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Archive for June, 2018

Oregon Federal Judge Tosses Key Evidence in Criminal Case Against FBI Agent Joseph Astarita

Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was the spokesman of the occupation. Via YouTube.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge in Portland dealt a blow to the government’s case against FBI Agent W. Joseph Astarita, who is accused of lying about firing his weapon during a 2016 confrontation with Oregon occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, who was fatally shot.

U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones wrote in a ruling filed Monday that part of  the government’s key evidence, a  3D model that pinpointed where prosecutors suspect the agent was standing when he’s accused of firing at Finicum, can’t be used, the Portland Oregonian reports.

The judge concluded that Astarita’s position is based on “fuzzy smudges” from an aerial FBI video and can’t accurately support the placement of the agent at the scene.

The judge wrote that the government can only use the model at trial if a separate eyewitness testimony that places the agent’s position at the scene.

Read the judge’s ruling. 

 

 

Imprisoned Gangster Says He and Whitey Bulger Paid Off 7 FBI Agents, Killed Informants

Steve Flemmi/dateline nbc file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

For decades, the story of James “Whitey” Bulger was one of the bigger ones to come out of Boston.

Now, his name is back in the news.

Former gangster Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi testified Monday that he and Bulger paid off seven FBI agents, killed several informants after they were exposed by a corrupt agent, and lied to implicate others in murders they committed, reports Shelley Murphy of the Boston Globe.

“There was always some sort of story concocted . . . to keep the heat away from us,” Flemmi said under cross-examination at the murder trial of former New England Mafia boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme.

Murphy writes:

The sordid details of the gangsters’ corrupt relationship with the FBI have emerged in previous trials related to the Bulger saga over the past two decades, but they were new to the jury in the murder case unfolding in federal court in Boston against Salemme, 84, and his codefendant, Paul Weadick, a 62-year-old plumber from Burlington.

Retired Secret Service Agent Warned Florida School of Vulnerabilities 2 Months Before Shooting

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Here’s some disturbing news.

Two months before the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, a retired Secret Service agent warned administrators that the school could be vulnerable to a gunman, the Sun Sentinel reports:

Gates were unlocked. Students did not wear identification badges. A fire alarm could send students streaming into the halls. Active-shooter drills were inadequate, he said.

The retired agent, Steve Wexler, said he made his point by strolling through the school with Post-it notes, attaching them to places his bullets or knife would land if he were an intruder. No one stopped him, he said.

In an interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Wexler said he was invited to analyze the school’s security and presented his recommendations to four staff members.

“I said, ‘This stuff is blatantly obvious. You’ve got to fix this,’” Wexler said.

He never heard another word from the district, he said.

Two People Charged in Shooting of ATF Agent in Indiana

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Two people have been charged in the shooting of an ATF agent in Gary, Ind., who was wounded during a shootout last Thursday.

Blake King, age 19, of Chicago and Bernard Graham, age 25, of Calumet City, Ill.,  were charged last Friday in a criminal complaint.

The charges include: Forcibly assaulting, opposing, impeding, intimidating and interfering with Special Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives while they were engaged in the performance of their official duties by use of deadly and dangerous weapons, infliction of bodily injury, using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to, and possessing in furtherance of a crime of violence, a firearm that was discharged.

“Gun violence doesn’t stop at the state line and neither do government investigations.  We will continue to coordinate with law enforcement and prosecutors in this jurisdiction and others including Northern Illinois to defeat these criminals. We will never tolerate gun violence and never stop doing all we can to defeat it,” Indiana U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II said in a statement.

 

Majority of Cyber Experts Surveyed Oppose FBI Need for Built-in Way to Access Encrypted Data

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has says its inability to crack encrypted cellphones during investigations makes the country less safe. But 72 percent of 100 cybersecurity leaders from government, academia and the private sector surveyed by the Washington Post’s  “Cybersecurity 202” disagree.

The survey showed a broad opposition to the FBI’s demand that device and software-makers give law enforcement a built-in way to access encrypted data with a warrant.

“Strong encryption is absolutely critical for keeping our data safe from criminals. This is especially important for mobile devices such as cellphones, which are easily lost or stolen,”  Matt Blaze, a cryptographer and computer science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, tells the Post. “Weakening encryption might make the FBI’s job easier in some cases … but that would be a very shortsighted policy that would create far more crime than it would solve.”

Former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh: The GOP Must Speak Out To Protect the Mueller Probe

Dick Thornburgh served as U.S. attorney general from 1988 to 1991.

Dick Thornburgh/doj photo

By Dick Thornburgh
For the Washington Post

As a lifelong Republican, I am proud that my party has consistently revered the rule of law as a central tenet of our country’s values. I have been honored to serve under seven presidents, including as U.S. attorney general under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. I know from experience that the Justice Department effectively performs the awesome responsibility of enforcing our laws and assuring that justice is provided equally and fairly to all.

Many recent comments about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his investigation have been regrettable and undeserved. I was surprised to see President Trump’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, a respected former U.S. attorney, suggest this week that Mueller is “trying very, very hard to frame” the president, echoing comments made by the president himself that the investigation is “a Witch Hunt.” Those comments are the antithesis of who Mueller is and how he operates.

I know Bob Mueller as a colleague in law enforcement and as a friend, and I highly respect his judgment and moral compass. Mueller is the right person to investigate Russia’s apparent assault on our democracy. He possesses the skills and discipline necessary to perform his role, and his past leadership as head of the Justice Department’s criminal division and as director of the FBI leave no doubt as to his ability to evenhandedly conduct significant investigations. He is serious but not sensational and loyal to the rule of law.

 

Weekend Series on Crime History: Nixon Comments on Death of FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover

Secret Service Watching Over Donald Trump Jr.’s Date Nights in New York

Donald Trump Jr. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The New York Daily News reports that witnesses have seen what appears to be a black U.S. Secret Service car parked outside Kimberly Guilfoyle’s Central Park West apartment.  She’s dating Donald Trump Jr.

The Daily News reports:

For the fourth straight Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. enjoyed a date night with Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, according to a source on the scene. The 40-year-old scion’s secret service detail dropped them both off outside the 49-year-old TV host’s Central Park West apartment for a nightcap.

Passersby have noticed the black SUV’s with out of state plates parked near Guilfoyle’s building every Tuesday since early May.