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DEA’s Michele Leonhart Still Appears on Track to Get Agency’s Top Post

Michele Leonhart/dea photo

Michele Leonhart/dea photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Despite all the speculation and rumor as to who will be the next chief of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, word has it that the acting chief Michele Leonhart is still on track to get the nod from the White House for the top post.

Leonhart, whose title is acting administrator, was one of four people being considered for the job as the permanent administrator. Several months back, the FBI’s deputy director John Pistole, by all accounts,  seemed to be the front runner.

But for some reason,  sources said Leonhart had stepped to the front of the line. Still, because nothing has happened, speculation as to who will be the chief continues to circulate inside and outside the agency.

But a source says that Leonhart is  on track to get the job, but it’s still not a done deal. DEA spokesman Rusty Payne declined to comment Wednesday on the matter.

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Reputed Chicago Gang Member Charged With Killing ATF Informant

ChicagoBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A reputed Chicago gang member was charged Tuesday with killing an ATF informant in 2006, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Spencer Martin, 32, a member of the Vice Lords, is accused of fatally shooting Earl Willis, 26. Willis’ body was found in a van on the city’s South side.

The paper reports that Martin and Willis allegedly robbed a North Side gas station and Martin shot someone.  Tests indicate the same gun was used to shoot Willis.

To read more click here.

Jurors in Gotti Case Said Evidence Was Weak and Govt. Should Not Go For 5th Trial

John Gotti Jr./youtube

John Gotti Jr./youtube

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

One juror in the John “Junior” Gotti racketeering trial put it succinctly on Tuesday after the jury was hopelessly deadlocked and the judge declared a mistrial.

“The evidence was just not there to prosecute the guy,” said one of the jurors, who remained anonymous, according to the New York Times.

A group of jurors also said the government should not try to prosecute Gotti again.

The government said Tuesday that it had not yet decided whether to go for a fifth trial. This was Gotti’s fourth. The other three, just like this one, ended in mistrials after jurors failed to reach a unanimous decision.

Four jurors met with reporters Tuesday after the mistrial was declared and talked about the flaws in the government’s case.

The four jurors said they seemed to buy  Gotti’s defense that he had withdrawn from the mob long ago, according to the New York Times.

“The jurors said that of the 12 people on the panel, 6 did not believe that Mr. Gotti quit the mob, 5 did believe him and one remained undecided,” the Times reported.

The group also said they did believe John Alite, the government’s key witness, who is a “confessed hit man and a former member of Mr. Gotti’s crew,” the Times reported.

The jurors  said the government should quit trying to put Gotti behind bars.

“They should stop this now — it’s ridiculous,” said one of the jurors, a middle-aged man, according to the Times. Another juror, a woman, said of the prosecution: “It’s abusive. It’s almost become a mockery.”

To read more click here.

FBI Busts D.C. Guards on Charges of Smuggling Cellphones and Ipods to Inmates for Cash

dc. dept of correctionsBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — An undercover FBI employee posing as an inmate’s brother, helped bust two D.C. corrections officers and a Maryland woman on federal bribery charges for allegedly smuggling cellphones and iPods to prisoners in exchange for cash payments, the Washington Post reported.

Authorities on Tuesday arrested corrections officers Thomas Ford, 35, and Quincy Hayes, 32, who were placed on administrative leave, the Post’s Del Quentin Wilber reported. Both work at the D.C. Correction Treatment Facility, which is run by the Corrections Corporation of America.

Authorities also charged Renee Braxton, 44, a security guard at a museum, the Post reported.

The paper reported that an inmate tipped off the FBI to the contraband smuggling. Subsequently, an undercover FBI employee, posing as an inmate’s brother, “met with Braxton and Ford in 2008 and early this year and gave them several hundred dollars to smuggle a phone, an iPod and a charger to inmates at the CTF,” the Post reported.

Ex-U.S. Atty/Gov. Elect Chris Christie Subpoenaed in Trial of Right Wing NJ Shock Jock

Christopher Christie/campaign photo

Christopher Christie/campaign photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Now that the election is over, New Jersey’s Gov.-elect Christopher Christie doesn’t have to deal with this as a potential campaign issue.

Nonetheless, it’s probably a situation the former New Jersey U.S. Attorney would rather not deal with at all.

The Herald News reported that Christie, who stepped down as Newark’s U.S. Attorney late last year, was subpoenaed Tuesday to testify as a defense witness for Hal Turner, a New Jersey right-wing blogger, shock jock and ex-FBI informant former who is on federal trial in Brooklyn on charges of threatening the lives of appeals court judges in Chicago.

The paper reported that Turner’s defense attorney, Michael Orozco, said “he hopes to question Christie about whether federal prosecutors in Newark made a blanket decision not to file charges against Turner after previous threatening statements on the radio or on his blog.”

A Christie spokesman confirmed the existence of the subpoena, but did not comment further, the paper reported.

To Read More click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

No Shock: Mistrial Declared in 4th Trial of Mobster John Gotti Jr.

John "Junior" Gotti/youtube photo

John "Junior" Gotti/youtube photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It was hardly shocking.

Just like three times before, a federal judge in Manhattan on Tuesday declared a mistrial in John “Junior” Gotti’s  fourth racketeering trial.

The judge declared the mistrial after the jury remained deadlocked following 11 days of deliberations.

Turns out Gotti junior, the second generation mob boss, is even luckier than his pop, who was nicknamed “Teflon Don” because he was acquitted in three trials. But the father, unlike the son, was convicted in the fourth trial and went off to prison for life. He died behind bars in 2002 at age 61

Tueday’s declaration by U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel left Gotti and his family elated, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office scratching its head, wondering whether to take one more shot at trying to convict Gotti.

During trial, prosecutors accused Gotti, 45, of being a big-time mobster who was involved in two murders and drug trafficking.

“The inability of the jury to reach a verdict does not diminish the work of the many agents, prosecutors, and staff who showed unyielding dedication and resolve in the investigation and prosecution of this case,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement.

“We are evaluating how to proceed and , in the near future, will inform the Court and the defense of our decision,” he said.

Read more »

Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon Convicted of Taking Gift Cards

Sheila Dixon/state gov photo

Sheila Dixon/state gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Baltimore’s controversial Mayor Sheila Dixon was convicted Tuesday in state court of a misdemeanor for taking $630 in gift cards designated for the poor, the Baltimore Sun reported.

She was acquitted of the more serious felony counts of theft. Still, the conviction could force her from office, the Sun reported.

Dixon was accused of soliciting most of the cards from a wealthy developer and spending them at at Best Buy, Old Navy and Target.

To read more click here.

The Salahis Speak Out and Things Only Get More Confusing

Sahalis on the Today ShowBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The White House “CrashGate” scandal became all the more confusing after the Tareq and Michaele Salahi appeared on NBC’s  Today Show Tuesday morning and insisted they were invited to the party.

“We were invited, not crashers,” Michaele Salahi said. (see video below)

Appearing more the victims than the pranksters they’ve been portrayed as, the Salahis of suburban Washington said they were cooperating with Secret Service, and when it was appropriate, they would be able to prove they were invited and would be exonerated of any wrongdoing.

“We’re greatly saddened by all the circumstances … portraying my wife and I as party crashers. I can tell you we did not party-crash the White House,” Salahi said.

But the White House wasn’t buying their story and insisted there was no invite.

“This wasn’t a misunderstanding,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on the same show. “You don’t show up at the White House as a misunderstanding.”

The back and forth came after news reports only raised more questions about their attendance.

Read more »