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Undercover Operative in Indian Artifact Case Commits Suicide

salt lake city mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ted Dan Gardiner, the undercover witness who helped the feds build a case against more than two dozen people charged with looting American Indian artifacts in the Southwest U.S. , has committed suicide, the Associated Press reported.

AP reported that the 52-year-old apparently shot himself Monday in a Salt Lake City suburb home.

The wire service reported that Gardiner had worked with the FBI and the Bureau of Land Management for more than two years.

Two of the 26 defendants committed suicide last year, AP reported.

Column: Time for D.C.’s Marion Barry to Go

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

D.C. Marion Barry, the guy who got busted years ago for smoking crack, the guy who got busted for failing to pay taxes, the guy who has been one great big embarrassment to the District of Columbia, has now been stripped of his committee chairmanship on the D.C. Council and faces the prospect of yet another federal investigation.

The D.C. Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to censure and strip the chairmanship from the never-a-dull moment politician as a result of an independent report by attorney Robert S. Bennett, which found that Barry landed his ex-girlfriend Donna Watts-Brighthaupt a $15,000 personal-services contract and then took a cut of the contract himself.

Ex-D.C. Mayor Marion Barry

Ex-D.C. Mayor Marion Barry

The council also referred the report to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Washington Post reported.

Marion Barry, former mayor, former community activist, has done some good things for D.C. But he has also done plenty harm. It’s not good when you’re the punchline for comedian Chris Rock. It’s not good when the masses lose faith in you as a leader.

Taxpayers over the years have paid for the expensive federal investigation into his wrongdoing — including him not paying taxes.

He has been an endless source of fodder and amusement for the media. But it’s time to put it to an end.

It’s time for him to step down from the city council — or be forced off.  He’s not a terrible guy. He’s just a terrible representative of the people.

It really is time to say goodbye.

Fed Court of Appeals Judges Testify in Right Wing Shock Jock Trial in Brooklyn

Judge Richard Posner/ harvard photo
Judge Richard Posner/ harvard photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Two federal Court of Appeals judges from Chicago took the stand Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court, saying they felt threatened by the rantings of Internet radio shock jock Hal Turner, the New York Daily News reported.

Federal Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer took the stand and Judge Frank Easterbrook was scheduled to testify in the afternoon. Turner is being retried on charges that he threatened the lives of the judges. A mistrial was declared in the first trial after the jury deadlocked.

Turner wrote in his blog that the judges deserved to die for upholding a gun ban. He also said the judges “didn’t get the hint” after the husband and mother of Chicago Federal Judge Joan Lefkow were murdered, the Daily News reported.

“It’s obviously a threat,” Posner said, according to the Daily News. “It sounds like another murder is needed…namely of me.”

For Full Story

Texas Juror Met With Drug Dealer Defendants During Trial

houston-mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

When it comes to a federal juror stepping over the line, Maximino Gonzalez rates right up there with the best of them.

Maximino, 36, of Palmview, Tex., who served on a jury in 2008, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Houston on Monday to jury tampering  after he met with defendants during trial and tried to get them acquitted, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The trial ended in a mistrial.

He has been in custody since his arrest in January. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Gonzalez was on a jury in November 2008. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that during the trial Gonzalez contacted an unindicted drug dealer implicated by testimony in the trial.

He also contacted two defendants in the trial, brothers Guadalupe and Abraham Hernandez, “to discuss the trial testimony”, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Read more »

LA Woman Pleads to Lying to FBI About Fake Kidnapping That Caught Media’s Attention

lieBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

If you’re going to make up a story and possibly go to prison for it, it might as well be a grand one.

Enter Sylvia Mardini. The 24-year-old Los Angeles woman who pretended she had been kidnapped across state lines last summer, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Los Angeles  to lying to the FBI. She faces up to five years in prison at sentencing on May 10.

Mardini vanished last August 21 and started sending text messages to her mother saying she had been kidnapped at gunpoint and she was in Utah, authorities said.

The hoax got the attention of the media. The FBI and Los Angeles Police coordinated a multi-state search.

Colorado State Patrol found her at a gas station alone in Routt County, Colo. After she returned to Los Angeles, she told FBI agents of the kidnapping story.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Maryland Drug Dealer Gets 24-Plus Years For Witness Tampering in Death of Fellow Gang Member

baltimoreBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A 25-year-old Maryland drug dealer, who was known to wear a radio frequency device to detect undercover law enforcement with recording devices, was sentenced in Baltimore on Monday to 24 years and 4 months in prison for witness tampering in the death of a fellow drug dealer.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced Steven Leroy Stone, age 25, of Frederick, Md., on charges of conspiracy to commit witness tampering and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and a crime of violence resulting in death, in connection with the murder of David Lee, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The plea agreement said that Stone in 2004 and 2005 worked with Lee and others to distribute cocaine, marijuana and ectasy in the Frederick, Md. area.  The gang became known as “B-6”, which stood for “the bottom of Sixth Street”, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

In 2005, Stone and others started to suspect that Lee was snitching on them and they learned that he had received subpoenas to testify before a grand jury.

Read more »

Author J.D. Salinger Doesn’t Rate an FBI File

catcher in the ryeBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Sorry J.D. Salinger, you may have made a big splash with your words, but you weren’t worthy of an FBI file.

The Associated Press reports that the FBI said it never opened up a file on Salinger, author of “The Catcher in the Rye”, who died in January at age 91.

The AP discovered this after filing a request for the files under the Freedom of Information Act.

Salinger was not known to be very political over the years, the AP reported. Conversely, the FBI had files on authors like Norman Mailer.

Hazmat Teams Respond to Utah IRS Center After Suspicious Letter Found

ogden utah
UPDATE: Mon.- 9 p.m. (EST) — ABC 4 News in Utah reports that the suspicious powder was not hazardous.
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A suspicious powder letter in a mail facility set off a series of events Monday  at the Ogden, Utah IRS center.

ABC 4 News  in Utah and the Associated Press report that hazmat teams and FBI and other agencies responded to the scene and some people are being decontaminated. One report said a person had been taken away on a stretcher and AP reported that some parts of the building had been evacuated while other parts were locked down.

In the past, ever since 2001, the suspicious letters with powder that have gone through the post office have been found to be harmless.

In the past, some people have had panic attacks when being exposed to the letters.  Every letter that goes through the U.S. Postal Service passes through a biohazard detector, which should detect such substances as anthrax. In other words, if it passed through the postal service, it’s unlikley the substance is dangerous.

Time will tell.