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Feds Won’t Charge Son of Late Sen. Ted Stevens

Sen. Ben Stevens

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Stevens family has had its share of legal luck.

The latest: The Anchorage Daily News reports that ex-Alaska state Senate President Ben Stevens, son of the late Sen. Ted Stevens, won’t be prosecuted in what the paper described as  a “rapidly fading Alaska political corruption investigation.”

The paper reported that family friends of Stevens said he recently received a letter from fed prosecutors saying he won’t face charges. The paper reported that a “government source” confirmed that the letter had been sent.

The paper reported that the FBI raided Steven’s office in 2006 along with five other state lawmakers. Four were convicted.

Steven’s father, the late Sen. Ted Stevens, was convicted of public corruption charges in 2008. However, a fed judge, at the request of the Justice Department, vacated the conviction because of prosecutorial misconduct. Prosecutors failed to turn over materials to the defense team.

To read the full story click here.

Secret Service Leaves Little to Chance When the Prez Stops in for Lunch

Pres. Obama eats with advisors at another D.C. eatery earlier this month/white house photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

When you’re President and you just happened to drop by a little lunch spot for a bite to eat, the Secret Service leaves little to chance.

The website TMZ reports that the Secret Service on Wednesday swept through Ted’s Bulletin restaurant on 8th Street SE on Capitol Hill  in D.C. with a K-9 unit  before President Obama stopped in and surprised a group of campaign volunteers.

The website reported that the restaurant was closed to the public.

By the way, the website reported that the President ordered up a plain cheeseburger, fries, and side salad and washed it down with water.

He then picked up the tab for the group and paid for the $200-plus lunch with a credit card.

In the photo above, the President was eating with advisors at the Good Stuff Eatery on Pennsylvania Avenue SE on Capitol Hill  on Aug. 3.

Fla. Completes Ted Bundy DNA Profile for FBI Data Base

Ted Bundy /fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Serial killer Ted Bundy’s DNA profile was uploaded to the FBI’s DNA data base on Friday, opening the way for police investigators around the country to see if Bundy was responsible for any other murders, the New York Times reported.

Bundy, who was executed in Florida in 1989, confessed to 30 murders, but hinted there were more, the Times reported.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement assembled a complete profile of Bundy recently after extracting DNA from a vial that had been stored in the court house for three decades, the Times reported. Up until now, no complete DNA profile had been available.

David Coffman, chief of forensics at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, said his department began searching for enough DNA to create a profile after being contacted by the police in Tacoma, Wash., this year, the Times reported.

Authorities in Tacoma are hoping to solve the case of Ann Marie Burr, an 8-year-old girl who disappeared from her house in 1961, Times reported. Bundy was 14 at the time.

Coffman told the Times he receives four or five calls a year from investigators inquiring about Bundy’s DNA in connection with unsolved cases.

Ill. FBI Agent Pleads to Lying About Whereabouts of $43,643

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Where’s the money? That’s what authorities still would like to know.

FBI Agent Jerry Nau, 44, of Peoria, Ill. pleaded guilty Wednesday in Urbana, Ill.  to lying about the whereabouts of $43,643 seized during a drug investigation in November 2008 by a multi-county task force he was part of, according to the Peoria Journal Star. He is currently on unpaid leave.

The paper reported that Nau didn’t admit to taking the money, and said he didn’t know where the money went.

The plea agreement stated that Nau was to bring back the cash from the task force to the FBI evidence vault. After the conviction in the drug case in 2009, FBI agents looked for the money but couldn’t find it.

On June 30, 2010, Nau falsely told his superiors the money was in the task force evidence vault and faxed to the FBI’s Springfield office a receipt showing it was there, the Journal Star reported.

He then lied when he said two officers came with him and saw the cash. He also told Justice Dept. officials that he had brought the money back to the FBI Peoria office, but failed to log it properly, the paper reported. He said he then checked the vault and saw the money was missing.

The paper reported that his agreement says he “panicked” when he didn’t know where the money was and “he simply hoped the money would turn up.” He denied taking any money.

“The United States believes it is very serious when a federal law enforcement officer makes a false statement regarding evidence in a federal criminal case,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney James Warden from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Indiana’s Southern District, according to the paper. The Indiana office handled the prosecution. “When asked to produce it, he failed to do so, was unable to do so and then made false statements about the status of the money.

“Where that money is now, only Mr. Nau and God know and he (Nau) isn’t saying other than he has misplaced it.”

Sentencing is set for Nov. 29 in Peoria. He faces up to five years in prison.

His attorney Jeff Flanagan did not return a call to the Star Journal for comment.

FBI Searches For Person Who Put Homemade Bomb at Oklahoma Gas Line

Column: Did Washington Not Understand ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious?

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

After talking to some folks and watching the latest Congressional hearings on ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious, I’m beginning to think the Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley aren’t going to find what they’re looking for — that is:

Who at the Justice Department gave the Ok for the operation — at least knowingly? The two politicians have been hammering away at that, trying to find out the answer during Congressional inquiries.

The reason I say that is because the sense I’m getting — and granted I could be wrong —  is that William Newell, head of the ATF Phoenix division during the operation, was briefing folks on Operation Fast and Furious directly or indirectly at the Justice Department and the White House.

Problem was, those folks didn’t really understand the full scope of the operation. And consequently, Newell figured he had the full blessing of Washington, when in fact, Washington didn’t understand fully what it was blessing him with.

For those of you who haven’t been following it closely, the operation encouraged gun dealers in Arizona to sell to straw purchasers or middlemen, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of some guns, and some surfaced at crimes scenes on both side of the the border.

So in the end, the real question, perhaps to be answered, isn’t who blessed the operation in Washington, but rather why folks in Washington didn’t understand what Operation Fast and Furious was all about.

I’m just sayin.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

D.C. Judge Orders Sprint to Pay Terrorism Victims’ Families $610,000

Judge Lamberth/court photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

U.S. District Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of D.C. is trying to deliver justice on the world stage in the terrorism arena.

The Blog of the Legal Times reports that Lamberth on Wednesday ordered Sprint Nextel Corp., to pay more than $610,000 it owes to an Iranian state telecommunications agency directly to the families of victims of a 1996 terrorist bombing in Saudi Arabia.

The legal blog reported that the families, plaintiffs have been trying without any success to collect a more than $591 million default judgment since 2006.

The legal blog reported that Sprint had objected. But Lamberth made the ruling based on a 2008 law that allows victims to seize cash destined for a country or state-owned agency in a terrorism case.

Read order

ATF Agents See Director’s Departure as a “Fresh Start”

Ken Melson/atf photo

 By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Many ATF agents on Tuesday welcomed the news that acting Director Ken Melson was stepping down, saying his departure marked a step in the right direction in trying to revive a demoralized agency.

 

“I think everyone knew this was coming,” said one veteran ATF agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s a fresh start. That’s the general sentiment.”

 

Melson’s departure seemed to break the paralysis that the department seemed to be in after taking regular beatings in the media and on Capitol Hill over “Operation Fast and Furious”, an ATF program out of Arizona that encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers or middlemen, all with the hopes of tracking the guns to the Mexican Cartels.

 

Melson was never going to become the permanent director. The White House nominee for the spot, Andrew Traver, who heads up Chicago’s ATF, had problems getting confirmed. So Melson remaining in that spot only accentuated how problematic things had become and how politically weak ATF was.

 

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) led the charge, and began investigating the Fast and Furious program. Melson remained silent during most the controversy, which angered some within ATF. Melson eventually spoke to Congressional investigators and complained that the Justice Department had muzzled him and prevented him from even explaining to his troops what was going on with Fast and Furious.

 

Tuesday’s announcement gave hope to agents, including one who said morale was the lowest it had ever been — even lower than in the wake of Waco.

 

“There is cautious optimism,” said the agent. “We can move forward. ”

 

The agent said he had heard good things about the new acting director , B. Todd Jones, the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota.

 

“I’m hearing positive things about him,” he said. “He’s pro-ATF.”

 

The agent added that Melson stepping down was a good start, but “more needs to be done.”

 

Another agent called Melson’s departure “bitter-sweet”, saying “he’s a very personable individual, a good leader.”

 

“But I can only look forward,” the agent said.

 

Interestingly, Melson will return to the Justice Department where he once headed up the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country. In recent times, during the Fast and Furious operation, he seemed to develop a distrust for the Justice Department, according to one source.

 

Melson will head over to Justice as a Senior Advisor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy (OLP) where he will specialize in forensic science policy issues at the Department of Justice

Melson had complained to Congressional investigators that he had been muzzled by the Justice Department and kept from communicating to the troops about the Fast and Furious controversy.

According to his testimony provided to investigators and released by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Melson said:

“Part of the problem, and one of the things that infuriated me was that I have not been allowed to communicate to the troops about anything. So, for example, earlier on, I wanted to do a broadcast that just talked about the case because everybody was wondering what’s this case about? What are you doing at headquarters?

“How come you were not issuing press releases and how come you were not ordering press conference ad pushing back and things like that? And I was told not do do that. Then after we wanted to do several things to talk to our people about what this case was about, what it wasn’t about, and you know, where were were going and the fact that we were cooperating as much as we could with the committee and with the Department, but we were restrained from doing that.”