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Archive for December 28th, 2020

Ex-U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman Named ticklethewire.com Fed of the Year for 2020

By Allan Lengel

These have been extraordinary times for people working for the Justice Department. Standing for what’s right in the Trump era has often come with consequences.

Former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the ex-U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, knows that as well as anyone. Berman oversaw the office when it was investigating President Trump’s allies. In June, Trump fired him after Attorney General William Barr shamefully and unsuccessfully tried to persuade him to step down.

To his credit, Berman agreed not to fight his dismissal after Barr agreed to name Berman’s handpicked deputy, Audrey Strauss, someone with a great deal of integrity and experience, as the new U.S. Attorney. These days, not everyone has the backbone to stand up for what’s right.

To that end, we salute Geoffrey Berman and select him as the ticklethewire.com Fed of the Year for 2020.

Previous recipients of the ticklethewire.com Fed of the Year award include: Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (2008):  Warren Bamford, who headed the Boston FBI (2009), Joseph Evans, regional director for the DEA’s North and Central Americas Region in Mexico City (2010);  Thomas Brandon, deputy Director of ATF (2011); John G. Perren, who was assistant director of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Directorate (2012); David Bowdich, special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Los Angeles (2013);  Loretta Lynch, who was U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn at the time (2014); John “Jack” Riley,  the DEA’s acting deputy administrator (2015); D.C.  U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips (2016); Joe Rannazzisi, a retired DEA deputy assistant administrator (2017); Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (2018); and DEA agent Joe Piersante (2019).

FBI Searching for Stolen 18th Century Violin Worth $700,000

A rare 18th century violin stolen in California, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is on the hunt for a rare 18th century violin that was stolen in Los Feliz, Calif. 

The 310-year-old violin, made of curly maple and alpine spruce, is believed to be worth more than $700,000, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The owner is Rowland Weinstein, an art dealer who told authorities the instrument was inside his white Tesla, which was stolen on Dec. 8. 

It’s unclear whether the violin was even a target of the theft. 

Weinstein told authorities that the car was unlocked because he dropped the keys behind the driver’s seat. While he left the car briefly to go inside his home, the Tesla was stolen. 

The FBI said it has no suspects at this time .

“According to LAPD, a car thief is believed to have been in the area,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. “It’s possible that the person who stole it may not have known the value and discovered it [later] and may try to pawn it or sell it overseas. So it’s critical to get the information to the public so that hopefully somebody who received it, or is offered it, can identify it and return it to its rightful owner.”

Weinstein, who said he is “heartbroken,” is offering a $25,000 reward. 

FBI: Nashville Bombing Suspect Died in Blast

Suspect’s RV in downtown Nashville, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

Forensic tests show the suspect in the downtown Nashville bombing on Christmas morning died in the explosion, the FBI said Sunday. 

The bureau matched the DNA of tissue samples found at the scene with that of the suspect Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, of Antioch, TN. 

Investigators got a break in the case when the Tennessee Highway Patrol located and recovered the VIN from the suspect’s RV. That information, along with tips from the public, led investigators to the home of the suspect. 

FBI and ATF agents are still recovering and analyzing evidence. No motive has been identified yet. 

Authorities said there’s no evidence that additional suspects were involved.

“Leads are still being followed, but at this time, there is no indication that any other individuals are involved,” the bureau said in a news release

The blast rocked downtown Nashville, injuring three people and heavily damaging businesses, including an AT&T switching center.