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Archive for September, 2021

FBI Confirms Body Found in Wyoming Is Gabby Petito As Search for Boyfriend Continues

Gabby Petito via Facebook

By Steve Neavling

The body found in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming is Gabby Petito’s, a 22-year-old Florida woman who was reported missing earlier this month after a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend, the FBI confirmed Tuesday. 

Teton County Coroner Brent Blue said her death was likely a homicide, but the final determination is pending complete autopsy results. 

“The FBI and our partners remain dedicated to ensuring anyone responsible for or complicit in Ms. Petito’s death is held accountable for their actions,” the FBI’s Denver Field Office said in a statement Tuesday. “Mr. Brian Laundrie has been named a person of interest. Anyone with information concerning Mr. Laundrie’s role in this matter or his current whereabouts should contact the FBI.”

FBI agents executed a search warrant Monday at the home of Brian Laundrie, the boyfriend who returned from the trip without Petito and has refused to cooperate with authorities. 

Laundrie, who has been named a person of interest in the case, was last seen on Sept. 14, and the FBI is urging anyone who knows about his whereabouts to contact the bureau. 

His family said he packed a backpack and told them he was going for a hike at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. Law enforcement has been searching the preserve and nearby areas.

John R. Modlin Named Chief Border Patrol Agent for Tucson Sector

John R. Modlin, chief Border Patrol agent for the Tucson Sector. Photo via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling

John R. Modlin has been named chief Border Patrol agent for the Tucson Sector in Arizona.

Modlin began serving as the interim chief in Tucson beginning in November 2020, when he replaced Roy Villarreal. 

The Tucson Sector covers Cochise, Pima and Santa Cruz counties and is responsible for border enforcement along a 262-mile boundary with Miami. The sector has nearly 3,700 agents. 

Modlin’s Border Patrol career includes stints at the Detroit and Miami sectors and the agency’s headquarters in Washington D.C.

DHS to Investigate ‘Extremely Troubling’ Footage of Border Patrol Confronting Migrants in Del Rio

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

The Department of Homeland Security is investigating images and video of horse-mounted Border Patrol agents chasing and whipping Haitian migrants along the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas. 

In a tweet Monday, Homeland Security said it was taking the situation “very seriously.”

“The footage is extremely troubling, and the facts learned from the full investigation, which will be conducted swiftly, will define the appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken,” Homeland Security said.

CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating, and the DHS Office of Inspector General has been alerted. 

The scene played out near a makeshift camp in Del Rio, a small town where a large influx of migrants from Haiti have gathered in hopes of being granted asylum. 

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said the footage was “devastating.”

“I’ve seen some of the footage,” Psaki said at a briefing Monday. “I don’t have the full context. I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate. But I don’t have additional details.”

Michigan Judge Jonathan Tukel, an ex-Federal Prosecutor, Dies at 60

By Allan Lengel

Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Jonathan Tukel, a former federal prosecutor, died Friday. He was 60.

Jonathan Tukel

“Judge Tukel’s devotion to the rule of law and the constitution was surpassed only by his love and dedication to his family, friends and the University of Michigan, where he was an adjunct professor,” said Chief Judge Christopher M. Murray in a statement.

The cause of death was not immediately disclosed.

Tukel of Orchard Lake was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 2017, and was later elected.

A graduate of University Michigan undegrad and law school, he joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1990 where he went on to become chief of the National Security Unit, overseeing counter-terrorism, terrorist-financing, export control and other programs.

Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Tukel was an associate at the law firm of Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohn, where he focused on antitrust, labor, employment discrimination and wrongful termination and white collar criminal defense.

In 2012, he received the Attorney General Award from the Department of Justice for “Excellence in Furthering the Interest in U.S. National Security.” 

Kris Dighe, a former prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote on Facebook:

“This news about my friend and former colleague saddens me. Jon was a bright and talented attorney who brought a ferocious dedication and sound judgment to everything he did.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Straus, a friend and former colleague said Saturday:

“Yesterday we lost a great friend, a great colleague and a great legal mind. He’ll be clearly missed by many.”  

Former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade tweeted:

The passing of Judge Jonathan Tukel is a tremendous loss to our legal community and all of us who knew him. Jon was smart, funny, and deeply committed to the rule of law. Glad he got to see his beloved @umichfootball start the season undefeated.

He is survived by wife Sandra Tukel, children Steven Tukel, Henry Tukel and Andrew Tukel and sister  Susan Tukel and brother Daniel Tukel.

An outdoor funeral was held on Sunday in Birmingham, Mich.  

Sen. Grassley Urges Attorney General to Appoint Federal Investigator to Review Botched Nassar Case

Sen. Chuck Grassley

By Steve Neavling

Sen. Chuck Grassley is calling on a federal investigation into the FBI’s mishandling of the Larry Nassar case.

Grassley, the top member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Attorney General Merrick Garland should appoint a federal prosecutor or special counsel to examine the botched investigation and potentially pursue criminal charges. 

“Nassar abused hundreds of young athletes while FBI sat on its thumb,” Grassley said in a written statement Friday. “DOJ refused to attend the Judiciary Committee hearing this week to face questions. Attorney General Garland should assign a federal prosecutor or special counsel to uncover what the FBI knew and when, as well as to seek prosecutions of those involved in the cover-up. These brave gymnasts and all Nassar survivors deserve accountability, especially from the Justice Department.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday heard testimony from U.S. gymnasts and FBI Director Christopher Wray, who apologized for the bureau’s handling of the case.

Two months earlier, the Justice Department’s Inspector General concluded that the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office “failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required.”

In the meantime, Grassley and his colleagues are working on legislation that would strengthen a federal “child sex tourist” statute that the inspector general said was inadequate. 

CBP Temporarily Closes Del Rio Border Crossing in Response to Influx of Migrants

By Steve Neavling

U.S. customs and Border Protection has temporarily closed the Del Rio border crossing with Mexico as authorities grapple with a large influx of migrants who formed a makeshift campuses under a bridge. 

CBP announced Friday that it was re-rerouting traffic from Del Rio to Eagle Pass in Texas to manage resources and free up the flow of travel and trade. 

“This temporary closure and shift is necessary in order for CBP to respond to urgent safety and security needs presented by an influx of migrants into Del Rio and is effective immediately,” CBP said in a news release. “It will advance and protect national interests and help ensure the safety of the traveling public, commercial traffic, and CBP employees and facilities.”

The inundation of migrants, mostly Haitians, has strained resources in Del Rio, a bilingual town of 36,000 residents. Authorities estimate more than 12,900 migrants have tried to cross the border into Del Rio.  

The migrants entered the country illegally and are hoping to claim asylum. 

Weekend Series on Crime History: Mongols Motorcycle Gang

Homeland Security Warns about Potential for Violence at ‘Justice for J6’ Rally

Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo via Shutterstock.

By Steve Neavling

Homeland Security officials expressed concern about the potential for violence at an upcoming right-wing rally to advocate for the jailed Jan. 6 rioters. 

In a bulletin to law enforcement partners, the Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis warned about a “small number of recent online threats” related to the Justice for J6 rally on Saturday and noted there were “online discussions encouraging violence the day before the rally,” CBS News reports.

Meanwhile, U.S. Capitol Police are erecting a chain-link fence around the Capitol building and requested the National Guard Quick Reaction Force and D.C. Metropolitan police to be prepared in the event of violence. 

The bulletin says that some social media users discussed rushing the Capitol, and one user “commented on kidnapping an identified member of Congress.”

“Other references to violence identified on social media include discussions of using the rally to target local Jewish institutions, elected officials, and ‘liberal churches,'” the bulletin states. 

Authorities expected as many as 700 people attend the rally. 

Making matters worse, former President Trump criticized the prosecution of hundreds of rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, CNBC reports.

“Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election,” Trump said in a written statement. 

“In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice. In the end, however, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!” Trump said.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., responded by accusing Trump  of “trying again to gin up insurrection and get people killed.”

“I’ve called for trump to be arrested and prosecuted for his Jan 6 treason,” Pascrell tweeted. “Nothing has changed.”