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Archive for February, 2022

Chicago Man Faces Assault Charges for Allegedly Spitting in Face of FBI Agent

By Steve Neavling

A 55-year-old Chicago man is facing federal assault charges after authorities say he spit in the face of an FBI special agent. 

The incident occurred while the agent was in his car on the morning of Jan. 12, waiting in line to enter the parking lot at the FBI’s Chicago Field Office, The Chicago Tribune reports

Behind him was Jerome Bychowski, who began honking the horn of his van, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday. When the agent asked Bychowski to stop honking, the man pulled his van next to the agent’s vehicle and said he was honking at the SUV in front of the agent. 

Bychowski grew angry when the agent refused to talk to the driver of the SUV.

“Go inside and do your (expletive) job,” Bychowski is accused of saying. 

After the agent asked Bychowski to calm down and get back in his van, Bychowski drove next to the SUV, walked toward the agent and then said, “If you’re such a tough guy, get out of the car and show me.”

The agent remained in his car and again told Bychowski to stop being aggressive. At that point, Bychowski allegedly called the agent an “(expletive) who’s hiding behind your job and your car and afraid of getting your ass kicked.”

The Bychowski spat at the agent through the agent’s open driver’s window, striking him in the cheek and forehead, according to the complaint. 

After the agent advised Bychowski that he had committed a crime, he got back in his van and began reversing, the complaint states. This time the agent got out of his car and again told Bychowski against that he had committee a crime. 

Bychowski responded, “Good luck proving it – there’s video.”

Turns out, the driver of the SUV was also an FBI agent and heard Bychowski admit that he had spit on the agent, according to the complaint. Using his cell phone, the agent took pictures of Bychowski and his license plate. 

Retired Detroit Federal Judge Avern Cohn Dies at 97

By Allan Lengel

Retired Detroit U.S. District Judge Judge Avern Cohn, a voracious reader, intellect and a true character who presided over high-profile cases in four decades on the Detroit bench, died Friday night. He was 97.

Judge Avern Cohn celebrating his 95 birthday in July 2019 in the federal courthouse.

He had been in declining health and died at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak in suburban Detroit. The cause of death was not immediately disclosed.

The Birmingham resident retired in 2019, but continued to stay in touch with the many colleagues and friends from his days on the bench.

“Avern Cohn, one of the more brilliant and profoundly intellectual judges ever to sit on the federal bench, died last night, a few months shy of his 98th birthday,” wrote close friend and journalist Jack Lessenberry on Facebook Saturday morning.

“He was intellectually active to the end, writing pieces and columns that alerted the powerful to problems and injustices in the legal system and elsewhere, and working on groundbreaking pieces about early Michigan history,” wrote Lessenberry co-author of a 2021 biography of Cohn titled “Thinking About ‘The Other Fella.'”

Cohn, who could be fiery on the bench, was also compassionate and reasonable in sentencing. He retired in 2019. 

“We will never see another one like him,” said attorney Steve Fishman, who practiced before him. “He was unique unto himself. The thing I will remember most about Avern Cohn was he could dish it out, but he could also take it when lawyers dished it back.” 

Cohn’s prominent cases included the bribery trial of Detroit 36th District Judge Leon Jenkins, a civil case involving Robert Kearns, inventor of intermittent windshield wipers, a First Amendment case involving University of Michigan student Jake Baker and the bribery sentencing of Detroit Councilwoman Monica Conyers following her guilty plea. 

Born on July 23, 1924, he was raised in “a typical middle-class Jewish upbringing in Detroit’s ‘golden ghetto,'” as he describes it in a Michigan Bar Journal article two years ago. As a kid he rode his bike around northwest Detroit and played ball in vacant lots. In the summer, he went to sleepaway camps. In 1937, he had his bar mitzvah at Sharrey Zedek in Detroit.

In 1942, he graduated from Central High School in Detroit. 

He was selected during World War II  for an Army Specialized Traning Program. He was sent to pre-engineering, then pre-medical training and then medical school. After the war, he abandoned the idea of being a doctor and earned a law degree a the University of Michigan. He worked at his father’s law firm, Irwin I. Cohn, from 1949-61, and then Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn in Detroit from 1961-79.

President Jimmy Carter nominated him to the bench on May 17, 1979 at age 54. The U.S. Senate confirmed him later that year.

It took a while to get there. Cohn said he had aspired to become a federal judge from the day he stepped into a federal courtroom in 1949, but had to wait 30 years, according to an obituary released by the federal court.

In 1966, he expressed interest in the bench, but then-Sen. Phil Hart had someone else in mind. He tried again under President Jimmy Carter in 1976, but Sen. Donald Riegle Jr. was hesitant to recommend him to Carter.

“Riegle was concerned that I lacked judicial temperament — and he was right,” Cohn told the federal court’s historical society in 2005. “I had never been a shrinking violet. I was militant, excitable, forceful, occasionally probably interrupted people, occasionally irritated people.”

Riegle eventually changed his mind after getting pressure from Mayor Coleman A. Young,  then-UAW President Doug Fraser and the Jewish community, Cohn said.

Over the years, Cohn was clearly one of the more notable characters in the federal courthouse. It wasn’t unusual to see him kibbitzing (chatting) with lawyers and journalists in his chambers, the halls or at lunch. And fellow judges often turned to him for advice and guidance. 

On his birthday, he often went for lunch with staff and friends to celebrate down the street at Lafayette Coney Island.

“Judge Cohn was thee most voracious reader that anyone could imagine,” said criminal defense attorney and former assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Morgan. “When he went away his staff packed two large boxed-type brief cases with things to read. More importantly, he had an even bigger heart than his appetite to read.”

Defense attorney Sanford Plotkin admired his fairness.

“Starting as a young federal defender and through the years, my eyes would light up when his name was on my case because I knew he would do the right thing and you didn’t have to worry about it,” Plotkin said.

Before taking the bench, while in private practice, Cohn served on the Michigan Social Welfare Commission in 1963, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1972-75 and the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners from 1975-79. 

He was also politcally active, working on presidential campaigns including Adlai Stevenson’s and John F. Kennedy’s and Frank Kelley for U.S. Senate in 1972.

Cohn married Joyce Ann Hochman in 1954. They had three children, Sheldon, Leslie and Tom. She passed in 1989. In 1992, he married Lois Padover Pincus. 

Last November, he celebrated his biography’s release at Franklin Hills Country Club. Lessenberry described the self-published book as part biography and part anthology — “sort of an Avern Cohn compendium.” 

Aviva Kempner, a Washington, D.C., documentary filmmaker who grew up in Detroit and was close friends with Cohn, said Saturday morning:

“Avern started out as my parent’s dear friend, and turned out to be a great friend of mine and supporter of my films. I was always elated when Avern saw one of my films and gave it a thumbs up.  Visiting Detroit was always highlighted by having a stimulating dinner with Avern and Lois.” 

He was a regular reader of ticklethewire.com.

Cohn is survived by his wife Lois, his children, stepdaughters Lisa Pincus and Julie Pincus, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. 

The funeral is scheduled for Monday at 2 p.m. at Ira Kaufman Chapel, 18325 W. Nine Mile Rd., Southfield. 

Carl Landrum Named Chief Patrol Agent of Border Patrol’s Laredo Sector

Carl Landrum, chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol’s Laredo Sector in Texas.

By Steve Neavling

Carl E. Landrum has been tapped to serve as chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol’s Laredo Sector in Texas. 

Since December, Landrum had been serving as the sector’s deputy patrol agent.

Since joining Border Patrol in 1996, Landum has served in numerous supervisory and command positions, including special agent with the Federal Air Marshal Service in New York City and assistant chief patrol agent at Border Patrol headquarters in Washington D.C.

In 2011, Landrum was promoted to patrol agent in charge of the Cotulla Border Patrol Station in Texas, and in 2012, he became patrol agent in charge of the Laredo North Border Patrol Station. 

In 2014, Landum was promoted to division chief at the Laredo Sector. He also created the Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Force West in San Antonio. 

In 2016, he became deputy chief patrol agent of the Yuma Sector. 

Before joining Border Patrol, Landrum received a bachelor’s degree of science in information systems from the University of Phoenix. He earned a master’s degree in strategic studies form the U.S. Army War College and became the first civilian to attend the school’s Advanced Strategic Art Program.

The Laredo Sector covers over more than 84,000 square miles in 96 counties from the U.S.-Mexico border to the borders of Texasand Oklahoma and Arkansas and has more than 1,900 employees. The Laredo Sector has nine stations: Laredo North, Laredo South, Laredo West, Zapata, Cotulla, Hebbronville, Freer, San Antonio, and Dallas. 

One of FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives Is Captured After Being on the Run for 16 Years

Octaviano Juarez-Corro

By Steve Neavling

A man accused of opening fire at a crowded Milwaukee park and killing two people and injuring three others in May 2006 was captured in Mexico, the FBI announced Friday. 

Octaviano Juarez-Corro, who disappeared after the shooting, was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in September. 

He was wanted on two counts of first-degree homicide, three counts of attempted intentional homicide, and one count of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. 

Acting on a tip, the FBI, with the help of Mexican authorities, found Juarez-Corro on Thursday evening in Guadalajara. 

“Octaviano Juarez-Corro spent the last 16 years running from law enforcement, hiding in another country, and believing time and distance was on his side,” Michael Hensle, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Milwaukee Field Office, said in a statement. “The FBI has a long reach and extraordinary law enforcement partnerships across the globe. I commend the tireless efforts of all our partners from Milwaukee to Mexico in closely coordinating with the FBI in capturing this wanted fugitive and helping to bring this violent offender to justice, as well as closure to the victims and their families.” 

According to authorities, hundreds of people were gathered at South Shore Park on the banks of Lake Michigan when Juarez-Corro approached a friend of his estranged wife and struck up a conversation. He and his wife, who shared a daughter, were close to finalizing a divorce at the time. 

Juarez-Corro opened fire at the park, striking his wife with two gunshot wounds in the chest, authorities allege. She survived. 

Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman thanked the FBI for capturing Juarez-Corro.  

“The Milwaukee Police Department appreciates all of the efforts by the FBI and assisting law enforcement agencies involved in the apprehension of Octaviano Juarez-Corro,” Norman said. “With his capture, we are one step closer to bringing justice and closure to the victims, the victims’ families and everyone that was impacted by this tragic incident.”

Weekend Series on Crime Shows: Narcos

Homeland Security Evaluates Robot Dogs to Help Patrol Southern Border

One of the robot dogs that are being evaluated for use at the border. Photo: Ghost Robotics via CBP.

By Steve Neavling

Homeland Security is considering deploying robot dogs to help patrol the border with Mexico.

The autonomous, four-legged drones were tested on the field as part of what DHS said were “successful” trials, The Verge reports.

Built by Ghost Robotics, the quadrupedal robots can travel more than 7.5 mph, with the most popular model standing 2.5 feet high and weighing 70 pounds. 

DHS hopes the robots, which can be equipped with thermal and night vision cameras, can be used for surveillance. The idea is to reduce the risk to humans in areas with rugged terrain and extreme temperatures. 

“Don’t be surprised if in the future we see robot ‘Fido’ out in the field, walking side-by-side with CBP personnel,” the agency’s Science and Technology Directorate said this week in a written statement.

Border Patrol Agents Shot at Again While Patrolling Rio Grande Valley in Texas

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is investigating after Border Patrol agents patrolling in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas came under fire from the Mexican side of the border on Wednesday. 

It’s the same area where agents were shot at on Jan. 1, Townhall reports.

“On February 2, 2022, at approximately 6:00 p.m. CST, Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol agents responded to a report of suspected migrants near Fronton, Texas,” CBP said in a statement. “Responding agents reported shots fired from Mexico. Texas Department of Public Safety, Starr County Sheriff’s Office, and additional agents responded to the location.”

In addition to the FBI, CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility is also investigating. 

According to Fox News national correspondent Bill Melugin, agents returned fire. 

No injuries were reported. 

In the same area on Jan. 1, a Border Patrol agent came under fire while arresting an undocumented migrant. A Border Patrol vehicle was struck with three bullets. 

Ghost Guns Partly Behind Rise in Crime, ATF Says

Homemade gun seized by U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle in February 2020.

By Steve Neavling

Ghost guns are partly to blame for the increase in crime, the ATF told CBS News.

Ghost guns are sold without background checks, are untraceable and end up in the hands of criminals. In 2006, the ATF stopped consider ghost guns as firearms. 

“You can buy a box of firearms parts, and you can assemble those firearms together. And I’ve seen videos on YouTube, where you can see people doing it in record time — 20, 30 minutes,” ATF Acting Director Marvin Richardson told CBS News. 

Seizures of ghost guns have sharply increased in New York City, where police confiscated 145 in 2020 and 225 last year, compared to 17 in 2018 and 48 in 2019. 

In October, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on the ATF to crack down on ghost guns.

An additional 455 ghost guns were seized in Chicago and more than 300 in Baltimore. 

Richardson said the guns are ending up in the hands of criminals and gang members with whom law enforcement are familiar. 

“So what we’ve learned is that those people that we go after have an average of eight arrests prior to us having that contact with them,” he said. “In many instances, eight violent criminal arrests, so we’re not talking about people that are shrinking violets.”