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N.J. Gov. Christie Loads Up Administration With Former Fed Prosecutors

Christopher Christie/campaign photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Assistant U.S. Attorneys seem to have found a new home with New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie.

The Asbury Press reports that Christie, who was the U.S. Attorney in Newark from from 2002 though 2008, has appointed more than two dozen former federal prosecutors to his administration or State Superior Court. Nearly 20 worked directly for him.

Montclair State University political scientist Brigid Harrison told the Asbury Press that the move gives the image that the Christie administration is for clean government.

“The most obvious advantage is that there is a public perception that prosecutors are squeaky clean. And in a state with a reputation for corruption like New Jersey has, that offers voters and Gov. Christie a certain degree of credibility and legitimacy that comes automatically,” Harrison told the paper.

To read more click here.

New Head of Denver FBI Has Colorful, Global Experience

James Yacone/fbi photo

By Felisa Cardona
Denver Post

DENVER — James F. Yacone is a decorated combat veteran, an accomplished criminal investigator and a graduate of West Point, but he doesn’t like to brag.

The walls in his office at the Denver FBI are nearly bare, with just a sampling of photographs from his military service overseas despite his many awards and accolades.

“I am just an ordinary person put in extraordinary circumstances,” he said.

Yacone, 45, took over as special agent in charge of the Denver FBI in April after the retirement of James Davis, who went on to head the Colorado Department of Public Safety.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Weekend Series on Crime History: Robert Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover and the Mob

3 Somali Pirates Plead Guilty in Hijacking of Ship That Resulted in 4 American Deaths


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Three Somali pirates pled guilty Friday in federal court in Norfolk, Va., to leading the group that hijacked the S/V Quest in the Indian Ocean,  which resulted in the death of four American crew members in February.

“These men have admitted to pirating an American yacht and holding four U.S. citizens hostage at gunpoint for ransom. Tragically, their piracy led to the execution of the four American hostages,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride. “Piracy is big business in Somalia, and today pirates got another reminder of the tremendous cost of participating in this criminal venture. If you pirate an American ship, you will be caught and you’ll face severe consequences in an American courtroom.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk added in a statement: “Today’s pleas are a crucial step in the judicial process. Mohamud Hirs Issa Ali and Mohamud Salad Ali, the leaders of these violent pirates, were armed hijackers who directed their subordinates to take hostages and seize the Quest, resulting in the death of four innocent Americans. Modern piracy isn’t swordplay and derring-do; it’s armed robbery and cold-blooded murder at sea.”

Congressional Leaders Extend Key Provisions in Patriot Act to Help FBI

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Congressional leaders breathed new life into the U.S. Patriot Act and a related law, and agreed Thursday to extend by four years several statutes that have give the FBI expanded surveillance powers, the New York Times reported.

The Times reported that the agreement “allows investigators to get “roving wiretap” court orders allowing them to follow terrorism suspects who switch phone numbers or providers; to get orders allowing them to seize “any tangible things” relevant to a security investigation, like a business’s customer records; and to get national-security wiretap orders against noncitizen suspects who are not believed to be connected to any foreign power.”

To read more click here.

A First: Ark. Man Convicted at Trial Under Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crime Law


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors in Arkansas convicted a man Thursday of hate crimes, the first time a conviction was won at trial for violations of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was enacted in October 2009, the Justice Department said.

Frankie Maybee, 20, of Green Forest, Ark., was convicted of five counts of committing a federal hate crime and one count of conspiring to commit a federal hate crime. Co-defendant Sean Popejoy, 19, of Green Forest, pleaded guilty in the case guilty in the case on Monday.

Authorities charged that Maybee and Popejoy last June threatened and injured five Hispanic men. The men  pursued the victims in a truck, and when they caught up,  Popejoy leaned outside of the front passenger window and waived a tire wrench at the victims, and continued to threaten and hurl racial epithets at the victims, authorities said.

Maybee, driving his truck, rammed into the victims’ car repeatedly, which caused the victims’ car to cross the opposite lane of traffic, go off the road, crash into a tree and ignite, authorities said. As a result, the victims were injured.

“The defendants targeted five men because they were Hispanic, and today’s verdict shows that the Justice Department is committed to vigorously prosecuting individuals who perform acts of hate because of someone’s race or national origin,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

“We will continue to use the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and every other tool in our law enforcement arsenal, to identify and prosecute hate crimes whenever they occur.”

DEA Seizes Weapons from ATF’s Controversial “Operation Fast and Furious”


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Authorities may soon want to rename ATF’s controversial “Operation Fast and Furious” gun program “Operation Very Big Headache.”

The latest: CBS reports that DEA agents recently confiscated a stash of assault rifles in the Phoenix area linked to the operation, which encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers — all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. CBS reported that sources said they believed the suspects intended to take the guns to Mexico.

CBS, citing unnamed sources, reported that  DEA agents stopped two suspects on  April 13   and found two giant garbage cans full of dozens of AK-47 type weapons wrapped in cellophane. A trace of the first weapon found that a suspect in the “Fast and Furious” case purchased it in Nov. 2009, CBS reported.

Station KPHO reported that DEA has refused to give up the weapons to ATF. An ATF spokesman told the station the agencies are cooperating.

To read more click here.

Book Review: Author Chronicles FBI Battle Against Terrorism Over the Decades


By Joshua Sinai
The Washington Times

Now that an elite American special-operations unit has ended the life of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda’s charismatic leader and founder, the world’s most lethal and geographically dispersed terrorist organization is entering a new, uncertain direction.

Although this momentous event occurred after the publication of Garrett M. Graff’s important book “The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War in the Age of Global Terror,” we can be certain of one fact that runs through its pages: Our nation’s counterterrorism capability is sound and robust, exemplified domestically, although with an increasing overseas presence, by the nation’s top law enforcement agency, the FBI.

“The Threat Matrix” – the name of the daily compilation of actual or rumored threats to the American homeland and Americans overseas – is a prodigious volume, covering the FBI’s involvement in counterterrorism over the past 90 years. Mr. Graff, the editor of Washingtonian magazine, spent more than two years researching the FBI, including interviewing hundreds of people associated with the agency, such as Director Robert Mueller and current and former top officials and special agents, many of whom are discussed in the book.

To read more click here.