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13 Somalis and 1 Yemini Pirate Indicted in Deaths of 4 Off Somali Coast


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The feds have indicted 13 Somalis and one Yemeni pirate in Norfolk, Va., in the tragic hijacking of a 54-foot yacht off the Somali coast that resulted in the death of four U.S. citizens last month following a five-day standoff with American authorities, the FBI said.

“This is a horrific crime, involving the armed hijacking of an American ship and the slaughter of American citizens,” said U.S. Neil H. MacBridge. “The alleged pirates will now face justice in an American courtroom.”

“These 14 men are alleged to have been willing to do anything, including killing their hostages, in a vain attempt to obtain ransom,” added FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Janice Fedarcyk of the New York office, which investigated the case. “Modern day piracy has real and serious consequences, disrupting commerce and threatening Americans’ lives. It is a crime against the international community, a form of terrorism on the high seas.”

American authorities tried to negotiate the release of the hostages, but the pirates allegedly killed all of them before authorities made the arrests.

HBO Star from “The Wire” Arrested in Baltimore in Major Drug Bust by DEA and Locals

Felicia "Snoop" Pearson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — One of the reasons David Simons’ critically acclaimed HBO show “The Wire” was so realistic was because it had folks like Felicia “Snoop” Pearson —  who murdered someone in real life– playing the role of a tom-boy, drug assassin.

On Thursday, Pearson –who according to the Washington Post’s Reliable Source — had gotten involved in drug trafficking years ago, and killed another girl at age 14, was before cameras again, but this time it was real.

Baltimore television news stations showed video of two DEA agents  escorting the handcuffed Pearson, 30,  from her downtown Baltimore apartment into a Baltimore City police van.

Pearson, who was a crack-addicted infant, according to media reports,  was listed as one of 64 defendants in the Baltimore area charged in  federal and local indictments for allegedly dealing heroin and other drugs in east Baltimore.

David Simon, the Baltimore writer who created “The Wire,” said in a statement published in the Baltimore Sun:

“First of all, Felicia’s entitled to the presumption of innocence. And I would note that a previous, but recent drug arrest that targeted her was later found to be unwarranted and the charges were dropped. Nonetheless, I’m certainly sad at the news today. This young lady has, from her earliest moments, had one of the hardest lives imaginable.”

Ava Cooper, special agent in charge of the DEA for Washington and Baltimore, issued a statement on the investigation, saying: “DEA and the Baltimore Police dismantled an entire Drug Trafficking Organization today. We got the top, we got the bottom and we got everybody in between.

“We arrested the leaders, mid- and lower-level members, street lieutenants, runners and street corners sellers of the organization.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Justice Dept. Has to Read Prosecutor’s Hot Sex Scenes

photo/stephen spiegelhalter

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — Officials in the buttoned-down world of the U.S. Department of Justice, accustomed to dull legal briefs and just-the-facts indictments, are getting a dose of steamy sex scenes on their reading list.

That’s because assistant U.S. Attorney Allison Leotta, a D.C. sex crimes prosecutor, recently landed a three-book deal with Simon & Schuster. Her first suspense novel “Law of Attraction,” released in October, included some hot sex scenes. Her second novel, already in the works, promises more of the same.

And her bosses have to read each manuscript before publication to check for any security breach issues.

“It was embarrassing to me,” Leotta, 37, said of the screening of the first book by Justice officials. “There were some steamy sex scenes, not the sort of thing I’d discuss with my boss and ethics officials at the Justice Department. It made rides in the elevator a little uncomfortable for a while.”

In the end, the Justice Department didn’t make her change a thing about the sex scenes. But she did have to make a few minor adjustments in other areas. One involved deleting some details about security at D.C. Superior Court.

Interestingly, the sex scenes and her bosses weren’t the only things that made her squirm before the release of the first book … there was that thing with her dad.

In the first book, the character Anna Curtis, who is expected to appear in the next two novels, is a sex crimes prosecutor — just like Leotta. And in the book, Curtis has an abusive dad — not at all like Leotta’s.

Still, her father, Alan Harnisch, an attorney and ex-Detroit federal prosecutor, initially wasn’t amused. After first reading the manuscript two years ago, he told AOL News, “To be honest, I wasn’t too crazy (about the book). I actually teared up. I always thought I was a good dad, I always worked hard at it.”

He waited a few days before calling his daughter, who said, “Dad, everyone who knows you will know it’s not you. It’s something I had to do to add a little something to the plot.”

Harnisch eventually came around — with the help of some plain talk from his wife, who told him, “Oh, you’re nuts, it’s just fiction.” “That snapped me out of that,” he said. Leotta, a suburban Detroit native, added, “In real life, my dad is really wonderful.”

As for the public’s reaction to the book, so far it has been strongly positive.

Suspense Magazine called her “an author to keep your eye on.” In mid-December, the novel ranked second on Amazon’s Kindle list of legal thrillers.

Critic for Minneapolis’ Star Tribune Carole E. Barrowman wrote, “The balance between romance and suspense can be difficult to sustain in a mystery. In this debut novel, Leotta smoothly blends both into an engaging legal thriller that’s far better than anything I’ve read from Grisham or the like.”

Leotta, the mother of two sons, ages 3 and 1, and wife of federal prosecutor Michael Leotta, whom she met in law school, has the writing bug. She’s on leave from her job to work on her next book. But she still loves being a prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a position she landed in 2003 after working three years at the Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Litigation.

“The amazing thing about my job is you never know what’s around the corner,” she said. “Every case is fascinating, heartbreaking and tragic. And incredibly touching and emotionally wrenching. In some ways, (the job) just felt like a novel.”

Leotta joked that now that the word’s out about the sexual content, perhaps more people at the Justice Department will volunteer to screen the next book.

All joking aside, she’s not sure how she’ll feel when the bosses go over the next manuscript and come across the tantalizing passages. This time “might even be worse,” she said.

“I was writing a sex scene a couple days ago and I was imagining one of my bosses reading it and I was cringing a little. But I pressed on,” she said.

Does her husband mind her writing those scenes? “He likes it,” Leotta said with a chuckle. “He doesn’t want to brag or anything, but he likes to think he sees a little bit of himself in there.”

Plus, she said, “He likes to help with the research.”

2 NY Lawmakers Among 8 Indicted in Bribery Schemes

Sen. Carl Kruger/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Some of our politicians simply refuse to let us down when it comes to the negative stereotype.

The FBI on Thursday announced indictments against N.Y. State Senator Carl Kruger and Assemblyman William F. Boyland Jr. on charges of accepting bribes in exchange for official acts as lawmakers.

The two lawmakers were among eight people indicted in bribery schemes that collectively exceeded $1 million, the FBI said.

The FBI said in a press release that Kruger allegedly accepted more than $1 million in bribes from a lobbyist, a real estate developer and and health care consultant, all of whom were also charged.

Authorities charged that from at least 2006 through March 2011, KRUGER “received a stream of bribes totaling at least $1 million in exchange for taking official actions on behalf of the bribe payers as opportunities arose.”

And rather than receive the payments directly, he allegedly funneled them to the accounts of two shell companies established by MICHAEL TURANO—Olympian Strategic Development Corp. (“Olympian”) and Bassett Brokerage (“Bassett”).

Authorities also charged that Assemblyman Boyland accepted $177,000 in bribes from a hospital executive.

Read NY Times Story

Boston Mobster Enrico Ponzo Became “Remade” Man as Rancher in Idaho


By WILLIAM YARDLEY
New York Times

MARSING, Idaho — Enrico Ponzo was never a proper mobster, a “made man” in the vernacular of the underworld. He was a renegade, prosecutors say, part of a violent faction intent on ousting the bosses of the powerful Patriarca crime family in Boston in the early 1990s.

When a wide-ranging indictment came down against him and 14 others in 1997, Mr. Ponzo was charged with crimes that included attempted murder and extortion. But he was also listed as the target of a contract killing planned by one of the other defendants.

While most everyone else in the case went to prison, Mr. Ponzo was not arrested — he had been missing since 1994.

Jeffrey John “Jay” Shaw was never a natural rancher. The accent from back East and his inexperience with cattle gave him away quickly as another newcomer reinventing himself in the West. “He wore bib overalls and straw hats,” said Brodie Clapier, a neighbor and a longtime rancher. “People did wear bib overalls here — in the 1930s.”

To read more click here.

President Nominates U.S. Atty. For Virgin Islands and U.S. Marshals for NJ and Va.

Ronald Sharpe/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — President Obama continued to chip away at filling some law enforcement seats Wednesday by nominating a U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands and U.S. Marshals for Virginia and New Jersey.

The president nominated Ronald W. Sharpe for U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Island. Sharpe has served as the interim U.S. Attorney there since 2009 and immediately before that he served as the First Assistant U.S. Attorney.

For U.S. Marshal, Robert “Bobby” Mathieson was nominated for the Eastern District of Virginia and Juan Mattos Jr. was picked as the nominee for New Jersey.

Robert “Bobby” Mathieson, who is director of business development for Rileen Innovative Technologies, retired as a master police officer in 2002 from the Virginia Beach Police Department. He was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2008.

Juan Mattos Jr. retired in 2010 as a Lt. Colonel in the New Jersey State Police. He currently serves as an Agent with the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office in Edison, N.J.

FBI Looking into Allegations Involving Newly Elected D.C. Mayor

FBI Arrests Man in MLK Day Bomb Incident in Spokane

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI on Wednesday announced the arrest of an ex-soldier with ties to White Supremacists in connection with a bomb that was placed along the parade route at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity March in Spokane, Wa., on Jan. 17.

Kevin William Harpham, age 36, of Colville, Wa. was arrested and charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered explosive device. The Spokesman Review reported that Harpham served from 1996 to 1999 as a fire support specialist with the Army’s 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment.

The Spokesman Review reported that the Southern Poverty Law Center confirmed that Harpham in 2004 was a member of the White Supremacist group, the National Alliance.

“What to me this arrest suggests is that the Martin Luther King Day attack is what it always looked like: A terror-mass murder attempt directed at black people and their sympathizers,” Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project told the paper.

But Erich Gliebe, chairman of the National Alliance, based in Hillsboro, W.Va., told the paper that Harpham is not a member of the group.

“We have a zero tolerance policy regarding illegal activity and anyone committing those acts – even hinting or joking — would not be welcome in our organization,” Gliebe said.