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Archive for November, 2020

ATF Busts Michigan Sex Offender Accused of Impersonating ATF Agent

Christopher Proe, via U.S. Attorney’s Office.

By Steve Neavling

The ATF on Thursday arrested a convicted sex offender in Michigan who was impersonating an undercover ATF agent. 

Christopher Proe, 36, of Redford Township in suburban Detroit, was “typically wearing an ATF badge around his neck or belt, while simultaneously carrying a police radio, handcuffs and firearm,” ATF Special Agent Justin Henry wrote in a criminal complaint obtained by The Detroit News.

According to the complaint, Proe went by the pseudonym Chris Conley and told people he was an ATF supervisor in Detroit. 

“Proe has detained people before using ATF authority,” a third informant told investigators.

A serial felon with past convictions of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, weapons crime, conspiracy to defraud the government, and false pretenses, Roe was barred from possessing a firearm. 

When ATF agents arrested Proe at his girlfriend’s home in Redford Township, they found a loaded, stolen pistol, a replica ATF badge, and ammunition. Inside a pickup truck, agents also found additional ammunition and clothing that resembled a law enforcement uniform. 

Replica badge, stolen gun, and ammunition, via U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Secret Service Ramps Up Protection for Joe Biden Ahead of Potential Victory

By Steve Neavling

As Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden gets closer to the 270 electoral college votes needed to clinch the election, the Secret Service is sending more protection to Wilmington, Del.

The Secret Service deployed additional agents for added protection around the Wilmington convention center, which the former Vice President plans to continue using for at least another day, The Washington Post reports, adding that Biden is preparing for a potentially major speech Friday. 

Biden has already been receiving security from dozens of Secret Service agents. 

Despite the influx of new agents, Biden still doesn’t have the full protective detail he’d receive as president-elect. In the past, protection is ramped up after a candidate gives a victory speech, and the opponent concedes defeat. 

As of Friday morning, Biden held razor-thin leads in Georgia, Nevada, and Arizona. President Trump’s lead is narrowing in Pennsylvania, where thousands of votes have yet to be counted in Democratic strongholds. 

But it doesn’t appear Trump plans to concede the election anytime soon, claiming widespread fraud without any evidence Thursday. Even Republicans have acknowledged there’s no evidence of widespread fraud. 

Under agency protocol, Biden would be treated as president-elect after he electoral college gathers in mid-December to certify the election results. 

Ex-Border Patrol Agent Sentenced to 166 months in prison in Drug Trafficking Scheme

Ex-Border Patrol Agent Daniel Polanco.

By Steve Neavling

A former Border Patrol agent who was indicted on multiple drug trafficking charges and threatening a federal agent with bodily harm has been sentenced to 166 months in prison.

Daniel Polanco, 39, of Edinburg, Texas, was among six law enforcement officials charged in a scheme to steal cocaine and marijuana from drug dealers in the Rio Grande Valley before selling the drugs in Houston.  

His conviction was part of operation Blue Shame, an ongoing sting designed to root out corrupt law enforcement officers. Homeland Security is leading the operation, with the help of local police, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and CBP’s air and marine units.

U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison said Polanco exploited his position of trust as a law enforcement officer in order to commit crimes. 

“Every day, dedicated law enforcement officers across the nation risk their lives to make our communities safe, DEA Special Agent in Charge Steven S. Whipple said in a statement. “The criminal actions of Daniel Polanco, for which he was justly sentenced, demean that dedication and sacrifice. DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to target all narcotics traffickers, especially those who abuse their office and the trust of the American Public.”

The Justice Department wrote in a news release:

The investigation began in 2011 when authorities targeted a drug trafficking organization involved in the transportation and distribution of cocaine and marijuana. Authorities soon found the organization was also stealing loads of cocaine and marijuana from sources of supply. As part of the scheme, the organization had created fake bundles of drugs and used law enforcement officers to seize them in order to cover up the theft.

At trial, the jury heard Polanco helped facilitate the distribution of more than 15 kilograms of cocaine in April 2013. He and others were hired to transport the cocaine but stole it instead and sold the cocaine for profit. To cover up the theft, co-conspirators created fake drug bundles that were placed in an abandoned vehicle. Polanco assisted in the planning and staging of that incident and devised a plan to ensure law enforcement seized the sham bundles. He personally called authorities to report the abandoned vehicle and falsely reported the vehicle as looking suspicious.

Testimony revealed the drug trafficking organization paid Polanco for his participation in the scheme to seize the fake drugs. The jury also heard he made a false statement to an agent who was investigating the 15-kilogram cocaine seizure in an attempt to cover up his involvement in the transaction.

Polanco testified at trial and denied participating in the scheme. The jury did not believe his claims and convicted him of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and knowingly giving a false statement to a federal agent.

Following that verdict and losing a legal motion, Polanco threatened one of the federal agents involved in the case. He was charged and later convicted of threatening to commit bodily harm with the intent to intimidate, interfere or impede the agent while he was engaged in the performance of his official duties and/or to retaliate against him for performance of his official duties.

The drug trafficking investigation has led to the arrest and prosecution of 20 individuals including six law enforcement officers, one of whom has already received a 10-year prison term.

Rhode Island Mobster “Bobby” DeLuca Granted Early Release from Prison

Rhode Island mobster Robert P. “Bobby” DeLuca.

By Steve Neavling

Rhode Island mobster Robert P. “Bobby” DeLuca will be released early from prison because of the health risks during the coronavirus pandemic. 

U.S. District Judge Denise J. Casper granted compassionate release to DeLuca, who had four months left on his sentence for lying to investigators about the gangland murder of a Providence native in 1993, The Providence Journal reports.

Casper citied DeLuca’s age – 75 – and his heart condition and chronic kidney disease. 

DeLuca, a onetime capo in New England La Cosa Nostra, will be on probation for three years. 

In 2016, DeLuca pleaded guilty to making false statements and obstruction of justice related to the death Boston nightclub owner, Steven A. DiSarro, who authorities say DeLuca helped bury in Providence. 

Wray Has Key Support, but His Job May Depend on Who Wins Presidential Election

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the House Homeland Security Committee.

By Steve Neavling

FBI Director Christopher Wray’s job may hinge on who wins the presidential election, but one thing is certain: He has the support of some key Republicans and the FBI Agents Association. 

Sen. Jerry Moran, who chairs the appropriations subcommittee that oversees the FBI, told The Wall Street Journal that Wray “has professionally led the bureau through its complex missions to reduce violent crime, combat foreign threats and terrorism, preserve the integrity of the financial system, and protect our children from exploitation.”

Moran said he would “continue to support” Wray.

Trump has lambasted Wray, calling him “disappointing” in October for failing to cast doubt on the integrity of the election. Trump also said Wray should have opened an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Jim Biden’s family.

After firing FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, Trump announced the next month on Twitter that he was appointing Wray.

Congress also has shown support for the FBI by increasing its budget since Wray was appointed. 

In letters to Trump and Biden, the FBI Agents Association called on the next president to ensure Wray is able to finish his 10-year term for the “stability, credibility and integrity” of the bureau.

Woman Who Fatally Shot FBI Agent Ordered to Stay in Prison

Christina Korbe

By Steve Neavling

Christina Korbe, who fatally shot an FBI agent during a drug raid in Pennsylvania, won’t be freed from prison early, a federal judge has ruled. 

Korbe was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing FBI Agent Sam Hicks when her home was raided for drugs at her Indiana Township home in 2008. Hick was 33. 

U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan rejected her bid for early release, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Slain FBI Agent Sam Hicks/fbi photo

“Ms. Korbe has spent a significant period of time in prison, which has placed a burden on her family,” the judge wrote. “While the Court empathizes with Ms. Korbe and her family, empathy doesn’t always translate into compassionate release. The circumstances presented here simply do not rise to the standard that Congress has authorized for early release.”

Korbe’s attorney requested the early release because she claimed she had the coronavirus in the spring, but prosecutors disputed that. Whatever the case, the judge said Korbe is not at a high risk because she lacks underlying health conditions. 

Korbe was convicted in 2011 of voluntary manslaughter and using a fund during a crime of violence. She was spared a life sentence for a murder a federal agent.

Korbe is eligible for release in 2022.

Brother of ‘Whitey’ Bulger Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Bureau of Federal Prisons

James “Whitey” Bulger

By Steve Neavling

The brother of James “Whitey” Bulger Jr. filed a wrongful death lawsuit against 30 unnamed prison employees, alleging they failed to protect the notorious crime boss while he was behind bars.

Bulger was beaten to death inside his cell at the Hazelton federal prison in West Virginia on Oct. 30, 2018, shortly after he was transferred from a prison in Florida. 

William Bulger alleges in the lawsuit that the Bureau of Federal Prisons is responsible for his brother’s death because it transferred Bulger from a prison where he was protected to one where he was not. 

“[O]nce James Bulger Jr. was in the custody of USP Hazelton, these defendants exposed him to other inmates even though they knew or should have known that such exposure would result in an attack on James Bulger Jr. by one or more inmates and would result in his serious injury or death,” the lawsuit states, according to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

The lawsuit claims the employees violated Bulger’s Eighth Amendment Rights, which provides protections against cruel and unusual punishment, by failing to protect him. 

“Predictably, within hours of his placement in general population at Hazelton, inmates believed to be from New England and who are alleged to have Mafia ties or loyalties, killed James Bulger Jr. utilizing methods that included the use of a lock in a sock-type weapon,” the lawsuit reads.

The Bureau of Federal Prisons declined to comment. 

In a statement, the Bulger family said the government has failed to provide them with information about the investigation into his death or transfer. 

“The family of Mr. Bulger have pursued this action in an attempt to learn what happened to their loved one, demand transparency and accountability of persons employed by the Department of Justice and Bureau of Prisons who may be responsible for Mr. Bulger’s death, and the hope that this action may provide some meaningful reform in the federal penal system and assist other families and residents of federal prisons who have unfairly suffered inappropriate conditions of incarceration,” the family said.

Bulger, who was #1 on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, evaded capture for nearly two decades and was ultimately captured through the relentless efforts of federal agents. The leader of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang, he was indicted on 19 counts of murder, racketeering, narcotics distribution and extortion.

Susan Ferensic Named Special Agent in Charge of Columbia Field Office in S.C.

FBI’s Columbia Field Office in South Carolina. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

Susan Ferensic has been named special agent in charge of the Columbia Field Office in South Carolina. 

Ferensic’s career with the FBI began in 1997 in the Laboratory Division as a computer forensic examiner combing through digital evidence. In 2000, she became a special agent and was assigned criminal and national security computer intrusion matters in the Washington Field Office after graduating from the FBI Academy. 

In 2007, Ferensic became supervisory special agent in the Cyber Division at FBI headquarters, where she served as a program manager for criminal computer intrusion investigations. In 2009, she transferred to the Albuquerque Field Office in New Mexico, leading the cyber and technically trained agent squad. She also served as the supervisory special agent of Albuquerque’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Ferensic was promoted in 2014 to special assistant to the executive assistant director of the Science and Technology Branch at FBI headquarters. In 2016, she became assistant special agent in charge of the Criminal Branch of the Sacramento Field Office in California.

Ferensic was named section chief of the Digital Forensics and Analytics Section in the Operational Technology Division at FBI headquarters in 2018. A year later, she was promoted to chief of staff of the Criminal Cyber Response and Services Branch at FBI headquarters, where she served before being appointed to head the Columbia Field Office.

Ferensic received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Maryland and went on to work as a computer scientist at the Department of Defense before joining the FBI.