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May 2021


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Can a Heart Attack Help a Defendant in Court? The Feds in Detroit Think So

heart attack
By Allan Lengel

Does it help a federal defendant’s case  if he has a heart attack while on trial? Can it make the jury far too sympathetic?

Assistant U.S. Attorneys in downtown Detroit prosecuting six members of the Highwaymen Motorcycle Club fear the answer is YES!

Last weekend, three weeks into the trial, defendant Michael Cicchetti, 55,  had a heart attack.  Interestingly, in opening statements, his attorney Sanford Plotkin claimed Cicchetti was a harmless person plagued with multiple ailments and the government was off the mark by charging him with racketeering, drug dealing conspiracy, assault, transporting stolen vehicles and a weapons offense.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds, after learning of the heart attack,   declared a mistrial for Cicchetti and decided he would be tried later while trial would continue for the other five defendants.  On Tuesday, Plotkin told the judge he had spoken to his client, who wanted the trial to go on in absentia.

On Tuesday, the judge spoke by teleconference call to Cicchetti in the hospital, who said he was happy with the trial and wanted it to go on in his absence.  The judge on  Wednesday  obliged. She reversed her mistrial ruling and declared that Cicchetti should be tried in absentia.

The prosecution didn’t like that idea one bit. In fact, it had argued in a motion filed on Tuesday that the judge should declare a mistrial. Period.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Graveline wrote in a motion that after the  judge told the jury about the heart attack “many jurors in their body language and facial expressions, rightly expressed concern for Mr. Cicchetti.”  The prosecutor said the government did not object to the judge telling the jury about the heart attack because it assumed that Cicchetti would be prosecuted later  before a different jury.

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Man Charged in Oregon With Hiring Undercover FBI Agent as Hitman to Kill Girlfriend

Scientist Tells Panel Dr. Ivins is Not the Anthrax Killer

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — The killer anthrax case is not dead — at least in some circles.

The New York Times reports that a former Army microbiologist Henry S. Heine told a National Academy of Sciences panel on Thursday that his colleague Bruce E. Ivins could not have produced the deadly anthrax spores, contrary to what the FBI has concluded. The panel is reviewing the FBI’s scientific work on the case.

Ivins committed suicide in July of 2008 shortly before federal authorities were about to charge him in the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people, sickened 17 others. The attacks changed the way the postal service processes mail and has lead to endless hoaxes involving white powder letters.

The Times reported that Heine told reporters after his testimony that Ivins couldn’t have carried out the attacks, and among the senior scientists at the Army bio-defense lab in Maryland where Ivins worked “no one believes it.”

The Times reported that Heine testified that producing the quantity of deadly spores would involved a year of intensive work that would not have gone unnoticed by colleagues, and because the way the lab was set up,  the spores would have floated out of the lab.

“You’d have had dead animals or dead people,” he testified according to the Times.

“Whoever did this is still running around out there,”  Heine said, according to the Times. “I truly believe that.”

The FBI declined to comment, according to the Times.


Blago’s Attorneys Want Judge to Subpoena President Obama

white house photo
By Allan Lengel

The Blago show continued on Thursday when attorneys for the ex-Illinois governor asked the Chicago federal judge to subpoena President Barack Obama to testify at trial.

“President Obama has direct knowledge to allegations made in the indictment,” Blagojevich’s attorneys wrote in a court filing.”In addition, President Obama’s public statements contradict other witness statements.”

Blagojevich was arrested in December 2008 while still governor on charges of using his office to enrich himself, his wife and close associates. One allegation was that he was trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Obama.

Read Defense Filing

Read Chicago Tribune story

Read Chicago Sun-Times story

Senate Confirms 5 U.S. Attys and 5 U.S. Marshals

Loretta Lynch/law firm photo

Loretta Lynch/law firm photo

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON -– Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) on Thursday lauded the Senate for clearing up a backlog of nominations and confirming five U.S. Attorneys and five U.S. Marshals. He said some of the nominations had been pending before the Senate for more than a month.

“I am grateful that Senate Republicans have released the holds that have prevented the confirmation of these 10 law enforcement nominations,” Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “I spoke about them, again, this morning. I thank Senator Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, for helping to clear these nominations at this time.”

“I hope this marks the end of Republican obstruction that has forced procedural motions to end filibusters when there is no opposition, and that they will not continue to make extensive demands for extended debate time when there is no debate,” he said. “We need to get to issues that concern the American people, including Wall Street reform and patent reform. ”

The U.S. Attorney nominations confirmed Thursday afternoon include: William N. Nettles for the District of South Carolina; Wilfredo A. Ferrer for the Southern District of Florida; David A. Capp for the Northern District of Indiana; Anne M. Tompkins for the Western District of North Carolina and  Loretta E. Lynch for the Eastern District of New York.

The nominations for U.S. Marshals included: Kelly M. Nesbit for the Western District of North Carolina; Peter C. Munoz for the Western District of Michigan; Noel C. March for the District of Maine; George White for the Southern District of Mississippi;  and Brian T. Underwood for the District of Idaho.

Calif. “Geezer Bandit” In No Hurry to Retire

"Geezer Bandit"/fbi

"Geezer Bandit"/fbi

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

It appears the California “Geezer Bandit” isn’t about to retire from a life of crime anytime soon.

The FBI says the prolific bandit on Tuesday knocked over his seventh bank since August — this time in Vista, a community in northern San Diego County. The FBI has described him as 60 to 70 years old.

According to authorities, the robber, clad in a blue San Diego Padres baseball cap with a script-style P on it, walked into the California Bank and Trust on Escondido Avenue in Vista at about 9:10 a.m.

The FBI said he waited at a customer kiosk until a teller was available. He then approached with what appeared to be two $20 bills in his hand. The teller, the FBI said, assumed the man wanted change.

But instead he showed the teller a note saying that it was a robbery and that he was armed.

To read complete story click here.

Palin’s Daughter Bristol Testifies About Harassment in Fed Court in Hacker’s Trial

Baton Rouge U.S. Atty. David Dugas Stepping Down This Week

baton rouge mapBy Allan Lengel

Baton Rouge U.S. Attorney David R. Dugas, a Bush appointee who took office five weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, announced he is stepping down at the end of the week to join a national law firm with offices in Louisiana.

“Serving as United States Attorney has been the greatest honor and most rewarding experience of my professional career,” Dugas said in a statement. “I have had the privilege of serving alongside dedicated and professional public servants in the United States Attorney’s Office and in the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in this district and across the country. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to President Bush and to President Obama for allowing me to serve the cause of justice in their administrations.”

Duggas noted in his press release that he was appointed Director of the National Center for Disaster Fraud (formerly the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force National Command Center) in December of 2005 “and personally directed the design, creation and operation of the Command Center since its inception.”

Dugas also noted that “he spearheaded the creation of a dedicated FBI Public Corruption squad in Baton Rouge as well as the FBI’s Public Corruption and White Collar Crime Task Force.”