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May 2021


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Madoff Investor Drowned in His Palm Beach Pool After Heart Attack


By Allan Lengel

The first thought some people had was that Jeffry Picower, the Florida man accused of making more than $7 billion from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, had committed suicide on Sunday at his palatial oceanside home.

Not so, says the the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner Michael Bell who ruled that Picower, 67, suffered a heart attack in his pool and drowned, according to the Associated Press.

His wife Barabara found him in the pool, and according to the Associated Press, called 911 and said:

“He’s at the bottom of the pool. It’s too deep. I can’t get him out. He must have collapsed … I can’t get him out … I don’t know how long he’s been there.”


Atty. Gen. Holder Appoints 9 U.S. Attorneys to His Advisory Board

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder/doj photo

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON — Atty. General Eric Holder has appointed nine new U.S. Attorneys to serve two-year terms on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys.

The committee, created in 1973, will report to Holder through the deputy Attorney General. The panel speaks on behalf of the U.S. Attorneys and provides input on policy and operational issues that impact U.S. Attorneys around the country, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

The new attorneys, according to a press release issued Monday include: U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara; U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Dennis Burke; U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Jenny Durkan; U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul J. Fishman; U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick J. Fitzgerald; U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride; U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Peter F. Neronha; U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Joyce White Vance; and Acting U.S. Attorney, ex officio, for the District of Columbia Channing D. Phillips.

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DEA Internal Memo Identifies 3 Agents Killed in Afghanistan Helicopter Crash

Michael E. Weston/dea photo

Michael E. Weston/dea photo

Chad L. Michael/dea photo

Chad L. Michael/dea photo

By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON — A DEA internal memo has identified the names of three agents who were killed in Afghanistan Monday in a helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of seven U.S. Service members.

The helicopter had just taken off from a drug raid and battle with the Taliban. But there was no sign of an enemy attack in that incident or another crash that day involving two helicopters that crashed and claimed the lives of four U.S. troops, according to media reports. The cause of the crashes are under investigation.

Forest N. Leamon/dea photo

Forest N. Leamon/dea photo

The names and bios of the three dead agents are as follows, according to the a Drug Enforcement Administration memo:

Special Agent Forrest N. Leamon. SA Leamon became a Special Agent in 2002. He served at the Washington Field Division and in the El Paso Field Division until 2007, when he joined the FAST team (Foreign-deployed Advisory and Support Teams) in Afghanistan. He lived in Woodbridge, Va and was 37 years old. He is survived by his wife and their unborn child.”

Special Agent Chad L. Michael. SA Michael graduated from basic training in March 2004. He began his career with DEA in the Miami Field Division, and left there to join the FAST team in Afghanistan in August of this year. He lived in Quantico, Va. and was 30 years old.”

Special Agent Michael E. Weston. SA Weston has been a Special Agent with DEA since 2003. He was assigned to the Richmond, Virginia District Office until joining the Kabul Country Office in August of this year. He lived in Washington, D.C. and was 37 years old. He is survived by his wife.”

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FBI Rescues 52 kids from Prostitution and Arrests 60 Pimps


By Caitlin Osborne
WASHINGTON — The FBI announced Monday that it had rescued 52 children involved in underage prostitution over the past three days and arrested nearly 700 people including 60 pimps.

Dubbed “Operation Cross Country IV”, the FBI said it teamed up with local and state police law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to save the children.

“It is repugnant that children in these times could be subjected to the great pain, suffering and indignity of being forced into sexual slavery for someone else’s profit,” Assist. Atty. Gen. Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division said in a statement.

The operation, part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, targeted truck stops, casinos, websites and “street tracks” in 36 cities around the country. Street tracks are locations where the children are merchandised and offered to customers.

The Lost National Initiative was formed in 2003 by the FBI, NCMEC and Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenities Section.

Since then, nearly 900 kids have been rescued, and more than 500 pimps have been prosecuted, according to Ernie Allen, President and CEO of NCMEC.

“We are honored to be the FBI’s partner in this effort,” he added. “I truly believe that what they are doing is historic.”

Allen said this marks the first time in American history that federal leadership has taken on such a predominant role in ending child prostitution.

NCMEC estimates that over 100,000 children in the U.S. are victims of sexual trafficking.

FBI Agent Mike Kortan is new Chief FBI Spokesman- Replacing John Miller

Michael Kortan (left) talking to ex-FBI Dir. Louis Freeh in 2008/fbi photo
Michael Kortan (left) talking to ex-FBI Dir. Louis Freeh in 2008/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON — Agent Michael P. Kortan, the number two person in the FBI office of public affairs at headquarters, is replacing John Miller as the chief FBI press spokesman.

Miller announced his resignation in August and recently left to become assistant deputy director of intelligence analysis for the Office of Director of National Intelligence.

Kortan, a veteran of the press office, who last held the title of Deputy Director of Public Affairs, now assumes the title of Assistant Director for the Office of Public Affairs.

Inspector Gen. Report Says FBI Still Not Reviewing All Material in Counterterrorism Case

Page from old arabic book

By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON — The FBI is still not reviewing millions of electronic files and thousands of hours of wiretapped conversations collected in counterterrorism cases, and needs to hire more translators, according to a report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General released Monday.

The report by Inspector General Glenn Fine, also noted that the “FBI cannot accurately determine the amount of foreign language material it collects and reviews because it lacks a consolidated collection and statistical reporting system.”

The report concluded that “not reviewing such material increases the risk that the FBI will not detect information in its possession that may be important to its counterterrorism and counterintelligence efforts.”

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3 DEA Agents Among 10 Dead in Afghan Helicopter Crash

afghanistanBy Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON — Three DEA agents were among 10 Americans killed Monday in a helicopter crash in the western part of Afghanistan, authorities said.

The Associated Press reported that the agents were in a a helicopter that went down after leaving a firefight. Seven U.S. service members were also killed. Additionally, 11 American service members, one U.S. civilian and 14 Afghans were injured.

In another incident Monday, two U.S. Marine helicopters – one UH-1 and an AH-1 Cobra – collided in in the southern province of Helmand, killing four American troops and wounding two more, the AP reported.

Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium, which is the key ingredient in heroin. Authorities say the Tabliban has been trafficking in opium to help finance operations.

A DEA spokesman said Monday afternoon that the agency was not commenting.

Read N.Y. Times Story

Worlds Colliding for N.Y. Fed Prosecutor — Thanks to Dad and Bernie Madoff

In the Seinfeldian world, George Costanza complained of “worlds colliding” when his girlfriend started hanging out with Elaine. In N.Y., Richard Zabel, chief of the criminal division for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has seen worlds collide with his father over a case tied to Bernie Madoff.  It has created a sticky situation for his office. Here’s the details.

George Costanza complained about "worlds colliding". Prosecutor Richard Zabel has the same problem.

George Costanza complained about “worlds colliding”. Prosecutor Richard Zabel has the same problem.

By Mary Jacoby
Main Justice
WASHINGTON — Two weeks ago Richard Zabel, the new criminal chief of the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s office, recused himself from the Bernard Madoff investigation because his father represented an investor accused of being the biggest beneficiary of the $65 billion fraud.

On Sunday, William D. Zabel’s client was found dead at the bottom of his pool at his mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. The Palm Beach Police Department said it was conducting an investigation of the death of investor Jeffry Picower, who was 67, as is “standard operating procedure in any drowning.”

The sudden death of this alleged key figure in the Madoff scheme underscores some potentially thorny management issues for the new U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara. Bharara named Zabel his criminal chief on Oct. 6, calling the former Akin Gump criminal defense attorney a “legal All-Star.” Zabel also served eight years as an SDNY prosecutor in the 1990s.

Although Bharara’s pick for criminal chief quickly recused himself from all Madoff-related matters, line prosecutors now may have little choice but to attempt to seek information from his father, insofar as attorney-client privilege allows.

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