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Archive for September, 2021

Kansas City Man Who Assaulted ATF Agent Was Sentenced to 15 in Prison

By Steve Neavling

A Kansas City man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for assaulting an ATF agent during an undercover operation in February. 

Nicholas Newman pleaded guilty in May 2021 to one count of forcible assault on a federal officer using a dangerous weapon and one count of using, carrying, possessing and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a violence crime. 

In February, Newman met two undercover ATF agents to sell them a gun in a parking lot in Kansas City. Newman handed the gun to one of the agent’s in the driver’s seat, which she placed on the floorboard. After the agent gave Newman the cash, he tried to grab the gun, and a “violent snuggled ensued,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

“Newman physically assaulted her inflicting severe bodily harm,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release. “The second agent, who had been in the rear passenger seat, came around and attempted to subdue Newman from behind. A short time later, ATF surveillance units arrived and instructed Newman to let go of the weapon which he did. He was subsequently taken into custody.”

“Every day our ATF agents work to make our communities safer by trying to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals,” Acting U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard said. “In doing so, they often put themselves in harm’s way. Thanks to the bravery and quick action of these agents no lives were lost in an incident which could have resulted in tragedy.”

FBI Agent’s Stolen SUV Was Found, But Handgun Is Missing

First, the good news: An FBI agent’s stolen SUV was found in Pittsburgh. 

Now the bad news: The agent’s handgun is missing. 

The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for help recovering the stolen Glock 19M 9mm, which was inside the agent’s unmarked black Ford Explorer when the government-issued vehicle was stolen Tuesday afternoon.

The SUV was parked in Schenley Park when it was stolen. 

“The FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force, in partnership with Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, are devoting significant resources to locate the weapon, a Glock 19M 9mm, and remove it from the possession of the untrained individual(s) who may have it,” the bureau said in a news release. “All area law enforcement agencies were quickly notified of the theft and are assisting the FBI as warranted.”

Anyone with information on the gun’s whereabouts is asked to call the FBI’s Pittsburgh office at (412) 432-4000.

Chipman, Biden’s Failed ATF Nominee, Says White House Abandoned Him

Former ATF Agent David Chipman, via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling

President Biden’s pick to lead the ATF, David Chipman, said the White House abandoned him as his nomination floundered in the Senate. 

In his first interview since Biden withdrew the nomination, Chipman told The New York Times that he had no contact with the White House, leaving him feeling like he was on “an island.”

Chipman, 55, said the Biden administration’s sole focus was on convincing Sen. Joe Manchin III, a centrist Democrat from West Virginia, to support his nomination. In the end, Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, refused to become the final vote needed for confirmation. 

“Either this was impossible to win, or the strategy failed,” Chipman said. “This was a failure.”

Chipman, a gun owner and former ATF agent, came under fire for his support of firearm restrictions, including a ban on assault weapons. He’s also a former adviser at the Giffords, a gun control group. 

The National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation put up an aggressive fight to stop Chipman’s nomination and spent more than $4 million in radio and TV ads in the home states of moderate Democrats and King.

Chipman’s nomination advanced from the Senate Judiciary Committee after a 10-10 vote in June. But since then, Democrats had not scheduled a confirmation vote because they weren’t sure if Chipman had enough support. 

Chipman said he was surprised the White House didn’t speak with him during the process. 

“In the back of my mind, I always thought that there would be a Plan B, but so far there hasn’t been,” Chipman said. 

In early September, Chipman finally heard from the White House. Presidential adviser Steve Ricchetti called Chipman to express regret that the nomination didn’t have enough support. 

DEA Issues First Public Safety Alert in Six Years As Counterfeit Pills Flood the Market

By Steve Neavling

The DEA on Tuesday issued a rare warning about mass-produced counterfeit pills containing lethal doses of fentanyl that have been linked to fatalities. 

The public safety alert was the agency’s first in six years. 

According to the alert, more than 9.5 million counterfeit pills have been seized so far this year, which is more than the last two years combined. 

Lab testing found that the pills contain at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a lethal dose. 

Criminal drug networks are manufacturing the pills, which look like real prescription medications such as oxycodone, hydocodone, alprazolam, and amphetamines such as Adderall. 

“Across our five state Division, we’ve seen a staggering influx in counterfeit pills,” DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Justin C. King said in a news release. “This is not an East Coast or West Coast problem, but one that the entire nation is facing. We’re seeing these pills in our own Midwestern communities. By raising awareness to this alarming trend, we’re hopeful that we can save families the heartache of losing a loved one. Every life is precious and we want to prevent as many people as possible from making a choice that has permanent repercussions.”

Most of the counterfeit pills are produced in Mexico and brought to the U.S. 

More than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the U.S. last year, and the “primary driver of this alarming increase” is fentanyl, the DEA said. 

John Hinkley Jr., Who Shot Reagan, Wins Unconditional Release

John Hinckley Jr

By Steve Neavling

John Hinckley Jr., who wounded President Reagan and three others in an assassination attempt in 1981, was granted “unconditional release” Monday. 

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman agreed to lift the remaining restrictions on Hinckley, who is now 66 and has been living outside a mental health facility, as long as he remains mentally stable and continues to follow the conditions of his previous release, The Associated Press reports.

The unconditional release would begin in June 2022. 

“If he hadn’t tried to kill the president, he would have been unconditionally released a long, long, long time ago,” Friedman said. “But everybody is comfortable now after all of the studies, all of the analysis and all of the interviews, and all of the experience with Mr. Hinckley.”

Hinckley was 25 when he shot Regean outside a Washington hotel. Also wounded here White House press secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington Metropolitan Police officer Thomas Delahanty. Brady was paralyzed and died in 2014. 

David G. Nanz Named Special Agent in Charge of Springfield Field Office in Illinois

Special Agent David Nanz

By Steve Neavling

David G. Nanz is the new special agent in charge of the Springfield Field Office in Illinois. 

Nanz, who most recently served in the Inspection Division at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C., began his career with the bureau in 2001, when he was first assigned to the Las Vegas Field Office, investigating white-collar crime cases.

In 2008, he was promoted to supervisory special agent and transferred to the Economic Crimes Unit of the Criminal Investigative Division at headquarters. He later became unit chief and served as the program manager for several cases related to the 2008 financial crisis.

Nanz also served as the FBI liaison to the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and led the effort to have an FBI agent embedded in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In 2010, Nanz transferred to the Miami Field Office, where he oversaw the corporate and securities fraud program and established the South Florida Insurance Fraud Task Force, in addition to other duties. In 2016, he completed assignments in London and in Pretoria, South Africa.

Later in 2016, Mr. Nanz was promoted to assistant special agent in charge in the Los Angeles Field Office, where he oversaw 11 criminal and forensic accountant squads. In 2019, he was promoted to inspector and returned to FBI headquarters.

Nanz received a bachelor’s degree in political science from George Washington University in Washington and a law degree from George Mason University in Virginia. Before he joined the FBI, Nanz was a law clerk to the administrative law judges of the National Transportation Safety Board and was later an attorney with an aviation law firm in New York.

Gov. Abbott Offers to Hire Border Patrol Agents If They’re Fired by Biden Admin

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo via Governor’s Office.

By Steve Neavling

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday pledged to hire Border Patrol agents if they are fired for their handling of Haitian migrants along the Rio Grande in Del rio, Texas. 

Shocking images showed the agents on horses chasing and grabbing the migrants near a makeshift camp where a large influx of Haitians had gathered in hopes of being granted asylum. 

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Abbott said the agents did nothing wrong, and if they are fired, “I will hire you to help Texas secure our border.”

Abbott’s remarks came several days after President Biden, calling the agents’ actions “outrageous,” said, “Those people will pay.”

Abbott placed the blame on the Biden administration, saying agents “wouldn’t have been in that situation had the Biden administration enforced the immigration laws.”

“If he takes any action against them whatsoever — I have worked side by side with those Border Patrol agents — I want them to know something,” Abbott said. “If they are risk of losing their job by a president who is abandoning his duty to secure the border, you have a job in the state of Texas. I will hire you to help Texas secure our border.”

NTSB Investigates Fatal Amtrak Derailment In Montana

Amtrak train. Photo courtesy of Amtrak.

By Steve Neavling

The National Transportation Safety Board arrived at the scene of a fatal passenger train derailment that occurred Saturday in Montana.

NTSB will investigate what caused the derailment, which killed three people and injured more than 50 others. 

The Amtrak train, which was carrying 141 passengers and 16 crew members, was traveling from Seattle to Chicago when it derailed near Toplin, Montana. 

“The NTSB is launching a go-team to investigate Saturday’s derailment of Amtrak’s Empire Builder train near Joplin, Montana,” NTSB tweeted. “Team will be based in Great Falls, Montana.”

NTSB said it expects to hold a news briefing late Monday afternoon. 

In a statement, Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said Sunday that the company was working with NTSB and others involved in the investigation.

“We share the sense of urgency to understand why the accident happened; however, until the investigation is complete, we will not comment further on the accident itself,” Flynn said.

“The NTSB will identify the cause or causes of this accident, and Amtrak commits to taking appropriate actions to prevent a similar accident in the future.”

The derailment was the first fatal accident involving Amtrak since a passenger and freight train collided in 2018, killing two the company’s employees.

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