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Archive for June, 2022

Supreme Court Protects Border Patrol Agents from Lawsuits

U.S. Supreme Court

By Steve Neavling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Border Patrol agents cannot be personally sued for violating the Constitution by using excessive force, The New York Times reports.

The 6-3 decision is a victory for law enforcement officials who are accused of constitutional violations. 

The ruling effectively increases federal officers’ immunity from private lawsuits. 

The case involved Robert Boule, the owner of a bed-and-breakfast in Washington state who filed a lawsuit against a Border Patrol agent who was accused of unlawfully entering his property and then assaulting him in 2014. Boule argued the agent violated his constitutional rights. 

Larry Nassar’s Survivors Sue FBI for Mishandling Sexual Abuse Investigation

Larry Nassar is charged with child pornography.

By Steve Neavling

More than 90 women who say they were were sexually abused by the disgraced USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar have filed lawsuits against the FBI for mishandling the investigation. 

The women are seeking more than $1 billion from the bureau, The Washington Post reports

“My fellow survivors and I were betrayed by every institution that was supposed to protect us — the U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S.A. Gymnastics, the F.B.I. and now the Department of Justice,” Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney said in a statement. “It is clear that the only path to justice and healing is through the legal process,” she added.

An inspector general report in July 2021 found that the FBI failed to properly investigate the allegations. The bureau, for example, waited five weeks to interview one of the victims and failed to notify the FBI’s Lansing office or state law enforcement.

The report also accused W. Jay Abbot, the then-special agent in charge of the Indianapolis Field Office, of lying to the inspector general during the internal investigation “to minimize errors” made by his office.

According to the report, Nassar sexually abused at least 70 young athletes between 2015 and August 2016. Nassar is effectively serving a life sentence in prison. 

Last month, the Justice Department said it decided it won’t pursue charges against two FBI agents for mishandling the investigation.

Trump Pressured Secret Service to Provide Route to Capitol on Jan. 6

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

Secret Service agents hurried to find a way for then-President Donald Trump to ride in a motorcade with his followers as they marched on Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. 

In the weeks leading up to the “Stop the Steal” rally, Trump frequently told the Secret Service that he planned to march to the Capitol, The Washington Post reports.

The agency declined his earlier requests, but scrambled to accommodate him on Jan. 6. At the time, Trump encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol. He suggested he would join the protesters. 

“We’re going to walk down to the Capitol,” Trump told his supporters. 

According to witnesses who were interviewed by the House Jan. 6 committee, Secret Service requested that D.C. police block intersections to make way for a motorcade. Police, who were already stretched thin, declined the request. 

“We were asked, and the response was no,” said Dora Taylor-Lowe, a spokeswoman for the D.C. deputy mayor that oversees the police department.

Thousands of Border Patrol Agents Face Potential Termination for Refusing COVID-19 Vaccine

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

Thousands of Border Patrol agents face potential termination for refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, at a time when the agency is struggling with staffing. 

Of the roughly 21,000 agents, nearly 4,000 disclosed that they were unvaccinated as of late November 2021, the Washington Examiner reports.

The federal government is requiring all of its employees to be vaccinated. 

A court paused that mandate in January. But in April, another court revived the mandate, putting federal employees at risk of termination. 

“That bar is now lifted, and the federal agencies are now clear to proceed with whatever disciplinary actions they were going to move on with respect to unvaccinated people,” said John J. Michels Jr., counsel for the Federal Practice Group in Washington. 

Five Proud Boy Members Charged with Seditious Conspiracy in Jan. 6 Riot

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

Five members of the right-wing extremist group, the Proud Boys, were charged Monday with seditious conspiracy for their actions ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

Henry “Enrique” Torrio, the group’s longtime leader, was among those charged. Four top associates – Ethan Nordean, 31; Joseph Biggs, 38; Zachary Rehl, 37; and Dominic Pezzola, 44 – also were charged. 

They are accused of plotting to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s election as early as December 2020. 

They are set to make their first court appearances on Thursday in Washington. 

The Proud Boys described themselves as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world, aka Western Chauvinists.”

The FBI is investigating the case, and it’s being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. 

Since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 800 people have been arrested for their role in the U.S. Capitol riot. Of those, 250 have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. 

Three Charged with Kidnapping FBI Victim Specialist in South Dakota

Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

Three people accused of kidnapping an FBI victim specialist have been indicted by a grand jury. 

Juan Francisco Alvarez-Soto, Deyvin Morales and Lourdes Alondra Bonilla were charged with kidnapping, carjacking, and brandishing a handgun during a crime of violence, the Associated Press reports.

They allegedly brandished a rifle and kidnapped FBI Victim Specialist Curt Lauinger while he was working in Red Shirt, S.D., on May 6. 

Details of the case remain murky, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to provide additional information. 

Man Accused of Shooting U.S. Marshal and K-9 Was Charged with Attempted Murder And Other Counts

Tarrion Johnson, 19. Via Chicago Police Department

By Steve Neavling

A Chicago man was charged Friday with attempted murder and other counts for allegedly shooting a U.S. marshal and his K-9 dog. 

Tarrion Johnson, 19, was denied bond on Saturday, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Johnson is accused of firing shots at members of the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force while they tried to arrest him on a warrant for attempted murder on Thursday afternoon.

The marshal had been shot in the hand and declined hospital service. 

The K-9 was taken to the MedVet Chicago clinic in unknown condition. 

The judge ordered Johnson to be held without bond, saying he posed a threat to the public. 

CBP Supervisor Charged with Stealing Money in Alleged Overtime Scheme

By Steve Neavling

A CBP supervisor accused of falsifying hours on his timesheet has been charged with stealing money from the U.S. government. 

Alfonso Gonzalez, 45, of Laredo, was arrested Friday after a federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment. 

Between September 2020 and September 2021, Gonzalez allegedly recorded night and weekend hours on his timesheet that he didn’t work. On several occasions, he was in Mexico when he indicated on his timesheet that he was working. 

In addition, he’s accused of fabricating excuses to justify his overtime hours. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges he stole nearly $6,500. 

If convicted, he faces up to 10 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine. 

The investigation was conducted by the Office of Professional Responsibility.