created in 2008 by Canadian software developer John Baku. Since then, the site claims to have more than 5 million registered members.

The site dubs itself as a “safe place for kinksters” and is only intended for consensual adults.

According to the FBI, Zhang was kidnapped during the day after she was running late to sign a lease. Authorities believe she agreed to hop in the case with Christensen, a stranger, after missing two buses.

During surveillance, the FBI said Christensen admitted to kidnapping the Chinese scholar.

DOJ Corporate Crime Watchdog Quits Over Trump Administration’s Conduct

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A top Justice Department official who served as the corporate compliance watchdog has resigned because she said President Trump’s administration is violating the same government ethics laws that she’s expected to enforce on other businesses.

Hui Chen resigned in June, saying she can’t force companies to comply when Trump’s administration is doing the same thing.

She recently broke her silence in a LinkedIn post, first revealed by International Business Times

“Trying to hold companies to standards that our current administration is not living up to was creating a cognitive dissonance that I could not overcome,” Chen wrote. “To sit across the table from companies and question how committed they were to ethics and compliance felt not only hypocritical, but very much like shuffling the deck chair on the Titanic. Even as I engaged in those questioning and evaluations, on my mind were the numerous lawsuits pending against the President of the United States for everything from violations of the Constitution to conflict of interest, the ongoing investigations of potentially treasonous conducts, and the investigators and prosecutors fired for their pursuits of principles and facts. Those are conducts I would not tolerate seeing in a company, yet I worked under an administration that engaged in exactly those conduct. I wanted no more part in it.”

Chen joined the Justice Department in 2015 to help the agency enforce criminal laws against corporations.

Homeland Security Officer Charged with Kicking Cuffed Suspect in Head

Surveillance of incident.

Surveillance of incident.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Homeland Security officer has been indicted on charges of kicking a handcuffed man in the head outside of a federal building in Pomona, Calif.

Jason Rouswell, 45, is accused of violating the civil rights of the handcuffed suspect during an October 2016 incident, the Los Angeles Times reports, citing the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. 

Rouswell, who is an inspector with the Federal Protective Services, is accused of kicking a man who was lying face down in the street after he was detained and shackled outside the Social Security Administration building.

According to a video of the assault, the suspect appeared to be cooperating with authorities.

Rouswell is expected to turn himself in on Wednesday. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Trump’s Pick to Head DOJ Civil Rights Division Spurs Criticism

Eric Dreiband was nominated to

Eric Dreiband was nominated to head DOJ Civil Rights Division.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s nomination to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division has drawn criticism because he previously defended major corporations and others against discrimination lawsuits.

Eric Dreiband, who served as general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under George W. Bush, defended companies accused of discrimination based on age, pregnancy and religion, CNN reports. 

The labor attorney for Jones Day would undermine “fundamental civil rights priorities,” the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said last week.

“Dreiband has devoted most of his career to defending corporations in employment discrimination cases and advocating for weaker antidiscrimination protections in the workplace,” the statement said. “He also has a troubling lack of experience, having done no significant work in other issue areas central to the Division’s mission, including urgent priorities like voting rights and policing reform.”

Danita Gupta, who held the same position under President Barack Obama, wrote in a statement: “Whoever leads the ‘crown jewel’ of the Justice Department must have deep relationships with stakeholders and marginalized communities, and have a deep, abiding faith in our nation’s civil rights laws. They must respect the laws that touch everyone, rights that people have literally died for. They must respect the role of what has been called the conscience of the federal government. In all those regards, Eric Dreiband is woefully unqualified to lead the Civil Rights Division.”

The White House fought back Friday.

“The White House judges nominees on the merits of their character and not on the clients they once represented as counsel,” White House spokeswoman Kelly Love told CNN. “Mr. Dreiband is highly qualified to run the civil rights division, and we are privileged to have his service.”

Other Stories of Interest

Barnes & Thornburg First Major Firm to Have 3-Ex-U.S. Attorneys As Partners Who are African Americans

(L-R) Mike Battle, Roscoe Howard, Patrick Miles

(L-R) Mike Battle, Roscoe Howard, Patrick Miles

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Barnes & Thornburg, based in Indianapolis, is the first major law firm to have three former U. S. Attorneys  as partners who are African American.  The firm has 13 offices and is among the 100 largest in the U.S.

The former U.S. Attorneys include Mike Battle, who served in the Western District of New York (Buffalo) under President George W. Bush; Roscoe Howard who served in D.C. under Bush and Patrick Miles, who served in the the Western District of Michigan (Grand Rapids) under President Barack Obama.

Howard and Battle work in the D.C. office and Miles is based in Grand Rapids.

Weekend Series on Crime: Mobsters, Carmine (The Snake) Persico, Colombo Crime Family, Godfather

Poll: Republicans Lost Faith in FBI Amid Investigation of Trump

fbi directorate-of-intelligence-seal-on-wall-1By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s handling of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election has spurred distrust in the bureau among Republicans, at least in Texas, according to a new poll.

The poll of 1,200 registered Texas voters found that 35% of Texas Republicans have an unfavorable opinion of the FBI, while 43% have a favorable view. About 22% had no opinion.

The results surprised many GOP officials because conservatives typically have favorable opinions of law enforcement.

“I think all of this reflects the fact that almost everything connected with Donald Trump being in the White House right now is falling into an intensely partisan field” Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, which designed and analyzed the poll, told NPR. 

“On a deeper level, it means one more institution that is the subject of a real crisis in faith in the general public,” Henson said. “And I think it is worrisome.”

Pollsters believe the eroding support among Republicans is the result of disparaging remarks by Donald Trump and his supporters, who have blasted the bureau by suggesting it’s on a “witch hunt” to unseat the president.

Grassley Questions Independence of Acting FBI Director McCabe

Sen. Chuck Grassley

Sen. Chuck Grassley

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley is joining conservative pundits and President Trump allies in attacking the credibility of acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Iowa Republican is raising questions about the independence of McCabe at a time when the FBI is investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Politico reports

Grassley suggested McCabe may have a conflict of interest because his wife received donations from a Clinton supporter, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, while running for a Virginia state Senate seat. Grassley pointed to an active investigation by the Justice Department inspector general into whether the donation should have prompted McCabe to recuse himself from the Hillary Clinton email probe.

“That evidence and the failure to recuse calls into question whether Mr. McCabe handled the Flynn investigation fairly and objectively, or whether he had any retaliatory motive against Flynn for being an adverse witness to him in a pending proceeding,” Grassley wrote.

In a series of Tweets on Thursday, Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow also raised the issue.

“The conflicts of interest are clear and the American people should not tolerate this.”