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Archive for April, 2020

Fourth TSA Agent Dies from Coronavirus. Nearly 450 Others Have Tested Positive.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A customs agent at Miami International Airport has become the fourth TSA employee to die from the coronavirus.

Victor Chung, who had worked at the TSA for 17 years, died Sunday.

Nearly 450 TSA employees, including screeners and nonscreeners, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the agency. So far, 79 of them have recovered.

The screeners worked at more than two dozens airports across the country. At John F. Kennedy International, where 185 TSA employees have tested positive, has been hit the hardest. At Newark Liberty International, 88 TSA workers have confirmed infections. More than 50 TSA workers from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International have tested positive.

TSA workers, especially screeners, are especially vulnerable because they have a lot of contact with the public.

FBI Warns that Foreign Hackers Are Targeting COVID-19 Research Institutions

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A top FBI official said Thursday that foreign state-sponsored hackers have broken into COVID-19 research institutions.

FBI Deputy Assistant Director Tonya Ugoretz revealed the news during an online panel discussion hosted by the international think tank Aspen Institute, Reuters reports.

“We certainly have seen reconnaissance activity, and some intrusions, into some of those institutions, especially those that have publicly identified themselves as working on COVID-related research,” Ugoretz said.

Organizations that have publicly unveil their research efforts “make them a mark for other nation-states that are interested in gleaning details about what exactly they’re doing and maybe even stealing proprietary information that those institutions have,” Ugortez said.

While it’s not unusual for foreign state-backed hackers to target the biopharmaceutical industry, the cyber invasions are “certainly heightened during the crisis.”

Michel Cohen to Be Released Early from Prison Over Coronavirus Fears

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Trump.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former longtime attorney and self-described fixer, will be released from prison early over concerns that the coronavirus will continue to sweep through jails.

Cohen will serve the remainder of his three-year sentence in home confinement, his attorney Roger Bennett told reporters.

Cohen is expected to be released on May 1 after he completes a two-week quarantine at the prison.

Cohen was sentenced in December 2018 after pleading guilty to nine federal charges, including making secret payments to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. The charges also included lying to congress about his involvement with a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow and failing to report millions of dollars in income.

His initial release date was November 2021.

“Pursuant to the First Step Act, different forms of compassionate relief can be granted,” Adler told ABC News. “My client’s application was granted.”

Gregory Bovino Named Chief Patrol Agent of Border Patrol’s El Centro Sector

Gregory Bovino, chief patrol agent of the El Centro Sector. Via CBP.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Gregory Bovino, a 24-year-veteran of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, has been appointed chief patrol agent of the El Centro Sector.

Bovino is responsible for managing all Border Patrol operations and administrative functions within the El Centro Sector, which covers 70 miles of land along the border, as well as inland areas of California, extending to the Oregon State line.

Bovino previously served as chief patrol agent of the agency’s New Orleans sector.

Bovino joined the Border Patrol in 1996 and was assigned as an agent in California at the El Centro Station in the El Centro Sector. Since then, Bovino has been promoted to a variety of positions.

“I am ecstatic about assuming command of the El Centro Sector, the nation’s premier sector, and becoming part of this great, tight-knit community,” Bovino says in a news release.

Mark Hoffman Named Assistant Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Jacksonville Criminal Branch

Mark Hoffman, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI Jacksonville criminal branch. Via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Mark A. Hoffman has been appointed to serve as the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville criminal branch.

He’s tasked with overseeing violent crimes against children, cyber, civil rights, violent crime, financial crime programs and others issues for the 40-county territory.

Hoffman replaces Carlton L. Peeples, who was recently promoted to the FBI Inspection Division.

Hoffman previously served as a supervisory special agent for the FBI Phoenix Division, where he oversaw investigations into violent crimes, including bank robbery, Indian Country crime, airport matters, violent crimes against children, and human intelligence (HUMINT) issues for Arizona.

Hoffman, who has more than 29 years of military and law enforcement experience, joined the FBI in 1998 and has since held assignments with the FBI in Detroit and Dallas and at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C.

Before joining the FBI, Hoffman served as an Air Force officer at Eglin Air Force Base in Okaloosa County, Fla.

“I’m excited to return to Florida and serve the people of this great state,” Hoffman said in a news release. “I’ve dedicated my life to federal public service and will leverage my knowledge and experience to concentrate on forward leaning initiatives that protect citizens of all ages from criminal matters including cybercrimes, civil rights, and public corruption. I highly value community partnerships and collaborative efforts with local, state, and federal agencies and will strive to keep our resources poised to maintain mission readiness.”

3 TSA Employees Die from Coronavirus, More than 400 Tested Positive

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A TSA screener at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the third employee from the agency to die from the coronavirus.

Dian Phipps was a security screener, and he had worked for the TSA for 14 years.

More than 400 TSA employees, including screeners and nonscreeners, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the agency. So far, 45 of them have recovered.

The screeners worked at more than two dozens airports across the country. At John F. Kennedy International, where 162 TSA employees have tested positive, has been hit the hardest. At Newark Liberty International, 80 TSA workers have confirmed infections. Nearly 50 TSA workers from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International have tested positive.

TSA workers, especially screeners, are especially vulnerable because they have a lot of contact with the public.

FBI Fires Analyst for Allegedly Possessing Child Pornography, But DOJ Declines to File Charges

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A supervisory intelligence analyst (SIA) for the FBI has been fired while an internal watchdog was investigating allegations that he had possessed and viewed child pornography, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced Monday.

The OIG forensically examined the SIA’s personal and FBI-issued devices after he had revealed during “routine FBI security inquiry” that he had viewed and downloaded child pornography from the internet several years ago. During the examination, investigators discovered pornographic images, which were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a routine step to determine whether photographs are child pornography.

No evidence of child pornography was found, but based on the analyst’s comments during the security review, the OIG concluded that the SIA had knowingly possessed child pornography.

The FBI fired the analyst while the investigation was ongoing.

The Justice Department declined to prosecute the analyst.

Populations at ICE Detention Centers for Migrant Families Are Down

ICE official, via ICE.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

ICE is holding fewer migrants at three family detention centers, where the numbers declined 826 last week, a 39% decline, a federal judge said during a court hearing Monday.

The three facilities hold families in Texas and Pennsylvania, and federal authorities are doing a better job following CDC guidelines, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg of Washington, D.C., said, according to The Washington Post.

The judge, who is considering a request to release families from the detention facilities, ordered ICE to disclose more information about COVID-19 testing and its supplies to help sick people.

“I don’t think . . . you’ve made the showing that [bulk] release is necessary at this point,” Boasberg told attorneys for assisting migrant families seeking asylum. “But what I am interested in is . . . particular categories of information that you seek, and I think requiring the government to provide that information would both benefit this litigation, but would also benefit your clients.”

ICE says none of the detainees has tested positive for the virus.