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Cargo Shipping Firms Agree to Pay $50.2 Million Criminal Fines in Price Fixing Scheme

justice dept. logoBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Six international freight companies agreed this week to pay criminal fines totaling $50.2 million for their role in a price fixing scheme involving international cargo, the Justice Department said.

“The department’s investigation uncovered six different conspiracies harming businesses and consumers in the United States and across the globe,” Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, said in a statement. “Our investigation continues in this important industry.”

Authorities said the six companies, known as “freight forwarders”, manage the domestic and international delivery of cargo for customers by receiving, packaging, preparing and warehousing cargo freight, arranging for cargo shipment through transportation providers such as air carriers and steamship lines, preparing shipment documentation, and providing related ancillary services.”

Authorities alleged that the companies met and agreed to “coordinate various charges and fees on customers purchasing international freight forwarding services for cargo freight destined for air shipment to the United States.” The agreements came between 2002 and 2007.

The companies are: EGL Inc., a Houston-based company; Kühne + Nagel International AG, based in Schindellegi, Switzerland (K+N); Geologistics International Management (Bermuda) Limited, based in Hamilton, Bermuda; Panalpina World Transport (Holding) Ltd., based in Basel, Switzerland; Schenker AG, based in Essen, Germany; and BAX Global Inc., a Toledo, Ohio-based company.

FBI Says Ex-NY University Official Forced Students to Perform Chores For Scholarships

SJ_LogoBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Now it’s the feds turn to teach Cecilia Chang, former vice president and dean of a New York university, a big lesson.

Federal authorities in New York on Wednesday indicted the former St. John’s University official for allegedly threatening to revoke scholarships if students failed to carry out certain tasks like cook, shovel snow, clean, wash clothes and chauffeur her family, who lives in Queens.

She also had students deliver money to her at a casino, authorities alleged in a court document. She is charged with soliciting and accepting payments of things of value as an agent of an organization and forced labor.

FBI agent Kenneth F. Hosey in an affidavit said that Chang had the authority to grant “discretionary scholarships” to up to 15 students each year.

“Chang threatened the students and placed them in fear that if they refused to perform these personal services, they would lose their scholarships and be unable to attend St. John’s,” Hosey wrote.

Read FBI Affidavit

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Fed Prosecutor (WAS) in Hot Water After Jumping in Pool with Boxers

Boiling Water on GasUPDATE: The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office decided Tuesday (10-18) not to press formal charges, saying there was insufficient evidence to show  he `intentionally exposed his genitals in a lewd or lascivious manner,” according to the Miami Herald.

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

Depending how you look at it, Miami federal prosecutor Sean Cronin landed in hot water when his privates went public. Or when he first plunged into a cool pool at a watering hole wearing just his boxer shorts.

Whatever the case, one thing led to another on Sunday afternoon at a beer, chicken wings and sushi joint overlooking the Miami River. A mother covered her daughter’s eyes. Then the Miami cops showed up and arrested Cronin, 35, on a felony charge of lewd and lascivious exhibition and a misdemeanor count of resisting a police officer without violence.

Federal prosecutor Sean Cronin was arrested Sunday on suspicion of lewd and lascivious conduct after jumping into a restaurant pool in his boxer shorts.

Now it’s in the hands of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, which is trying to figure out whether to move forward or drop the whole matter.

“It’s too early to tell if any charges are going to be filed,” Terry Chavez, a spokeswoman for the State Attorney’s Office, told AOL News. “We have to bring witnesses in and see if [Cronin] and his lawyer want to make statements. It’s a brand-new case. Our lawyers are looking into it like any other case.”

Sean Cronin/miami-dade corrections

Sean Cronin/miami-dade corrections

Cronin’s lawyer, Joel Denaro, told The Miami Herald the charges are “beyond absurd. He went swimming in his boxer shorts, for God’s sake. He did nothing wrong.” Attempts to reach Denaro and Cronin, who works in the U.S. Attorney’s Appellate Division, were unsuccessful. The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not return calls for comment.

The incident happened Sunday afternoon at Finnegan’s River, a restaurant and bar on Southwest Third Avenue in Miami. The New England Patriots football game was on the big screen, and Cronin, a Boston native, was watching. At some point, the 5-foot-5, 160-pound Cronin jumped into the pool at the bar, wearing only his boxer shorts. A woman and her young daughter were at the pool.

Then, according to a police report obtained by AOL News, when Cronin “came out of the pool, his penis was exposed and appeared to be erect.”

The mother “covered her daughter’s eyes,” then alerted pool staff members, who tried to detain Cronin until police arrived, the report said.

“While trying to detain the defendant, he tried escaping through a back exit,” the report said. “At this time Officer Arzola … arrived on the scene in a marked police vehicle wearing full uniform [and] observed the defendant running out the back of the establishment … and [he] continued fleeing southbound, jumping over multiple fences.” The officer apprehended him.

The bar where it all happened isn’t commenting — at least not to the media. “We’re not able to release any information,” a Finnegan’s River employee said over the phone.

Still, that hasn’t kept people from offering up opinions and talking about the matter, particularly in the law enforcement community.

“I do believe, however, that our society has overcriminalized people’s behavior and actions to the point of absurdity,” Tony Riggio, a former high-ranking FBI official, told AOL News. “We have all been guilty of stupidness at various times in our life. That a mother and daughter were offended is too bad, but wouldn’t it have been more human to just laugh it off as a silly stunt or an act of a man being ‘boy.’ It seems we take our lives too seriously and fail to enjoy life.”

A Miami federal agent, who asked not to be named, told AOL News that some people in Miami law enforcement circles think the whole thing has gone too far and that Cronin has a reputation as a good prosecutor and a decent guy.

“He shouldn’t have run,” the agent said. “But it’s been blown out of proportion. Should the guy be ruined and destroyed over one act of indiscretion? His indiscretion was drinking and jumping into the pool with loose-fitting boxer shorts on.”

Scores Charged in Cybertheft of Millions from U.S. Banks

computer1By Allan Lengel
AOL News

More than than 60 people were indicted today on charges of stealing millions of dollars from U.S. bank accounts through mischievous computer attacks.

In announcing the local and federal indictments, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of New York said that modern high-tech bank heists no longer require “a gun, a mask, a note or a getaway car. … It requires only the Internet and ingenuity. And it can be accomplished in the blink of an eye, with just a click of the mouse.”

Authorities said the cyberattacks began in Eastern Europe with the e-mailing of a malware known as “Zeus Trojan.”

The e-mails were sent to municipalities and small businesses in the United States, and once they were opened, the malware embedded itself in the computers, recording keystrokes of account numbers and passwords when users logged into bank accounts, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

To read more click here.

Mi. Atty. Gen. Says FBI Did Not Violate Law in Fatally Shooting of Imam

Luqman Ameen Abdullah

Luqman Ameen Abdullah

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Michigan Attorney General said the FBI violated no state laws when it fatally shot a Detroit mosque leader Luqman Ameen Abdullah during a raid of a suburban warehouse last October, the Detroit News reported.

“My office’s review found undisputed evidence that Mr. Abdullah resisted arrest and fired a gun first in the direction of the agents,” Attorney General Mike Cox said, according to the News. “Under Michigan law, law enforcement agents are justified in using deadly force in these types of situations, and therefore we found no crimes.”

Abdullah, an imam, was shot 20 times by FBI agents after he reportedly fired a weapon and killed an FBI dog. The shooting occurred during a raid on a warehouse in Dearborn in connection with stolen goods.

The Justice Department is currently reviewing an internal FBI probe of the matter, the News reported.

Report: Holocaust Museum Shooter Targeted White House’s David Axelrod

James von Brunn/facebook photo

James von Brunn/facebook photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — Weeks after a white supremacist shot and killed a guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington in 2009, White House senior adviser David Axelrod showed up at his favorite Chicago Jewish deli with an entourage of Secret Service agents.

In the past, he had no protection. But in July 2009, it was different. He was spotted with the added protection at Manny’s, a cafeteria-style deli on South Jefferson Street.

At the time, few knew why he suddenly was getting protection, though it was clear plenty of citizens around the nation were up in arms over President Barack Obama’s push for health care reform.

But now Time magazine reports that the Holocaust museum shooter, James von Brunn, who shot and killed an African-American guard, also had someone else on his list: David Axelrod. The magazine suggests the threat prompted the new protection detail.

To read more click here.

Congressman Continues to Apply Pressure on Virgin Islands to Drop Murder Charge Against ATF Agent

Rep. Chris Lee at press conference
Rep. Chris Lee at press conference

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY) continued to apply pressure Thursday, holding a press conference near the Capitol in an attempt to get the Virgin Islands to drop murder charges against  ATF agent Will Clark who shot and killed someone in September 2008 during a confrontation.

“Will was doing what his training and his background taught him to do – he was coming to the aid of a battered woman,” Lee said in a statement issued  after the press conference, which was attended by members of the law enforcement community. “I’m pleased to join with a bipartisan group of senators and representatives to call attention to Will’s heroism and question his treatment in this case. America’s brave law enforcement officers need to know they will be supported for courageous and lawful actions to defend the innocent, not prosecuted for it.”

Read more »

FBI Joins LAPD to Solve 27 Murders in 3 Months

los anglesBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI teamed up with the police department to help solve 27 murders in the past three months, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The paper reports that under the joint effort, which began July 1, the FBI provided six agents, equipment, crime lab help and money to pay for LAPD detectives’ overtime. One of the unsolved crimes was two decades old.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve never seen anything like this,”veteran LAPD homicide Det. Sal LaBarbera told the LA Times. “We were able to clear cases at a pace that we never would have been able to hit. Twenty-seven homicides in three months? That’s unheard of.”

To read more click here.