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Judge Metes Out Harsh Sentence in Synagogue Bombing Plot; Sharply Criticizes Govt. in Sting

istock photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The sentence on Wednesday was harsh in the bombing plot of Bronx synagogues, but was so the lambasting the federal judge gave the federal government in its sting.

U.S.  District Judge Colleen McMahon sentenced  James Cromitie, 45, David Williams, 30, and Onta Williams, 35, to 25 years in prison in a Manhattan federal court.

But she also sharply criticized the government, saying, according to the New York Daily News:

“The essence of what occurred here is that a government understandably zealous to protect its citizens from terrorism came upon a man both bigoted and suggestible, one who was incapable of committing an act of terrorism on his own,” McMahon said, referring to Cromitie.

“It created acts of terrorism out of his fantasies of bravado and bigotry, and then made those fantasies come true,” she added.

The Daily News reported that the judge said  unlike other domestic terror cases, “the government did not have to infiltrate and foil some nefarious plot – there was no nefarious plot to foil.”

Then she took aim at the defendants.

“You were not political or religious martyrs,” the judge said. “You were thugs for hire, pure and simple.”

In May 2009, the FBI charged the trio after they left bombs in front of the Riverdale Jewish Center and the Riverdale Temple. The bomb, which ended up being fake, were provided by an FBI informant.

The Daily News reported that the informant lured Cromite into the plot with money.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI and Others Probing Possible Shenanigans at Arlington Cemetary

gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The  FBI and other federal agencies  have launched a probe into one of the nation’s treasures –Arlington National Cemetary.

The Washington Post reports that authorities are looking into possible contracting fraud and falsification of records. The paper cited “eople familiar with the investigation.”

A federal grand jury in Alexandria is looking into the matter in a probe being investigated by the FBI, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command and Justice Department, the Post reported, adding that the investigation has been underway for at least six months.

The Post reported that a report by the  Army inspector general found:: a dysfunctional management system; millions wasted on information technology contracts that produced useless results; misplaced and misidentified remains; and at least four cases in which crematory urns had been dug up and dumped in a dirt pile.

To read full story click here.

Finally:Pres. Obama Nominates 4 to Fill U.S. Attorney Spots in Texas

John Malcolm Bales/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Better late than never.

After taking criticism for taking so long, President Obama on Tuesday nominated people to fill the four U.S. Attorney spots in Texas.

The White House nominated Kenneth Magidson for the southern district, Sarah Ruth Saldaña for the northern district, Robert Lee Pitman for the western distirct and John Malcolm Bales for the eastern district.

The following is bios as written in a  White House Press release:

Malcolm Bales is the interim United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, a position he has held since 2009. Over the course of his career, Mr. Bales served within the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas as the Chief and Deputy Criminal Chief for the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (2009; 1992-1995), Assistant U.S. Attorney for Special Prosecutions (2006-2008), Chief of the Criminal Division (2003-2006), Attorney-in-Charge (1995-2003), and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (1989-1992). Mr. Bales also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado in 1995. From 1982 to 1989, Mr. Bales was a Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Bales was an attorney for Hancock, Piedfor, Galton, McGill from 1981 to 1982. Mr. Bales graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1977 and the University of Texas School of Law in 1980.

Read more »

Fed Judge Explains Why He Gave Bernie Madoff 150 Years

Bernie Madoff

 
 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Manhattan federal  judge who sentenced swindler Bernie Madoff has told the New York Times that he weighed different factors before handing out a 150 year sentence.

Madoff’s lawyer  Ira Lee Sorkin had tried to convince U.S. District Judge Denny Chin,57, to give a far lesser sentence. He cited, according to the Times, Madoff’s move to tell his sons, knowing he’d be turned in. And he argued that Madoff, who was then 71, would live about 13 years. So he asked for 12 “just short of an effective life sentence.” The Times reported that Sorkin also proposed 15 to 20 years.

“It’s a fair argument that you want to give someone some possibility of seeing the light of day,” the judge told the Times, “so that they have some hope, and something to live for.”

He said he immediately rejected a 12 year sentence, but struggled with the idea of dishing out 20 to 25  years before ultimately concluding:

“In the end, I just thought he didn’t deserve it,” he told the Times. “The benefits of giving him hope were far outweighed by all of the other considerations.”

The Times also interviewed Madoff, who commented on the sentence.

“Explain to me who else has received a sentence like that,” Madoff said in a phone interview with the Times from prison in  North Carolina. “I mean, serial killers get a death sentence, but that’s virtually what he gave me.”

“I’m surprised Chin didn’t suggest stoning in the public square,” he added.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

NY Times Editorial: “High Time” FBI Set Up Independent Oversight of Informant Program

Judge Mark Wolf

By The New York Times
Editorial Page

For anyone trying to fathom James (Whitey) Bulger’s long, pathological career on both sides of the law, a 661-page opinion by Mark Wolf, chief judge of the Federal District Court in Massachusetts, tells the inside story.

In 1998, the judge held a 10-month hearing on the F.B.I.’s failure to tell the United States attorney in Boston that Mr. Bulger and Stephen (the Rifleman) Flemmi were their informants against organized crime.

The judge uncovered that John Connolly Jr., the F.B.I. agent who was their handler, had protected Mr. Bulger, a 15-year informant, and Mr. Flemmi, a 25-year informant, as they committed murder and conspired with the Mafia, in exchange for leads about the Mafia. It was Mr. Connolly who tipped off Mr. Bulger that he was about to be indicted and sent him on the lam. Judge Wolf testified against the F.B.I. agent at a 2002 trial before another judge. Mr. Connolly was sentenced to 10 years for racketeering, obstruction of justice and making false statements to investigators.

From his investigation, Judge Wolf also concluded that the government couldn’t use crucial evidence against Mr. Flemmi that it had gathered through wiretaps against other mobsters because it had granted him partial immunity. The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Boston, overturned that part of the judge’s ruling, holding that only prosecutors and not the F.B.I. could grant immunity.

To read more click here.

Rep. Issa and the Latest on ATF’s Fast and Furious Operation

Sen. Confirms Dep. Atty. Gen. James Cole and 2 Others

James Cole/law firm

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Senate on Tuesday delivered the long awaited confirmation of Deputy Attorney Gen. James Cole.

By a vote of 55-42, the Senate confirmed Cole, 59, who had been nominated by the White House more than a year ago. But he bumped up against Republican opposition, so President Obama ended up giving him a recess appointment in December.

The Senate on Tuesday also confirmed Lisa Monaco, as Assistant Attorney General for National Security and Virginia Seitz, as Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel.

“I am pleased the Senate moved to confirm Jim, Lisa and Virginia, following their appointments by President Obama,” Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said in a statement. “I’m confident they will provide invaluable leadership to the department, and will play a critical role in protecting the American people, ensuring the fairness and integrity of our financial markets and restoring the traditional missions of the department.”

Cole  first joined the department in 1979 as part of Attorney General’s Honors Program and served there for 13 years – first as a trial attorney in the Criminal Division, and later as the Deputy Chief of the Division’s Public Integrity Section.

He entered private practice in 1992, and became a partner with Bryan Cave LLP in 1995, specializing in white collar defense.

In 2005, he was  appointed as an independent monitor at the insurance company AIG to review five years of transactions following a settlement with regulators involving allegations the company was setting up sham transactions to hide losses.

In 2006, he was charged with developing financial reporting and regulatory compliance programs at AIG.

Column: Could Blago Verdict Put U.S. Atty. Fitzgerald Back in Running for FBI Director?

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s not that Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has to worry about his career.

But on Monday, he got some redemption when a federal jury convicted the ever-too chatty ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich on 17 of 20 public corruption charges.

It was the second trial. The first had a rather embarrassing outcome. The jury convicted Blago on only 1 of 24 counts, and that was for lying  to the FBI, a charge that was not really central to the meat of the case.

What made matters worse, before the first trial, Fitzgerald held a press conference after arresting Blago in December 2008 and displayed a lot of swagger. Some thought he was a little over the top.

Could this redemption help Fitzgerald’s chances of becoming the next FBI director when the job comes up in a couple years?

Possibly.

Patrick Fitzgerald/doj photo

He fits the bill. The White House tends to prefer someone with a law degree like the current director Robert S. Mueller III, who is expected to get a two-year extension on his 10-year term.

Before the White House decided to propose a two year extension for Mueller, it began looking for his replacement.

Initially, Fitzgerald’s was one of the names most often heard inside the Beltway.

But his swagger at the press conference and the dismal verdict seemed to sour some people.  His name seemed to fade.

With the latest results in the Blago case, who knows?

Maybe he’ll be back in the race for the FBI director job.

Whatever the case, at least he was able to finally back up the swagger he showed back at the press conference.