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Black Guerilla Family Gang Put on Legit Fronts; Feds Not Buying It

Not everyone in this dangerous gang had the public profile of a criminal. In fact, one ran a car detail shop. Another was an administrator for a management firm. Another was a mortgage broker and supposedly a law student. Reporter Van Smith of the Baltimore City Paper details how some gang members sought legitimacy in society, while in reality, the government said they were not so legit.

Some Suspected Members of the Black Guerilla Gang/photo Baltimore City Paper
Some Suspected Members of the Black Guerilla Gang including Avon Freeman (top left) /photo Baltimore City Paper

By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper
BALTIMORE — “I’m a responsible adult,” 41-year-old Avon Freeman says to Baltimore U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge James Bredar.

The gold on his teeth glimmers as he speaks, his weak chin holding up a soul patch. He’s a two-time drug felon facing a new federal drug indictment, brought by a grand jury in April as part of the two conspiracy cases conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Maryland involving the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) prison gang (“Guerrilla Warfare,” Mobtown Beat, April 22).

Now it’s July 27, and Freeman, standing tall in his maroon prison jumpsuit, believes himself to be a safe bet for release. He’s being detained, pending an as-yet unscheduled trial, at downtown Baltimore’s Supermax prison facility, where he says he fears for his safety.

For Full Story

Commentary: There’s No Other Way to Say It: Jefferson Was a Crook

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Like a run of the mill drug dealer, he hid cash in the freezer.

Like a run of the mill drug dealer, he used cryptic code words in conversations. In one instance, he used the words “African Art” when referring to a cash bribe to an African official.

Like a run of the mill drug dealer, he was paranoid about the FBI, and said so much during a meeting with rich Virginia investor/FBI informant Lori Mody, who just happened to be wearing an FBI wire.

Still, William J. Jefferson , a 9-term Congressman, was anything but a run of the mill criminal. He had a law degree from Harvard. He had an advanced tax degree from Georgetown . He had a sophisticated wife and well educated daughters. He was intelligent. Low key. He was thoughtful .

And he was more than just another Congressman to many of his constituents.

He was the first African American Congressman to be elected in Louisiana since Reconstruction.

“Since he’s been in office, he’s one of the few black officials who has been able to get in office and do something for the people,” a 58-year man old man told me down in New Orleans during Jefferson’s successful re-election campaign in 2006. Jefferson lost two years later.

On Wednesday, Jefferson was convicted of 11 of 16 counts of public corruption. The case centered on allegations that Jefferson took bribes in exchange for using his Congressional influence to promote businesses in Africa he or his family members had a hidden interest in.

He’ll be sentenced in October and you can be sure he’ll get some serious prison time. At 62, whatever it is, it’s likely to amount to a life sentence — or close to one.

Now, instead of being a stand up politician, instead of being someone people could rely on, Jefferson becomes another cliché in this town, a crooked politician, who came with ideals, who left with a criminal record — someone few outside his district knew of — that is until the FBI raided his home on Capitol Hill on Aug. 3, 2005, and found $90,000 in FBI marked bills that the rich Virginia woman/FBI informant Lori Mody gave him.

Read more »

Ex-Corp. Lobbyist Surfaces as Favorite to Fill U.S. Atty Post in Va.

With all the anti-lobbying talk during the 2008 presidential campaign, it’s interesting to note that the top contender for U.S. Attorney in Virginia is a former corporate lobbyist. Will his previous life as a lobbyist impact his performance as U.S. Attorney? Not likely. Could some perceive conflicts of interests, even if they’re not there? Very possible.

Ex-Lobbyist Neil MacBride

Ex-Lobbyist Neil MacBride

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer

A Justice Department official who briefly worked as a corporate lobbyist has emerged as the leading candidate for U.S. attorney in Alexandria, one of the nation’s most prominent law enforcement posts, sources familiar with the selection process said Wednesday.

Neil MacBride, who has been an associate deputy attorney general since January, is undergoing FBI background checks for the Alexandria job, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because no appointment has been announced.

MacBride, 43, is a former federal prosecutor and a former chief counsel to Vice President Biden, and he was a vice president at the Business Software Alliance, which represents Microsoft, IBM and several other leading computer companies. He was a registered lobbyist for that organization in 2007, lobbying the Senate on topics such as copyright enforcement and cybersecurity, according to Senate records and federal officials.

For Full Story

The Jury Has Spoken: William Jefferson Guilty of 11 of 16 Corruption Charges

As expected, ex-Rep. William Jefferson was convicted. The evidence was overwhelming and prosecutors portrayed Jefferson as a shakedown artist and major operator. He may be a nice guy, but he was a crooked politician.

William J. Jefferson

William J. Jefferson

By Bruce Alpert and Jonathan Tilove
The Times-Picayune

William Jefferson, the former Democratic congressman who served the New Orleans area for nine terms, was found guilty today of 11 of 16 corruption charges.

The jury of eight women and four men returned the verdict after five days of deliberation.
Jefferson was charged with soliciting bribes and other crimes for a series of schemes in which he helped American businesses broker deals in West African in exchange for payments or financial considerations to companies controlled by members of his family, including his brother Mose, his wife, Andrea, their five daughters and a son-in-law.

Jefferson faces sentencing Oct. 30 by Judge T.S. Ellis III, who earlier meted out stiff sentences for lesser figures in the case. According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Jefferson faced 235 years in prison if convicted on all counts. Chief prosecutor Mark Lytle said Jefferson could face more than 20 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.

With Jefferson, 62, facing what could be the equivalent of a life sentence, prosecutors asked Ellis to remand him to jail as a flight risk. But the judge allowed him to remain free pending his sentencing. A forfeiture hearing will be held Thursday to decide what assets Jefferson will have to surrender.

In a post-verdict news conference, Jefferson referred all questions to his attorney Robert Trout. When asked how he was holding up, the former congressman said, “I’m holding up.”

For Full Story

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Chicago School Board Pres. Scott Gets Grand Jury Subpoena

School board president Michael Scott will get an education on how a federal grand jury works. Most people would prefer to learn about grand juries from tv or newspapers rather than appearing before one.

chicagomap

BY FRAN SPELMAN
Chicago Sun-Times
CHICAGO — Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott disclosed Tuesday that he has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury investigating how students are chosen for admission to some of the city’s most elite public schools.

Scott said he was surprised by the subpoena and flatly denied that he has ever flexed his political muscle — during two stints as board president — to clout any student into a “selective enrollment” school.

Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott disclosed Tuesday that he’s been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury investigating how students are chosen for admission to some of the city’s most elite public schools.

“I followed all the procedures,” Scott said.

Asked whether he has ever made a call on behalf of someone else, Scott said, “Nope. Never.”

For Full Story

Homeland Security Predicts Major Flu Flare Up in Fall

fever?This is bound to be a scary flu season. Swine flu cases have been popping up this summer, but things should really pick up in the fall.

By Steve Sternberg
USA Today
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that pandemic flu probably will flare up soon after schools open in the fall, before vaccine is available.

Napolitano also acknowledged that there would not be enough pandemic flu vaccine for everyone, at least in the early stages of the flu season. “There will be prioritization of vaccinations,” she told members of the USA TODAY editorial board.

The flu strain causing the pandemic, a new H1N1 virus also known as swine flu, is especially dangerous because it differs from every other known flu virus. As a result, most people are defenseless against it. That makes a vaccine the keystone of any effort to prevent illness and save lives. The first batches of the vaccine are due in mid-October.

Napolitano said this year’s flu season probably will be severe but not as severe as the 1918 pandemic, the world’s worst.

Federal Grand Jury Zeroes in on New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin

Mayor Nagin/city photo
Mayor Nagin/city photo

Needless to say, New Orleans doesn’t need another scandal, particularly involving a high profile politician.

By David Hammer
New Orleans Times-Picayune
NEW ORLEANS –In the clearest sign to date that a federal grand jury is zeroing in on Mayor Ray Nagin, the U.S. attorney’s office issued subpoenas recently asking for the mayor’s missing e-mail messages and for others involving key players in the city’s crime-camera contracts.

The Louisiana Technology Council, a firm hired by the Nagin administration to determine what happened to the e-mail messages, said Tuesday that its subcontractors, after receiving a pair of subpoenas, turned over to the federal government some of the data it retrieved.

The issuance of the subpoenas was first disclosed in a civil lawsuit filed Monday by the city, which fired LTC last month, claiming it breached a confidentiality agreement. In response to the lawsuit, LTC released the subpoenas.

Christopher Reade of Carrollton Technology Partners, an LTC subcontractor, received a subpoena July 22 commanding him to testify before the grand jury on July 24 and demanding that he turn over “any and all recovered e-mails involving C. Ray Nagin, Gregory Meffert, Anthony Jones, Mark St. Pierre and/or Harrison Boyd from May 2002 to the present.”

For Full Story

Montreal Paper Calls U.S. Homeland Security Policy “Sureal”

Canada continues to express skepticism about U.S. Homeland Security. Here’s the latest shot.

Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano

By the Montreal Gazette
In this sad “security trumps trade” era of United States border protection, we in this corner have more than once used the word “paranoid” about certain government policies of our friends to the south. But the latest news from the frontier makes us seek even stronger language: “surreal” perhaps.

The New York Times reported last week that at the striking new border post at Massena N.Y. – just across from Cornwall, Ont. – workmen were removing from the exterior of the building the glossy, bright yellow, 6.4-metre-high letters that spell out “United States.” This identification of the country you’re entering is apparently a security risk.

The Times quotes a spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency: “There were security concerns. The sign could be a huge target and attract undue attention. Anything that would place our officers at risk we need to avoid.” Courageously, however, the post will continue to fly the U.S. flag.

Few Canadians will be surprised to learn that the border agency is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, whose leader, Secretary Janet Napolitano, thought the Sept. 11 terrorists had come through Canada. Now she seems determined to enroll her whole country in a witless protection program.

To Read More

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-FBI Translator Tests Justice Dept. Again (Spy Talk)