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Archive for October, 2021

Giuliani’s Pal Lev Parnas Convicted

By Allan Lengel

In a criminal case that was a carryover from the Trump Justice Department, Lev Parnas, a Florida businessman and former associate of Rudy Giuliani, was convicted Friday in New York of using funds from a foreign investor to influence political candidates with campaign donations, the Washington Post reports.

Lev Parnas

It took a federal jury less than a day to convict Parnas, a naturalized U.S. citizen, of fraud. He was charged with giving campaign money to several state and federal candidates to get access to them. He was also found guilty on counts related to a $325,000 donation in 2018 to a joint fundraising committee that supported then-President Donald Trump, the Post reports.

Prosecutors also alleged that Parnas lied to the Federal Elections Commission about the source of the 2018 donation.

Giuliani was not charged in the case, but remains under federal investigation. It is unclear if prosecutors will get Parnas to flip on Giuliani in exchange for leniency.

Shayna Jacobs of the The Post writes:

While Parnas’s trial did not directly relate to Giuliani or Trump, the guilty verdict still provides a legal coda to a precarious moment in Trump’s presidency: his first impeachment trial. Parnas, a Ukrainian native, was recruited to help Giuliani seek damaging information on Joe Biden and his son Hunter prior to the 2020 election. Trump was accused of threatening to withhold badly needed aid to Ukraine if officials there did not announce a criminal investigation into the Bidens.

Weekend Series on Crime: The Russian Mob

Border Arrests Reach Record Numbers in 2021 Fiscal Year

File photo, via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling

A record number of migrants have been arrested along the Mexico border with more than 1.7 million detainments during the 2021 fiscal year, The Washington Post reports.

By comparison, the average number of migrants taken into custody in the fiscal years between 2012 and 2020 was 540,000.  

In the first nine months of Biden’s administration, U.S. authorities have detained more than 1.3 million migrants, including 192,000 last month. 

Republicans have blamed Biden’s laxer immigration policies on the surge. 

During the 2021 fiscal year, more than 608,000 Mexican nationals were arrested, representing the largest source of illegal migration. 

The second-largest source of illegal migration was outside Mexico and Central America, in a category called “other,” which includes Haitians, Venezuelans, Ecuadorans, Cubans, Brazilians and migrants from dozens of other nations. 

Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador followed. 

“Migration to the U.S.-Mexico border is now truly global,” Cris Ramón, an independent immigration consultant in Washington, said. “The implications for immigration policy require a far more comprehensive approach because it’s not enough to say you have to deter migration from Mexico or Central America. This has become a far more complex problem for the administration to deal with.”

AG Garland Defends Order for FBI to Investigate Threats at School Board Meetings

Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before House Judiciary Committee. Photo: Congress.

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday defended his decision to order the FBI to investigate threats against educators and school board members, saying the Justice Department does not want to silence parents. 

“We are trying to prevent violence and threats of violence. It’s not only about schools — we have similar concerns about election workers,” Garland testified before the House Judiciary Committee, The Washington Post reports. “This is a rising problem in the United States, of threats of violence, and we are trying to prevent the violence.”

Republicans criticized the directive, which Garland issued on Oct. 4, saying it had a chilling effect on speech. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said the directive amounted to “a snitch line on parents.”

“There’s nothing in this memorandum that has any effect on the kinds of curriculums that are taught or the ability of the parents to complain,” Garland responded.

Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, said the directive was an overreach. 

“We don’t need the vast power of the federal government throwing its weight around,” Chabot said. “We don’t need you, the Justice Department, or the FBI trampling on the rights of parents.”

Garland also indicated that the Trump-era investigation into the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe is “still in action.”

Foundation Creates Fund for Family of ATF Agent Who Was Critically Injured in Shooting

By Steve Neavling

The National Police Defense Foundation is raising money for the family of an ATF agent who was critically injured in a shootout in early October in Tennessee. 

Special Agent Adam Daniels was trying to arrest Corey Daniel Wellman as part of a drug-related investigation when the shootout occurred in a parking lot along Murfreesboro Pike in Nashville. 

Wellman was killed in the shooting. 

Daniels remains at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville with serious injuries. 

“His family has been devastated by the shooting and have incurred significant expenses for out of state travel, lodging and associated costs so they could be with the agent to provide the support he needs during his hospitalization and the long road toward recovery and physical rehabilitation,” the foundation states.

All of the contributions will go directly to Daniels’ family. To donate, call 1-888-SAFE-COP or visit the foundation’s website.

Long-Delayed Plans to Build New FBI Headquarters May Soon Be Back on Track

The FBI’s current headquarters in Washington D.C., named after J. Edgar Hoover.

By Steve Neavling

The long-delayed construction of a new a FBI headquarters may be back on track with the introduction of appropriation bills in the Senate. 

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Financial Services and General Government panel, announced this week language in a bill that would restart the project. 

Van Hollen blamed former President Trump for delaying the project. Trump has long called for the headquarters, which is a stone’s throw from his Washington D.C. hotel, to be built downtown, rather than in the suburbs.

“For the last four years, President Trump did all he could to block our efforts to construct a new FBI consolidated headquarters that meets the security and capacity needs of the Bureau solely because it stood to hurt his personal financial interests,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “We fought back tooth and nail, and now, it’s past time to get this project back on track. That’s why I worked to include language in our proposed legislation requiring GSA to provide an update on the construction of a new headquarters and urging the FBI and GSA to work together to move forward. The status quo is unacceptable.”

Van Hollen has advocated for a new FBI headquarters in Maryland.

The FBI has been searching for a new headquarters for years, but funding problems continue to delay the project. The current headquarters is cramped and outdated, critics say. 

The bill’s new language says:

SEC. 530. (a) No later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the General Services Administration shall transmit to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate, a report on the construction of a new headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the National Capital Region.

(b) The report transmitted under subsection (a) shall be consistent with the requirements of section 3307(b) of title 40, United States Code, and include a summary of the material provisions of the construction and consolidation of the FBI in a new headquarters facility, including all the costs associated with site acquisition, design, management, and inspection, and a description of all buildings and infrastructure needed to complete the project.

(c) Any FBI headquarters project shall result in a consolidation of space in the National Capital Area and shall meet key tenets of the space, transportation, and security requirements included in the General Services Administration’s Fiscal Year 2017 prospectus (PNCR–FBI–NCR 17).

Retired FBI Official Louie Frederick Allen Dies at 74

By Allan Lengel

Louie Frederick Allen, who worked for the FBI for nearly 26 years in various capacities including as head of the Newark Field Office, died last week (Oct. 15) at Samaritan Hospital in Troy, N.Y. He was 74.

Louie F. Allen

“Louie rose to the highest ranks of the FBI and never forgot that he was a public servant first and foremost,” said retired FBI official Andrew Arena, who heads the Detroit Crime Commission. “The mission of the FBI and the welfare of his employees were always first, he never thought of his own career.  That’s why he was so loved and respected throughout the Bureau. I will miss him terribly.”

A Pittsburgh native, Allen started his career with the FBI in 1978 and worked at field offices in the Mobile, Ala., Washington, D.C. and Cleveland. While at FBI headquarters, he was responsible for contingency plans and emergency response for special events such as the 1988 Democratic and Republican National Conventions and the 1989 Presidential Inauguration.

He was special agent in charge of the Albany Field Office before FBI Director Robert S. Mueller appointed him in 2002 as head of the Newark Field Office. Two years later, he retired from the FBI.

A Vietnam vet, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force in 1969. That year he joined the Pittsburgh Police Department where he rose to rank of detective. From 1969 to 1976, he earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

In 1978, he joined the FBI. After he left the bureau in 2004, he took a post as chief of detectives for the Prosecutor’s Office of Essex County, New Jersey. He held that post until 2007.

He then joined the New York State government as director of Internal Affairs for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. In January 2010, he was named the first African American Sergeant at Arms for the New York Senate.

“Louie was a true renaissance man who had an affinity for reading a myriad of books across genres,” said an obit published on the Bryce Funeral Home. “Louie was a dedicated sports fan, especially to his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers, and used his love of sports to mentor young people. As a man who travelled across the world, including an annual trip to Aruba with his beloved wife Peggie, Louie consistently found joy by spending time with his family and friends over a savory meal that almost always included chicken.”

He is survived by wife Peggie; sons, Deputy Sheriff Christopher B. Allen and Jonathan F. Allen, both of Cleveland; his grandchildren, Christopher B. Allen, Jr., Sydney N. Allen, Brandon L. Allen, Sophia A. Allen; his siblings, Richard C. Rhodes, Jr. and Dawn Allen; and several nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. He was predeceased by his brother, Theodore B. Jones. 

The funeral is set for Friday.

Magnus, Biden’s Nominee to Lead CBP, Takes Hot Seat During Senate Confirmation Hearing

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, picked to lead CBP.

By Steve Neavling

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, President Biden’s nominee to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection, fielded tough questions about border security and immigration during a Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday. 

Magnus sought to assuage some Republicans by signaling support for two of former President Trump’s most controversial policies. He said he would consider finishing some of the border wall that the Biden administration has stopped and indicated he supported the Trump-era public health order that authorizes the rapid removal of migrants and asylum-seekers without an immigration hearing, The Washington Post reports.

Magnus also told the Senate Finance Committee that border security should be balanced with humane treatment of migrants. 

“I think humanity has to be part of the discussion early and often throughout the careers of CBP members,” he said.

“We do our jobs enforcing the law, but how we engage with the public, even the public we may be arresting, is what defines us as professionals, and it’s something we have a moral obligation to do,” Magnus said. 

Magnus, 60, doesn’t need Republican support to advance to a full Senate vote as long as all of the Democrats on the committee back him. 

Magnus, who has served as Tucson’s police chief since 2016, was a vocal critic of some of Trump’s immigration policies and a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

If confirmed by the Senate, Magnus has a tough job ahead of him as the nation grapples with a border crisis and the separation of migrant children from their families. 

Magnus also would be the first openly gay CBP commissioner. 

Biden’s ATF nominee David Chipman floundered in the Senate after every Republican and Angus King, an independent from Maine, refused to support him.