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South Carolina Councilman Busted For Computer Spying

Tony Trout/official photo

Tony Trout/official photo

Some people are computer illiterate. Not Councilman Tony Trout, unfortunately.

By Ben Szobody
The Greenville News
GREENVILLE, S.C. — County Councilman Tony Trout was charged in a five-count indictment Wednesday with unlawfully accessing computers used by the county administrator and Yahoo, destroying records and intercepting and disclosing electronic communication, charges that could bring a maximum of 36 years in prison and $1.1 million in fines if he is convicted.
Gov. Mark Sanford intends to suspend Trout from office Thursday and will explore appointing Joe Baldwin, the man who defeated Trout in the Republican primary, to the seat early, said spokesman Joel Sawyer.
U.S. Magistrate William Catoe appointed public defender Benjamin Stepp as a “standby counsel” Wednesday to advise Trout on legal and procedural issues. Stepp told The Greenville News that usually means a defendant wants to do all the talking in court.
Stepp declined to comment about the indictment because he said he technically isn’t Trout’s lawyer. Attempts to reach Trout were unsuccessful. Trout’s previous attorney, Ernest Hamilton, was terminated Wednesday, according to court documents.
For Full Story

Read FBI Affidavit For Search Warrant

Read Search Warrant Return

Passengers Will Have To Disclose More Info To Fly

These days the friendly skies are getting a little less friendly and little more intrusive. Will less privacy mean safer skies?

Sec. Michael Chertoff At Press Conference/dhs photo

Sec. Michael Chertoff At Press Conference/dhs photo

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Department of Homeland Security will take responsibility from airlines for checking passenger names against watch lists beginning in January and will require all commercial passengers for the first time to provide their full name, date of birth and gender as a condition of boarding a flight, U.S. officials said today.
The changes will be phased in next year for the 2 million passengers each day aboard domestic and international flights to, from or over the United States. It marks the Bush administration’s long-delayed fulfillment of a top aviation security priority identified after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, an effort that has long spurred privacy concerns.
Speaking at Reagan National Airport, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Transportation Security Administration chief Kip Hawley said that by gathering more personal information from passengers, the government will dramatically cut down on instances of mistaken identity that have wrongly delayed travelers or kept them off flights.
For Full Story

Read Department Of Homeland Security Press Release

Illinois Couple Killed After Agreeing To Cooperate With FBI

East St. Louis/city photo

East St. Louis/city photo

Coincidence or Not? A couple was shot to death after agreeing to cooperate in an FBI probe of a farmer.

By Jim Suhr
The Associated Press
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — A couple who helped a farmer hide a tractor from his creditors were found shot to death at their rural home just two days after they had agreed to talk to FBI agents investigating his bankruptcy, federal prosecutors say.
No one has been charged in the April 2007 deaths of George and Linda Weedon, whose bodies were found by firefighters responding to a fire at their home near Keyesport, a lakeside resort village about 60 miles east of St. Louis.
George Weedon had told an FBI agent he would cooperate with their investigation of farmer Joseph Diekemper, but feared Diekemper would burn down his house if he found out, according to documents filed in the case Monday.
Diekemper and his wife were charged in June with bankruptcy fraud. Prosecutors allege they hid valuable farm equipment at various places, including a tractor found behind a fake wall of a barn on the Weedons’ property.
For Full Story

Men In Ft. Dix Terrorist Case Bought Assault Weapons

Defendants in the Ft. Dix terrorism case were caught buying weapons from an FBI informant. Were they terrorists or just wannabes?

wcbstv.com photo

wcbstv.com photo

By JASON NARK
Philadelphia Daily News
CAMDEN, N.J. –Moments before an FBI SWAT team kicked in his door, the government’s top informant in the Fort Dix terrorism case dropped a little irony on two men he had just set up.
“I don’t trust anybody,” Mahmoud Omar said to brothers Shain and Dritan Duka before the FBI arrested the Dukas last year.
According to a video played in U.S. District Court in Camden yesterday, the brothers were inside the apartment to purchase weapons – four M-16 and three AK-47 assault rifles – from Omar, an Egyptian national and paid government informant who received the neutered weapons from the FBI.
Yesterday, the seven assault rifles, along with four other weapons that the defendants owned, sat on a table inside the courtroom a few feet away from the jury.
The government alleges that the weapons were a key component in a terrorist plot to attack and kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey. They allege that the men were inspired by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to defend Islam and start a holy war in the United States.
For Full Story

See Daily Transcript Of The Trial and Videos

ATF Probe Leads To Mass Arrests Of Bikers In Six States

An undercover ATF investigation  may spell the demise of the Mongols, a Southern-California based biker gang accused of everything from hate crimes to murder. In many circles, it’s a resume only a mother could love. Agents began rounding up the indicted suspects Tuesday.

By Scott Glover
Los Angeles Times
More than 1,000 heavily armed federal agents and local police fanned out across Southern California and cities in five other states early this morning, arresting dozens of members of the notorious Mongols motorcycle gang on federal racketeering charges.
But the most lasting blow to the San Gabriel Valley-based bikers may be down the road: In an unusual maneuver, the feds are also seeking to seize control of the Mongols’ trademarked name, which is typically accompanied by its cherished insignia — a ponytailed Genghis Khan-like figure riding a chopper.
U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien said if his plan is successful, the government would take over ownership of the trademark, and anyone caught wearing a Mongols patch could have it seized by law enforcement on the spot.
“Not only are we going after the Mongols’ motorcycles, we’re going after their very identity,” O’Brien said in a telephone interview early this morning. “We are using all the tools at our disposal to crush this violent gang.”

For Full Story

Read Indictment

“Die Hard” Director Gets Break In Lie to FBI

In Hollywood, people are always re-writing the endings.  Well, the U.S. Court of Appeals has given  “Die Hard” director  John McTiernanan  the  opportunity to re-write his ending after he pleaded guilty to lying to an FBI agent in the infamous Pellicano wiretap scandal.

John McTiernan/photo flixster

John McTiernan/photo flixster

By Victoria Kim
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — A Hollywood director who pleaded guilty in 2006 to lying to the FBI about his dealings with convicted private eye Anthony Pellicano may be entitled to withdraw his plea, an appeals court ruled today.
“Die Hard” and “Predator” director John McTiernan had argued he would not have admitted to the charge, for which he was sentenced to four months in prison, if his attorney at the time had given him better legal advice. Last year, a judge denied his motion to withdraw his plea.
The action-flick director was one of seven people who pleaded guilty to charges connected to Pellicano’s wiretapping and racketeering enterprise before the case went to trial.
McTiernan, 57, admitted to paying Pellicano to wiretap film producer Charles Roven after they had worked on the 2002 film “Rollerball,” and to misleading an FBI agent who interviewed him over the phone.
For Full Story

Finally: Sen. Stevens Case Goes To Jurors Today

After a bumpy trial, jurors get to have their say. Sen. Stevens is crossing his fingers, hoping for an acquittal and an opportunity to hit the campaign trail before Nov. 4.

Sen. Stevens/official photo

Sen. Stevens/official photo

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — A federal jury today will begin deliberating two conflicting views of Sen. Ted Stevens, the powerful Alaska Republican charged with lying on financial disclosure forms to hide more than $250,000 in gifts and renovations to the Alaska house he affectionately calls his “chalet.”
Closing Arguments Beginning in Stevens’ Trial
Defense lawyers, backed by a string of character witnesses, have portrayed Stevens, 84, as an honest public servant who conscientiously paid his bills, never lied on the forms and is the victim of overzealous authorities.
Prosecutors have argued that the senator is a miser who went to extraordinary lengths to hide free remodeling work financed by Veco, a now-defunct Alaska oil services company, and its top executive.
For Full Story

UPDATE – (Wednesday: 6 p.m.) — The first day of deliberations ended without a verdict. Jurors will return Thursday for further deliberations.

Fed Judge In Philly Asks Whether White Student Got Preferential Treatment

In the city of brotherly love, a federal judge suggests race may have been a consideration in a potential child pornography case involving a white Ivy League student.

Judge Michael M. Baylson/penn law school photo

Judge Michael M. Baylson/penn law school photo

Maryclaire Dale
The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA – A federal judge questioned Tuesday why a white Ivy League student found with thousands of images of child pornography during a computer hacking probe was not charged with that crime, and was spared the decade-long sentence looming over a black convicted child pornographer at the same hearing.
University of Pennsylvania senior Ryan Goldstein, 22, of Ambler, will spend three months in prison and five years on federal probation for a hacking scheme that caused a Penn engineering server to crash in 2006.
Goldstein pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and worked long hours helping the FBI investigate a worldwide hacking enterprise, lawyers on both sides agreed.
But even as he was cooperating, Goldstein twice engaged in unspecified mischief with FBI computers, causing investigators to fall short of their ultimate goal, U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson said.
“It was very detrimental to the investigation,” said Baylson, who heard details of the misconduct behind closed doors at the start of Tuesday’s sentencing hearing. “It’s very disturbing.”

For Full Story