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Archive for April, 2022

FBI Offers Reward for Information on Vandalism of Petroglyphs in New Mexico

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible for vandalizing the Native American petroglyphs at La Cieneguilla near Santa Fe. 

Authorities say the petroglyphs, which date to between the 13th and 17th centuries, were spray painted. 

The vandalism occurred on or about Jan. 19. 

“Visitors from around the world come to New Mexico to admire wonderful Native American cultural resources like the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs,” Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda of the Albuquerque FBI Division said in a statement. “It’s hard to believe someone would try to ruin these priceless works of art and show such disrespect for this area’s unique heritage. The FBI is asking anyone with information about this vandalism to come forward so we can ensure this crime doesn’t go unpunished.”

The property is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 

“The impacts of damage to these petroglyphs reach beyond public enjoyment of the landscape; it destroys the tribal history within this sacred place,” BLM Taos Field Manager Pamela Mathis said. “Additionally, this atrocious act takes away from critical scientific, historical and social resources that society cannot recreate.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI at (800) CALL-FBI or online at tips.fbi.gov. 

TSA Agents Find Long Blade Inside Traveler’s Cane at Airport

By Steve Neavling

TSA officers at Logan International Airport in Boston discovered a long blade hidden inside a traveler’s cane. 

The man told Massachusetts State Police that he had “no idea” there was blade in the cane, according to the TSA. 

“After surrounding the cane, he was cleared to continue. #travelfail,” a TSA spokesman tweeted. 

The TSA often finds dangerous objects hidden inside otherwise common items. Late last month at Logan International Airport, TSA officers found a 10-inch butcher knife in a baby car seat. 

Earlier this month, TSA discovered a dagger concealed in a hairbrush handle at the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport. 

Last year, TSA agents discovered exploding golf balls, a stun gun disguised as a smart phone, a Nightmare on Elm Street-themed cleaver, exploding golf balls, grenades, a realistic replica bomb, a machine gun bong and bullets hidden in a Mentos gun container. 

James A. Tarasca Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Detroit Field Office

Special Agent in Charge James A. Tarasca

By Steve Neavling

James A. Tarasca, who was serving as deputy assistant director in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters, has been named special agent in charge of the Detroit Field Office, the bureau announced.

Tarasca’s career with the FBI began in 1999, when he was assigned to the Orlando Resident Agency of the Tampa Field Office in Florida to investigate white-collar crime. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he began investigating counterterrorism throughout Central Florida. He also served as a firearms instructor and a member of the Tampa SWAT team. 

In 2003, Tarasca joined the Hostage Rescue Team, based at Quantico, Va. In addition to participating in numerous domestic operations, he was deployed internationally, including to Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008, he became supervisory special agent and team leader. 

In 2011, Tarasca transferred to the Philadelphia Field Office, where he served on the Violent Crimes Task Force. In 2013, he became supervisory special agent of the task force before returning to Afghanistan in 2016 to work counterterrorism and kidnapping matters. 

In 2017, Tarasca was named assistant special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division of the New York Field Office and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. 

In 2018, Tarasca was promoted to section chief in the International Operations Division, where he oversaw FBI operations in Europe and Eurasia and the Global Readiness Unit. In 2019, he returned to the New York Field Office, serving as special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division and JTTF. 

In 2021, he was named deputy assistant director of operations in the Counterterrorism Division at headquarters in 2021. 

Tarasca received the FBI Director’s Award for Excellence in Leadership, two FBI Shields of Bravery, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery. He has a bachelor’s degree in management from Eastern University and was a Pennsylvania state trooper before joining the FBI.  

Weekend Series on Crime: The New Orleans Mob Boss

William Webster, Ex-FBI, CIA Director, Is Selling D.C. Home for $2.8M

By Steve Neavling

William Webster, the former director of the FBI and CIA, is selling his 1947 home in Washington D.C. for $2.8 million, The Washington Post reports

The 4,530-square-foot home was designed by famed architect Van Tuyl Hart Bien and includes a sunken living room with French doors, a family room with a gas fireplace, and a bedroom with a fireplace and balcony. 

Webster and his wife Lynda purchased the house in 1993. 

Webster was the FBI director from 1978 to 1987 and head of the CIA from 1987 to 1991. 

FBI Begins Investigating Handling of Classified Documents Removed from Trump’s White House

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is starting to investigate former President Trump for removing 15 boxes of White House records that contained classified documents, The New York Times reports.

The records were taken from the White House at the end of Trump’s term and were found at his Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago after he left office. 

The Justice Department said the investigation is in its preliminary stages. 

The National Archives was ordered not to disclose details about the documents to the House Oversight Committee, which is conducting its own investigation. 

In turn, committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., accused the Justice Department of obstructing the committee’s probe, The Washington Post reports.

In a letter Thursday to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Maloney requested an explanation.

“The Committee does not wish to interfere in any manner with any potential or ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice,” Maloney wrote. “However, the Committee has not received any explanation as to why the Department is preventing NARA from providing information to the Committee that relates to compliance with the [Presidential Records Act], including unclassified information describing the contents of the 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago.”

AG Garland Tests Positive for COVID-19 After Unmasked Press Conference with FBI Director

Attorney General Merrick Garland. (Photo: DOJ)

By Steve Neavling

Attorney General Merrick Garland has tested positive for COVID-19, the Justice Department announced just hours after he held a news conference with FBI Director Christopher Wray, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and others. 

Garland, 69, was not experiencing symptoms and tested positive after learning he may have been exposed to the virus, the DOJ said, according to ABC News.

“He asked to be tested after learning that he may have been exposed,” the DOJ said in a statement.

Garland, who is vaccinated and boosted, will follow CDC guidelines and work virtually from home while in quarantine. 

Garland tested positive after attending a Gridiron dinner in Washington D.C. on Saturday. Others who attended the event – Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas – have tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

As of Thursday morning, there was no word on Wray, Monaco and others who attended the unmasked press conference Wednesday.

2 Men Accused of Impersonating Homeland Security Agents, Providing Secret Service with Free Gifts

By Steve Neavling

Two men are accused of impersonating federal agents and providing expensive gifts to Secret Service officers and agents for the past two years.

More than a dozen FBI agents barged into a luxury apartment building in Southeast Washington on Wednesday evening and arrested Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 36, The Associated Press reports

They are accused of falsely claiming they worked for Homeland Security and were on a special task force investigating gang and violence connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The pair allegedly posed as law enforcement in order to build a relationship with real agents. 

Taherzadeh gave Secret Service officers and agents rent-free apartments, surveillance systems, a drone, a TV, iPhones, a generator, a gun case and other policing equipment, according to prosecutors. Taherzadeh is also accused of offering to buy a $2,000 assault rifle for a Secret Service agent assigned to protect the first lady. 

Four Secret Service agents who associated with the pair have been placed on leave pending an investigation. 

Taherzadeh and Ali’s next court appointment is scheduled for Thursday.