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Archive for June, 2020

Golden State Killer Pleads Guilty to String of Murders, Kidappings

FBI wanted poster.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. affirmed he is the Golden State Killer by pleading guilty Monday to 13 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of kidnapping.

The 74-year-old, who sat in a wheel chair and wore an orange jump suit and plastic face shield, admitted he committed a string of murders in the 1970s and ’80s that terrorized California and frustrated law enforcement.

“Mr. DeAngelo is acknowledging his guilt for the heinous crimes he has committed,” Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton said at the court hearing, NPR reports. “There is really nothing that could give full justice because he has committed horrendous acts and murder up and down the state of California. But at least we can now begin the process — after decades — to bring some closure to families.”

In June 2016, the FBI renewed its manhunt for the elusive killer during a news conference, where they announced a $50,000 reward. Less than two years later, DeAngelo was arrested, based on forensic genetic genealogy.

“The scope of Joseph DeAngelo’s crimes is simply staggering,” Sacramento County Prosecutor Thien Ho said. “Each time he escaped, slipping away silently into the night.”

Family members of some of the victims spoke.

Teens Lead Petition Drive to Strip William Barr of Award from Former High School

Attorney General William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Two teenagers are leading a petition drive to strip Attorney General William Barr of a “Distinguished Achievement” award he received from his former high school at Horace Mann in 2011.

Barr graduated from the elite private school in 1967.

Recent graduates of the school, Jessica Rosberger and Kiara Royer, said they launched the Change.org petition because of Barr’s role in ordering riot police to clear out peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square so President Trump could pose for a photo op in front of a historic church.

“I realized that Barr had taken these heinous actions,” Rosberger tells Forbes. “At the same time he was held up as a model member of our community. That was very troubling to me.”

The petition states, “Barr violated our school’s Core Values of Mutual Respect and Mature Behavior as well as our Mission Statement by infringing on the common good. William Barr should not be held as a model member of our community because of his disgraceful actions.”

The petition urges school administrators to reconsider the award in light of “this inappropriate use of power.”

Professors and faculty at another of Barr’s alma mater’s, George Washington University Law School, are calling on the attorney general to resign because he “undermined the rule of law, breached constitutional norms, and damaged the integrity and traditional independence of his office and of the Department of Justice.”

TSA Employees Continue to Face Serious Coronavirus Risks at Nation’s Airports

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

No federal agency has been more impacted by the coronavirus than the TSA.

As of Monday, 780 TSA employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and five have died.

Now that coronavirus cases are increasing in at least 36 states, the TSA is trying to provide more training and protective gear to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to airport employees and travelers.

Jay Brainard, the top TSA official in Kansas, has reported that supervisors were prevented from providing screeners with stockpiled N95 masks in March, when it was difficult to buy the respirators. He also said the TSA failed to adequately train employees to deal with the coronavirus.

It’s a difficult job because security requires person-to-person contact, and that’s how the virus spreads.

Congress is asking for more information on the safety protocols to keep employee safe. In a June 16 letter to Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the Homeland Security, called on more effective protocols.

“Given that COVID-19 disproportionately affects certain demographics, any such protocols must be designed to guard against passengers from certain racial or ethnic minorities being targeted for screening in a discriminatory fashion,” Thompson wrote.

Car Crash That Killed 7 People in El Paso Was Involved in Human Smuggling

Border marker at San Ysidro Port of Entry, via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The car crash that killed seven people in downtown El Paso on Thursday was involved in human smuggling.

The car was fleeing Border Patrol agents when it crashed into a trailer at 2:15 a.m.

Among those killed were at least three undocumented immigrants who were being smuggled into the U.S. and four El Paso residents, including the 18-year-old driver The Daily Mail reports.

A Mexican man and two unidentified people also were killed.

Among the injured were Mexico native Omar Garcia Hernandez, 18, Guatemalan national Wilbur Gomez, 25, and an unnamed 16-year-old from Mexico.

“All preliminary information collected thus far indicates that it was indeed a human smuggling event,” Chief Patrol Agent of the El Paso Sector Gloria Chavez said in a statement.

A sensor alerted agents to the four-door sedan in Sunland Park, New Mexico, an area near the border that is know for human smuggling.

The driver fled by accelerating at a high rate of speed. Agents called off the chase because of the dangerous speed.

Soon after, the agents spotted the car, which had crashed into a trailer on private property.

“I cannot stress enough how Transnational Criminal Organizations continue to exploit human beings and manipulate the youth in our communities by recruiting them to be their mules and their smugglers,” Chavez said.

“Human smuggling is as lucrative as drug smuggling, if not more, and our youth are being targeted.”

Weekend Series on Crime History: Spiro Agnew Resigns

AG Barr Must Resign for Politicizing DOJ, Ex-Assistant U.S. Attorney for Southern District of NY Argues

AG William Barr in Detroit, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The criticism of Attorney General William Barr continues as an increasing number of legal experts say he has turned his back on his responsibilities to represent the best interests of the U.S.

Elliot B. Jacobson, who served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1985 to 2017, is the latest to call on Barr to resign.

“For his part, Barr has openly abandoned any pretense of acting in the nation’s best interest and has instead acted as Trump’s ‘Roy Cohn’ or his new Michael Cohen — take your pick,” Jacobson wrote in a column in The New York Law Journal. “The litany of his abuses of power on behalf of the president is worth rehearsing here.”

From the time Barr took office in February 2019, Barr defied his oath to support and defend the Constitution by refusing to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s probe of Russian interference in Trump’s 2016 election, Jacobson argued. In a whitewashed letter summarizing special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings during the investigation, Barr “had deliberately mischaracterized the Mueller report and its conclusions.”

“Not content with mischaracterizing the report’s findings and conclusions, ‘Barr has engaged in a real witch-hunt by, in May of 2019, appointing District of Connecticut United States Attorney John Durham to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation,” Jacobson wrote.

Barr continued to discredit Mueller’s report, Jacobson said.

Then last week, in what Jacobson calls a “Friday night massacre,” Barr fired Geoffrey Berman, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

“The only plausible reason for Berman’s sacking would appear to be his record as U.S. Attorney including: his prosecution of Michael Cohen, Trump’s prior attorney/fixer; his prosecution of two associates of the president’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who were said by prosecutors to have been involved in the effort to recall the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch; his investigation of Giuliani himself, in connection with allegations stemming from his lobbying practice; and his indictment, against Trump’s personal wishes, of Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, on charges that it conspired to undermine the United States Iran sanctions regime,” Jacobson wrote.

It has become clear that Barr’s role is “supporting and defending the man who appointed him to the office he holds, Donald Trump,” Jacobson wrote.

“In doing so, he has engaged in gross abuses of power, and the damage he has done to the integrity of the Justice Department and to the rule of law is incalculable,” Jacobson wrote. “It’s time for him to go. If he will not resign or be fired by the president — either of which seems highly unlikely — then he should be impeached and removed by Congress, pursuant to its power under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, before he can do any more damage.”

Border Patrol Chase Led to Crash That Killed 7 People in Downtown El Paso

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A car fleeing the Border Patrol crashed in downtown El Paso on Thursday morning, killing seven people and injuring three others.

The chase began after Border Patrol agents tried to stop a gray Chevrolet Cruze packed with 10 people shortly after 2 a.m. on West Paisano Drive near Union Depot, The El Paso Times reports.

The driver lost control of the car on a curve in the road, crossing a small gravel median, and crashing through a chain-link fence before striking a parked trailer. The car was torn in two.

The El Paso County medical examiner is trying to identify the dead.

“U.S. Border Patrol Agents assigned to the Santa Teresa and El Paso Stations attempted to stop a vehicle,” Border Patrol said in a news release. “The vehicle fled and was subsequently involved in a motor vehicle accident with multiple fatalities.”

The statement added, “At this time, the U.S. Border Patrol is cooperating with the active investigation, which is being led by the El Paso Police Department. The incident is also under review by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility.”

Dozens of Secret Service Employees Ordered to Self-Quarantine After Trump’s Tulsa Rally

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service ordered dozens of its officers and agents to self-quarantine after attending President Trump’s rally in Tulsa.

The employees were instructed to work from home for 14 days, The Washington Post reports.

Two Secret Service employees were among at least six advance staffers who had tested positive for COVID-19.

Employees who were ordered to self-quarantine also must get tested for COVID-19.

The Secret Service is now requiring agents to be tested 24 to 48 hours before a presidential trip, according to an email obtained by CNN.

“We want to make sure that we have a healthy workforce and that we are protecting our people,” a Secret Service official told CNN. “This is good common sense.”

Trump has been criticized for holding the rally in defiance of federal social-distancing guidelines.

It’s still not clear yet whether the rally led to an outbreak of the virus.