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Hundreds Charged in Crackdown on Investment Fraud

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A 3 1/2 month operation involving the  nation’s “largest ever” crackdown on  financial fraud,  has resulted in the arrest of hundreds of people who swindled investors out of  billions of dollars, the Justice Department announced Monday.

Dubbed “Operation Broken Trust”, authorities said they have taken criminal action against 343 people and civil action against 189 in a crackdown that involved more than 120,000 victims. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said losses exceeded more than in $8 billion in the criminal cases alone and more than $2 billion in the civil cases.

“While there is nothing new about conducting nationwide operations and sweeps – this one is different in that it brought together a broad array of criminal and civil enforcement tools, at both the federal and state level, to attack investment fraud schemes collectively,” Holder said at a press conference here.

“Operation Broken Trust is the first national operation in history to target the many different types of investment fraud schemes that prey directly on the investing public.”

“All of these victims can tell a tragic and cautionary story of being misled and exploited – often by someone they trusted,” Holder said. “In fact, many of the scam artists we’ve identified were preying on their own neighbors – and on the most vulnerable members of their communities.

“Several of those prosecuted during this operation solicited victim investors from their own churches. One man in Texas allegedly targeted his fellow parishioners, asking them to invest with him and claiming that his success in foreign exchange trading was ‘a blessing from God’.”

Holder specifically gave a shout out at the press conference to:  FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry, SEC Director of Enforcement Robert Khuzami, U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Chief Postal Inspector, Guy Cottrell; IRS Criminal Investigation Deputy Chief Rick Raven; and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Acting Director of Enforcement Vincent McGonagle.

While Blago Awaits Retrial He Pushes Nuts

Gov Blagojevich in happier days/state photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Some of his constituents have called him a nut, so perhaps the latest act of federal defendant Rod Blagojevich makes sense…or at least some cents.

Blagojevich joins Snooki, comic Lewis Black, and “Keyboard Cat” as a pitchman in the Wonderful Pistachios’s “Get Crackin'” ad campaign, the Chicago Reader reports.

Meanwhile, the disgraced ex-governor of Illinois awaits a retrial in April in U.S. District Court in Chicago on federal corruption charges. Blagojevich embarrassed prosecutors when he was convicted on only one of 24 corruption counts. The jury deadlocked on the remaining charges and a mistrial was declared.

Last week, at a hearing in Chicago, prosecutors said they were working on a questionnaire for jurors, the Associated Press.

His charges include allegations that he tried selling Barack Obama’s Senate seat.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SH6B5s4uWEQ

ICE Did Questionable Things to Meet Deportation Goal

ice photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement manipulated the system and did highly questionable things to meet deportation goals, the Center for Investigative Reporting reported in the Washington Post.

The news organization reported that ICE included in its stats  more than 19,000 immigrants who exited the U.S. the previous year.

“When ICE officials realized in the final weeks of the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, that the agency still was in jeopardy of falling short of last year’s mark, it scrambled to reach the goal,” Andrew Becker of the Center for Investigative Reporting reported. “Officials quietly directed immigration officers to bypass backlogged immigration courts and time-consuming deportation hearings whenever possible, internal e-mails and interviews show.

“Instead, officials told immigration officers to encourage eligible foreign nationals to accept a quick pass to their countries without a negative mark on their immigration record, ICE employees said,” according to the news organization.

To read the full story click here.

Calif FBI Employee Charged With Lying About Debt

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A FBI employee in San Francisco is in big trouble as a result of financial statement she made, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The paper reported that Rachelle Thomas-Zuill, 39, who conducted background investigations on FBI agents for security clearances in San Francisco, was charged in court documents in San Jose with lying about the  debt she had on her properties, court records show.

Thomas-Zuill  wrote on a financial disclosure form to the government that she owned three properties with an outstanding mortgage debt of $866,000, when in reality she owned six properties with a debt of more than $2.2 million, the paper wrote.

The paper reported that she worked from 2003 until July of this year as a personnel security specialist for the FBI.

Man Once Charged With Trying to Kill Boston Celtic Star Convicted of Trying to Murder DEA Informant


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A man once charged with the attempted murder of Boston Celtics basketball star Paul Pierce, was convicted late last week of attempting to kill a DEA informant who provided evidence against him in cocaine trafficking case, authorities said.

Trevor A. Watson, 44, of Boston, was found guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Boston of stabbing the informant 10 times outside of Ann’s Unisex Barbershop on Tremont Street on the south end of Boston on Feb. 27, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Evidence in court showed Watson stabbed the informant, who survived the attack after emergency surgery to repair his damaged colon and intestine.

Authorities said while stabbing the informant, Watson said: “You talking, huh? you telling.”

Paul Pierce/espn

During trial, evidence surfaced that WATSON was charged with the attempted murder of Boston Celtic Paul Pierce in 2002. However, the jury acquitted him after multiple eyewitnesses changed their testimony, authorities said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Watson tried to get witnesses in the DEA case, including the informant, to change their statement to authorities.

He wrote letters and made phone calls from prison in which he wrote: “I had introduced my lawyer to the fact that if the victim in my case was to sign an affidavit saying I’m not the guy who stabbed him, it was some Spanish guy about 30, which I am not either, I’ll be alright …” and “The Paul Pierce case was the same way, but at trial he changed his statements and I got found not guilty of att. mur. (attempted murder).”

Sentencing is set for March 10.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Weekend Series on Crime: Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy vs. Jimmy Hoffa

FBI Agents Investigating Police Beating on Maryland Campus Visit Cops at Home

SEE VIDEO OF BEATING

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8GRwgIKVN8

Ex-UC Davis Fullback to Head FBI’s Sacramento Office

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Herbert Brown, section chief of the FBI’s gang and drug section at headquarters, will take over the Sacramento FBI office in January, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Brown, 53, a former fullback with the UC Davis football team in the 1970s, replaces Drew Parenti, who retired in October. He’ll supervise 160 agents, the paper reported.

The paper reported that Brown was promoted to section chief of the FBI’s Gang Criminal Enterprise Section in 2008.

The FBI on Friday confirmed the appointment.