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ATF Changes Policy, Gun Control Advocates Unhappy

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The ATF is loosening restrictions on the sale of guns to noncitizens, reports the New York Times.

Justice Department lawyers have decided that a rule requiring noncitizens to document that they have lived in a state for at least 90 days has no legal basis, according to a letter sent to firearms dealers on Thursday, reports the Times.

Citizens also must generally be residents in the states they purchase firearms in, but the 90-day rule does not apply to them.

“Once the regulations have been revised, both U.S. citizens and aliens legally present in the U.S. will be subject to the same requirements for state residency and proof of residency,” the A.T.F. said in the letter.

Gun control advocates such as Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, had immediate criticism of the move. The change in law “defies common sense and puts Americans at risk” by making it easier for foreign terrorists to buy guns in the US, said Lautenberg, the Times reported.

To read more click here.

Feds Hand Out Seized Money to Local Law Enforcement

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It was more than just a stocking stuffer. Federal agents gave more than $1.2 million in confiscated drug money to five police agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

The money came from a former medical marijuana dispensary in the area. DEA and IRS agents announced the holiday gift from the US Department of Treasury Asset Forfeiture Fund from a federal building in Oakland, Calif.

“This is a true holiday gift,” said Hayward Police Chief Diane Urban, according to the paper. Her department received the largest payment, nearly $475,000.

“The assets forfeiture program is one of the federal government’s most effective tools against drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime,” said Scott O’Briant, IRS-Criminal Investigations Special Agent in Charge, according to the paper. “The program disrupts and dismantles criminal enterprises by seizing their assets” and then distributes those resources to local law enforcement to help fight crime.

To read more click here.

 

 

FBI Suspects “Geezer Bandit” Ain’t Such a Geezer: Looking for Customers Who Bought Elderly Mask

fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Dumfounded by the success of the “Geezer Bandit” — a prolific bank robber who appears to be in his 70s — the FBI in Southern California  is now aggressively pursuing the theory that he is actually a younger man who has donned a mask while sticking up 16 banks in the San Diego area since August 2009.

The LA Times reports that investigators in the case have served a search warrant at a costume store in the San Luis Obispo area. The warrant asks for a list of customers who bought a mask known as “The Elder.”

After the last robbery on Dec. 2 in San Luis Obispo, Calif., the FBI issued a statement, according to the paper, stating:

“The robber was described as someone who appeared to be an elderly white male, but may have been wearing a synthetic-like mask and gloves to conceal his true physical characteristics.”

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Countrywide Financial Agrees to Pay $335 Million Settlement to Resolve Allegations of Lending Discrimination

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Mass. Man Sentenced for Economic Espionage for Israel

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Elliot Doxer has become Massachusetts’ first ever individual prosecuted for foreign economic espionage, according to a statement from the FBI.

Doxer was sentenced to six months in prison and six months of home confinement and electronic monitoring on Tuesday, as well as fined $25,000, after providing trade secrets to an undercover agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer. Doxer  had previously plead guilty.

Doxer sent an e-mail to the folks at the  Boston’s Israeli Consulate in June of 2006 telling them he worked for the company Akamai Technologies, Inc., in the finance department, and wanted to provide whatever information he could “to help our homeland and our war against our enemies,” according to the statement. Doxer also asked to be paid for the risks he was taking.

A federal agents posing as an Israeli intelligence officer spoke to Doxer in Sept, 2007, establishing a “dead drop” where the two could exchange information. Doxer visited the dead drop at least 62 times between Oct. 2007 and March 2009, leaving information and checking for new communications.

Doxer provided the undercover agent with a list of the company’s customers, contracts with those customers, a full list of the company’s employees, with positions and contact information, and a broad description of the company’s physical and computer security systems. He also said he could travel to Israel or support special operations at home.

“We acknowledge the Government of Israel for their cooperation in this investigation, and underscore that the Information does not allege that the government of Israel or anyone acting on its behalf committed any offense under U.S. laws in this case,” said the FBI statement.

 

Fed Agents Misbehavin in 2011

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Every day, thousands of federal law enforcement agents wake up, grab their gun and badge and a cup of java, orange juice or tea and go out into the world to protect the public and enforce the laws.

Unfortunately, every year, a few step over the line — way over the line — and break the law.

As the year draws to an end,  ticklethewire.com takes a look at some of the more interesting cases of Feds Misbehavin.

 

Unmitigated Disaster: FBI agent Adrian Johnson, a six-year veteran of bureau, had a little too much booze last Feb. 7. While driving in Prince George’s County, just outside D.C., he drove his 2002 Mitsubishi Montero into oncoming traffic and crashed into 18-year-old Lawrence Garner Jr.’s Hyundai Sonata. Garner died and a passenger in the car was critically injured but survived.

Johnson lost his job and in August a county grand jury indicted him on charges including motor vehicle manslaughter, homicide by motor vehicle, driving under the influence and reckless driving.  Johnson had just moved to the D.C. area to protect the  U.S. attorney general. The end of a life, the end of a career.

Lying for a Lover: Love or lust can do some people in. Just ask FBI agent Adrian Busby.

On Nov. 1, a fed jury in Manhattan federal court convicted the 37-year-old of lying to protect a married female confidential source he was having an affair with. It all began in 2008 when Busby, who was investigating mortgage fraud, started using a female real estate loan officer as a confidential source. He also began having an affair with her.

On Feb. 5, 2008, the source was arrested and subsequently prosecuted by the Queens County District Attorney’s Office for identity theft and related charges. Authorities charged that Busby “actively assisted with her criminal defense, met with her attorneys on multiple occasions, and during trial “provided her defense attorney with confidential, law enforcement reports…related to her case….in violation of FBI regulations.” Fed authorities said he then lied to them about the things he did to help the woman.

Say What? This one is just so wildly crazy for so many reasons.  Anthony  V. Mangione, 50, who headed up South Florida’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was indicted in September on child porn charges. Ironic? Let us count the ways. First off, ICE has been very active in busting purveyors of child porn. Secondly, how could a guy in the know like Mangione get caught knowing what he knows about how law enforcement operates?

Not the Crime of the Century: DEA Agent Brian Snedeker  was charged in Virginia in October with hunting ducks in a “baited area” and exceeding the daily limit of ducks, according to Field & Stream magazine, which wrote: “OK, someone’s gotta ask the question: what illegal substance was this DEA agent under the influence when he decided to shoot many ducks, and in a baited area to boot?” Apparently, among the Field & Stream crowd,  Snedeker is one bad dude.

Just Plain Crooked: ATF agent Brandon McFadden admitted he stole drugs and money from crime scenes with several Tulsa police officers. He was arrested in April 2010 and was sentenced this December to 21 months in prison. He would have gotten a lot more had he not cooperated with authorities. Nice way to end a career.

Career Up in Smoke: Clifford Dean Posey, an ATF agent form Virginia gets an A for enterprise and big D for plain Dumb. The 43-year-old was sentenced in September in Richmond, Va., to three years and one month in prison for stealing guns and cigarettes from ATF and selling them.

The Cost of a Big Fat Lie: It’s one thing to have an affair with a fellow law enforcement agent. It’s another to lie about it. Keith Phillips, a former special agent with the Environmental Protection Agency criminal division in the Dallas division, learned that the hard way. In October, he pleaded guilty to lying in a civil case about having an affair with an FBI agent he was working with.

Phillips, 61, of Kent, Tex., and a female FBI agent investigated a criminal case from September 1996 to Dec. 14, 1999 that resulted in the indictment of Hubert Vidrine Jr. and several others. The criminal charges against Vidrine were ultimately dismissed, and Vidrine turned around and filed a lawsuit against the federal government for malicious prosecution, authorities said.

That’s when trouble stepped into the picture. Authorities said that during a deposition taken in Vidrine’s civil suit, agent Phillips allegedly falsely testified that he did not have an affair with the FBI special agent, when, in fact, he did.

Very Fishy: There are certain times when things just look too fishy. This is one of those times. FBI Agent Jerry Nau of Peoria, Ill., lied to investigators  about $43,643 in cash that went missing from a drug bust. He  also forged signatures of fellow agents on evidence sheets to hide the fact the money was AWOL.

In November, he was taken into custody and sentenced to five months in prison. Nau told investigators he panicked when he was unable to find the money before the trial and hoped it would “turn up” on its own, the Chicago Tribune reported. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Warden said at the time, according to the Chicago Tribune: “Would you walk away and say, ‘I hope it comes back some day?’No, you would start screaming at your colleagues and say … ‘Let’s go find (the money).

“What happened is he stole the money,” Warden said.

Vigilante Justice: Border Patrol Agents Dario Castillo, 23, and Ramon Zuniga, 29, must have figured it wasn’t worth bothering the justice system. So the two  took matters into their own hands by allegedly forcing four Mexican nationals, who were illegals and were suspected of marijuana smuggling, to eat marijuana and strip off their clothing and shoes. They then set the belongings on fire and forced them to flee into 40-degree desert in southern Arizona.

The incident happened in 2008, but the two were indicted in August in Tucson by a federal grand jury.

Investigators in WikiLeaks Case Targeted by Groups Online

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Investigators in the prosecution of Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking top secret documents to WikiLeaks,  may face a backlash from activist hackers online, reports NextGov.com.

Gregg Housh,  an Internet activist who follows the pro-WikiLeaks hacking collective known as “Anonymous”, said there is talk in the chat rooms of  retaliating against people involved in the prosecution of Manning, who is currently sitting in on a military pretrial hearing to determine whether he should face a court martial.

Housh said the talk in particular is focused in on retaliating against a government-hired forensics specialist and an investigator from the Army .

“Both are being talked about pretty heavily as possibly problems that need to be dealt with,” said Housh, according to NextGov.

To read more click here.

Column: Republican Campaign Against Atty. Gen. Holder Ends Up Being Just Another Exercise in Partisan Politics

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Partisan politics inside the Beltway has been around forever. That’s a given. Unfortunately, these days it has reached such ridiculous heights.

That being said, if the Republicans had been serious at all about pressuring Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. to resign, they would have been a little smarter and tried to get some Democrats on board.

Allan Lengel

Instead, it ends up looking like another Republican opportunity to bash the Obama administration and its Justice Department.

So far, more than 60 members of Congress, along with two presidential hopefuls,  have called for Holder to resign. Not one is a Democrat.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the Republicans’ campaign is even legitimate. Sure, Eric Holder should take some blame for the disastrous Operation Fast and Furious, but I don’t think there’s any evidence so far that he intentionally misled Congress as some are saying.  Simply put: Having no Dems on their side hurts the cause.

In the end, the attack-Holder campaign by the Republicans ends up being just another ugly exercise in partisan politics.