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Fla. Man Pleads Guilty to Impersonating an FBI Agent

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s never a good idea. Daniel F. Cleary, 48, of Weston, Fla. knows that now.

Clearly pleaded guilty last Friday in federal court in Southern Florida to impersonating an FBI agent, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Authorities said it all began on Jan. 13 of this year when Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a call regarding property damage at a home in Weston, Fla.

When the deputies arrived at Cleary’s residence, Cleary identified himself as a Special Agent with the FBI and displayed counterfeit FBI credentials bearing his name and photograph.

He also had a Glock Model 17 9mm semi-automatic pistol. He faces up to three years in prison.

Washington Post Editorial Edorses 2 Ex-Justice Dept. Lawyers — Ken Wainstein and James Comey– to be Next FBI Director

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A Washington Post editorial on Tuesday praised FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and endorsed two people who have been mentioned as possible replacements when Mueller’s 10-year term expires in September.

Kenneth Wainstein

The Post said the White House should seriously consider as replacements former deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, who worked under President George W. Bush, and Kenneth Wainstein, a former D.C. U.S. Attorney, who also worked as first chief of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The editorial mentions that Comey and Mueller were among those who protested the the Bush administration’s policies regarding its terrorist surveillance program.

The Post wrote: “Mr. Mueller was joined in that protest by then-Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, who is said to be under consideration for the director’s slot. It was Mr. Comey, who spent years as a federal prosecutor in New York and Virginia, who first rebuffed White House attempts to skirt the surveillance issues. This kind of backbone in the face of enormous political pressure speaks well of Mr. Comey’s prospects for keeping the bureau above the political fray should he get the nod.”

As for Wainstein, the editorial stated:

“The administration is also wise to consider Kenneth L. Wainstein, who is perhaps the candidate most closely associated with Mr. Mueller. Mr. Wainstein, a respected veteran federal prosecutor, has the most wide-ranging national security experience — an important characteristic for any director. Mr. Wainstein worked at the FBI under Mr. Mueller, first as general counsel and later as the director’s chief of staff. He became U.S. attorney in the District and fully burnished his national security credentials as the first chief of the Justice Department’s National Security Division and as President George W. Bush’s homeland security adviser.”

Read editorial

Number 2 at Justice Dept. James Cole Remains in Limbo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Deputy Attorney Gen. James Cole never played in the National Football League — but he certainly knows what it’s like to be a football — a political one at that.

David A. Fahrenthold of the Washington Post reports that the Republicans in the Senate on Monday voted to block a bid by Democrats to force a final vote on Cole’s confirmation, leaving his status as the number 2 person in the Justice Department in limbo.

President Obama gave Cole a recess appointment, which expires at the end of the year.

The Post reported that the Dems on Monday fell short of the 60 votes needed to knock down a Republican filibuster vote on the matter.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said, according to a statement posted on his website: ” It is hard to believe that one week after the successful operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the world’s number one terrorist, we cannot take this step to ensure that President Obama has his full national security team in place. Now that a measure of justice has been secured for the victims of September 11, I have expressed hope that we can come together as we did in the weeks and months following September 11.”

James Cole/law firm

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia) who strongly opposed the nomination, said:

“In particular, I’m seriously concerned about Mr. Cole’s views on national security and terrorism. Back in 2002, Mr. Cole was the author of an opinion piece in the Legal Times. In that piece, he stated, ‘For all the rhetoric about war, the Sept. 11 attacks were criminal acts of terrorism against a civilian population, much like the terrorist acts of Timothy McVeigh in blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City, or of Omar Abdel-Rahman in the first effort to blow up the World Trade Center. The criminals responsible for these horrible acts were successfully tried and convicted under our criminal justice system, without the need for special procedures that altered traditional due process rights.’”

ATF Agent Jay Dobyns Rips ATF About “Fast and Furious” and His Problems With the Agency

“Talib Islam” Gets 28 Years in FBI Sting After Trying to Blow Up Fed Courthouse in Ill.


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A man nicknamed the “Talib Islam” was sentenced to 28 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to attempting to bomb the federal courthouse in Springfield, Ill., in September 2009, authorities said.

Michael C. Finton, 31, a U.S. citizen from Decatur, Ill., was busted in an FBI sting. He was sentenced in East St. Louis, Ill., federal court.

According to the plea agreement and court documents, Finton met on several occasions with someone  he thought was linked to al Qaeda, when in fact the person was an undercover FBI agent.

During a meeting on July 29, 2009, Finton proposed targeting the federal building in Springfield and using two vehicles: the first to do the initial damage, and the second to attack the responders, authorities said.

Finton also suggested that if the bomb was big enough it might also “take out” the office of the congressman across the street from the federal building, authorities said.

Finton admitted traveling on Sept. 23, 2009,  from Decatur to Springfield where he took control of a truck he thought contained a bomb with about one ton of explosives. The the bomb was actually fake.

Finton drove the truck to the Paul Findley Federal Building and Courthouse at 600 East Monroe Street in Springfield, and parked it immediately outside the building and across the street from where a U.S. Congressman had an office.

After Finton parked the van and armed the device, he locked the truck and got into a vehicle with an undercover FBI agent agent whom he believed was associated with the al-Qaeda terrorist organization.

Finton tried using a cell phone to try and detonate the bomb after he and the undercover agent had driven a safe distance away.

“Michael Finton is one of a number of young Americans over the past two years who, under the influence of a radical and violent ideology, have sought to carry out acts of terrorism in the United States,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Todd Hinnen said in a statement.

“Although a coordinated undercover law enforcement investigation thwarted Mr. Finton’s plot to destroy the federal courthouse in Springfield, this case underscores the need to remain vigilant against the threat posed by homegrown extremism.”

Justice Dept. Probing Newark Police Dept.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is going after another major police department.

Nearly a year after it  announced plans to look into questionable practices of the New Orleans Police Department, Justice officials on Monday said they were setting their sites on the Newark Police force.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Perez and U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman of Newark made the announcement, saying they want to fix the problems.

“As Paul mentioned already, the Civil Rights Division, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, conducted a preliminary inquiry and concluded that it would be necessary and appropriate to begin a formal civil pattern or practice investigation,” said Perez.

“Our investigation will focus on allegations of excessive force, unconstitutional stops, searches, arrests and seizures, discriminatory policing, whether officers retaliate against people who observe and/or record police activity and conditions of confinement at the Green Street Lockup,” Perez added.

“U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman and I have put together a top notch team of lawyers and staff. We are retaining experts in policing, and we will reach out to a wide range of stakeholders. We will hear from officers in the NPD, people elsewhere within the administration, key stakeholders in the criminal justice system, and the community at large.”

ATF Still Not Assigning Agents to Virgin Islands After Controversial Murder Case Ends

ATF Agent Will Clark

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON – More than six months after a U.S. Virgin Islands judge tossed out the controversial murder charges against ATF agent Will Clark, the agency appears in no rush to put agents back there.

As a protest, ATF had withdrawn its agents from the Virgin Islands shortly after Clark had been charged with murder in 2008. He fatally shot his neighbor during a confrontation. No ATF agents have been assigned to the Virgin Islands since.

ATF said Monday that it was committed to working with the government of the Virgin Islands to restore ATF’s presence in the territory, but to date, agents were still not assigned there.

Clark eventually got off on the murder charges.  After the trial had already gotten underway, Judge Edgar Ross tossed the case on a technicality, ruling in favor of a defense motion that proper procedure was not followed in identifying the body of shooting victim Marcus Sukow to the medical examiner.

Prosecutors had accused ATF agent Clark of using excessive force during a confrontation with Sukow, who was involved in a in a domestic dispute that day. Clark claimed it was self defense and his agency, after conducting an internal review, found Clark responded properly.

100 Ex-FBI Agents Still Pushing to Free Convicted Boston Agent John Connolly

John Connolly

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

One hundred retired FBI agents — including two deputy directors — aren’t giving up their fight to try and exonerate and free convicted ex-Boston agent John J. Connolly Jr., whose relationships with the Boston mob landed  him in big trouble.

The Los Angeles’s Times Richard Serrano reported that the agents, known as Former FBI Agents for Justice For John, are pushing the Florida state courts to overturn his conviction for second-degree murder after having had no luck overturning his federal conviction for racketeering and obstruction of justice.

Connolly Jr., now 70,  was convicted of murder in Florida state court after allegedly tipping off Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen Flemmi that World Jai Alai President John Callahan was likely to implicate them in a murder, the Times reported. Hitman John Martorano killed Callahan in 1982.

Connolly’s supporters have pointed to the great disparity in sentences between Connolly and Martorano, who confessed to killing 20 people and served 12 years, the Times reported.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Connolly will leave federal prison next month after 9 years, but will go right to state prison in Florida to begin serving a 40 year sentence for the murder. They say the lengthy sentence amounts to a death sentence.

Ex-agent Richard Baker, who is leading the charge, told the Times:

“I have no problem doing this. John was wrongly convicted. And he’ll be dead after just two years in that Florida system. He’ll be shanked or killed once they figure out he was an FBI agent.”

The Florida prosecutor Michael Von Zamft who convicted Connolly says of the ex-agents: “John Connolly wore a badge. He was an FBI agent, and he swore to uphold the law. And yet he became one of the criminals and, maybe worse, he was hiding behind that badge.”

In March, the Associated Press reported that the ex-agents, including the one whose undercover work inspired the movie “Donnie Brasco,”  filed two petitions with Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. “demanding appointment of a special counsel to investigate the 70-year-old Connolly’s prosecution, raising a grab-bag of claims spanning many years, some of which have been previously rejected by courts and aired in congressional hearings. They include allegations of questionable tactics by prosecutors, evidence that a key witness lied during Connolly’s 2002 federal corruption trial and contentions there was a rigged result in his 2008 Florida murder case.”

Other ex-agents pushing for Connolly include FBI deputy directors Weldon L. Kennedy and Bruce J. Gebhardt, the Times reported.

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