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FBI Special Agent Died of Rare Type of Cancer at Age of 65

fbigunbadgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Special Agent Mark C. Johnston, who was one of the first law enforcement officials to respond to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack at the World Trade Center, has died of a rare type of cancer.

Johnston was 65.

At the FBI, Johnston also played a role in the TWA 800 flight disaster, the aftermath of Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, the Press of Atlantic City reports

“He had integrity beyond question and was humble to a fault,” Dennis McKelvey, a prosecutor who worked on joint investigations with Johnson, said.

Johnston was the author of the 2015 book “FBI & an Ordinary Guy, the Private Price of Public Services.”

“As an FBI agent in New York and other large American cities, we faced outlaw motorcycle gangs, the Mafia, drug kingpins, terrorists and land pirates,” the book’s description said. “The public knows little about the stress and high emotional costs the guardians of their safety pay in the constant battle against crime and terror.”

The Press of Atlantic City wrote:

During Johnston’s FBI tenure, he was the program manager for its employee assistance program.

Fellow FBI Special Agent Jessica Weisman said Johnston was loyal to his country, caring, compassionate and a dedicated family man. Weisman said he put in at least 20 years of service to the FBI.

“He was very committed and got very involved with the employee assistance program for many years,” Weisman said. “He was a very hardworking Special Agent for the FBI.”

Since Johnston’s retirement from the FBI, he served as program manager for police in-service training at the Atlantic County Police Academy.

Johnston also served with the Concerns of Police Survivors, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and a volunteer with the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He helped found the local Beach Plum Association and was a counselor for Trinity Hospice’s Camp Lost & Found.

Special Counsel’s Search Warrant Could Mark Turning Point in Russia Probe

Special counsel Robert Mueller Mueller.

Special counsel Robert Mueller Mueller.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s search warrant for information related to Facebook accounts of suspected Russian operatives trying to meddle in the 2016 presidential election could be a turning point in the investigation.

Before news broke of the warrant, “it appeared that Mueller was focused on several discrete areas of inquiry, such as potentially false disclosures by former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, potential tax charges and alleged obstruction of justice related to President Donald Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey,” former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote for Newsweek

Mariotti said his main changed after reading news about the warrant.

“The importance of that development cannot be overstated,” Mariotti wrote. “It means that Mueller presented evidence to a federal magistrate judge who concluded there was good reason to believe that foreign individuals committed a crime by making a ‘contribution’ in connection with the election and that evidence of such a crime existed on Facebook.”

Border Patrol to Test New, Smaller Drones at Tucson Sector

Drone via CBP.

Drone via CBP.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Border Patrol hopes to add smaller drones to its surveillance arsenal and will begin testing the unmanned aircraft this month in the Tucson sector, Tucson.com reports

The agency uses bigger drones, but Border Patrol is looking for something that is small enough to easily transport and fly in hard-to-access areas.

Agents will test three series of drones: Puma, Raven and InstantEye Quadcopter.

The drones may also include sensors, infrared cameras and facial-recognition technology. 

Other Stories of Interest

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Cali Drug Cartel

Pennsylvania Cop Convicted of Stealing Money from FBI Sting Operation

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Pennsylvania cop who stole money from a drug dealer and an FBI sting operation was convicted of theft and other charges Thursday.

After less than three hours of deliberation, the jury came back with a guilty verdict on charges of theft, record tampering and lying to federal investigators, PennLive reports.  

Fairview Township Police Officer Tyson Baker, 43, faces up prison time when he’s sentenced at a later date.

Baker was arrested after prosecutors said he stole $2,000 from a drug dealer in November 2015 and $3,000 from an FBI sting operation a month later.

FBI Agent: Driver Won’t Be Charged with Domestic Terrorism in Death of Protester

James Fields is accused of driving into a group of anti-racists, killing one person and injuring many more.

James Fields is accused of driving into a group of anti-racists, killing one person and injuring many more.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent said the Ohio man who plowed into protesters in Charlottesville, Va., will not face domestic terrorism charges because federal law does not outline penalties.

Special Agent Thomas F. O’Connor made the statement in an op-ed piece published Thursday by the Hill, saying Congress should change the statute to give it some teeth.

“Congress should amend the U.S. Code to make domestic terrorism a crime subject to specific penalties that apply irrespective of the weapon or target involved in the crime,” O’Connor wrote. “Specifically, this legislation should make it a crime for a person to commit, attempt, or conspire to commit an act of violence intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence government policy or conduct.” 

O’Connor was not speaking on behalf of the investigation of James Alex Fields Jr., who faces life in prison on a state charge of second-degree murder. Police said he intentionally plowed into protesters during an anti-racism rally on Aug. 12, killing 32-year-old Heather D. Heyer.

Hillary Clinton Says She’s Unsure If She Would Have Kept Comey If She Won

Hillary ClintonBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Hillary Clinton said Thursday she’s unsure whether she would have kept former FBI Director James Comey if she won the 2016 presidential election. 

“If you were president today, would he still be FBI director?”  MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked.

“That’s a really good question,” Clinton said. “I don’t know the answer to that, because once I wasn’t president I didn’t think about it. I didn’t analyze it at all, so, I don’t really know.”

Clinton, who has been doing interviews to promote her book, What Happened, partly blamed Comey for her loss.

Comey announced close to the election that the FBI was reopening its email server case against Clinton.

Rep. McCaul Among Top Contenders for Homeland Security Director Job

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, who was considered by the Trump administration as a contender for Homeland Security director, is now “high on the list” to replace John Kelly, MyStatesman.com reports

McCaul, 55, who is a seven-term Republican from Texas and a former prosecutor, declined to comment when asked about the position.

But U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told the Statesman, “I think he’s talking to the White House. … He’s a good man. We go way back. I have a lot of confidence in him.”

But McCaul has some critics. Some conservatives, including Breitbart, don’t believe McCaul is tough enough on immigration.