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Washington State Man Wanted to Blow Up Wal-Mart, Gas Stations to Distract from Bank Robberies

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A recently released inmate planned to blow up a Wal-Mart and several gas stations to distract from plans he had of robbing banks in Washington state.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer reports that suspect Larry Gillette, who was arrested Monday, is accused of revealing his plans to an undercover FBI agent, saying he wanted “carnage.”

During the sting, the 53-year-old tried to acquire four pistols and a bomb from the undercover agent in hopes of using them in Shelton.

“Gillette stated he wanted the targeted Walmart leveled, and intentionally wanted the explosives placed in areas which would prompt secondary explosions causing more damage,” an FBI agent said in court papers, recounting conversations between Gillette and the undercover police officers.

Chicago Bank Robber Handed More Than Cash, Helping Lead to His Arrest

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Chicago bank teller who was getting robbed gave up more than $1,700.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the bank employee also handed the robber a global-positioning system that helped the FBI and local police track him down.

The GPS device activated as soon as the robber left the bank, alerting authorities to the suspect’s every move.

When police tracked down 32-year-old Nathan A. Reed, they found $1,660 in cash, wrapped in a bank money band, and the GPS tracker.

He’s scheduled to appear in federal court on Friday.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Former FBI agent, Rep. Michael Grimm, faces federal charges, surrenders to FBI in New York

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, a former FBI agent, was indicted Monday on 20 counts of fraud and other charges in connection to a Manhattan restaurant he owned, Fox News reports.

The Republican from New York evading the IRS and hiding more than $1 million in profits to avoid paying taxes.

Grimm, who was released on a $400,000 bond, pleaded not guilty in a Brooklyn federal court following his arrest earlier in the day.

“Michael Grimm made the choice to go from upholding the law to breaking it,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said at a press conference detailing the charges. “And in doing so, he turned his back on every oath he had ever taken.”

Grimm responded that he’s the victim of a “political witch hunt.”

“We’re going to fight tooth and nail until I am fully exonerated,” Grimm said outside the courthouse, flanked by his attorneys.
Grimm was previously an FBI special agent and Marine Corps combat veteran.

The indictment accuses him of mail and wire fraud charges and filing false federal tax returns. According to the indictment, he tried to hide the sales at his Upper East Side restaurant, Healthalicious, which he operated from 2007 to 2010.

Man Who Impersonated DEA Agent to Impress at Nightclubs Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Benjamin William Mejias seemed to tell anyone who would listen that he was a DEA agent.

He even posted photos of himself on Facebook wearing a DEA insignia and carrying guns and was so brazen that he repeated his story to an Orlando cop while wearing a DEA uniform, a badge and pistol.

On Monday, he was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for what a judge called “stupid” behavior, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

His defense attorney, Mike LaFay, said Mejias did it to impress his wife and others at Orlando nightclubs.
Meijas apologized Monday: “I’m very shameful.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

New FBI Agents Will Be Required to Visit Martin Luther King Memorial

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

New FBI agents are already required to tour the Holocaust Museum.

FBI Director James Comey is adding another required visit in Washington D.C. – the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the USA Today reports.

“I think it will serve as a different kind of reminder — one more personal to the bureau — of the need for fidelity to the rule of law and the dangers in becoming untethered to oversight and accountability,” Comey said.

The move marks quite a departure from the bureau’s attitude toward King prior to his 1968 assassination.

The FBI conducted secret surveillance of the civil rights figure in an effort to discredit him.

The requirement to visit the Holocaust Museum has been in place since the late 1990s.

Comey said the MLK memorial tour will remind agents that “we will be judged not only on whether we succeed in defeating crime and terrorism, (but) on whether we do so while safeguarding the liberties for which we are fighting.”

Seattle Times: ATF Needs to Provide More Regulatory Oversight After Gun Shop Blunder

By Seattle Times
Editorial Board

Revelations about the sloppy, arrogant business practices of a nationally known Skagit County retailer with a lethal inventory are stunning.

To know that Kesselring Gun Shop had been arming generations with virtually no regulatory oversight, even after grotesque violations were discovered, made Seattle Times reporter Mike Carter’s story all the more shocking.

Nearly a decade ago, after more than a half-century in business, the gun shop received its first visit by inspectors with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

They discovered that nearly 2,400 assault-style rifles and handguns could not be accounted for. A seemingly incurious ATF did nothing for the next five years.

Incredibly, it took a nasty state workers’ compensation claim inside the family-owned business to provide any transparency about the pumping of thousands of lethal weapons into society.

As Carter pointed out, when the ATF finally made Kesselring a priority, inspectors spent four months compiling evidence of ATF violations “in virtually every aspect of the shop’s operation.”

The gun shop failed to have buyers provide key information on purchase forms. Instant background checks were not documented. Guns were sold to non-Washington residents. Multiple handgun sales to one person were not documented in a half-dozen cases.

The company surrendered its license last October. That leaves Washington with 1,093 firearms dealers.

To read more click here.

Parker: Supreme Court to Consider Warrantless Cell Phone Searches

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. 
 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The U. S. Supreme Court will hear argument today on two cases involving warrantless searches of cell phones. The case is probably the most important and most difficult 4th Amendment case of the term. Lower courts are split on the issue, and the number and tone of the appellate briefs in the cases illustrate the future ramifications of the case in the Cyber Age.

In U.S. v. Wurie the Court of Appeals threw out drug and firearm convictions for a defendant whose cell phone was searched incident to his arrest. The California Court of Appeals went the other direction in Riley v. California, upholding the police search of a man’s cell phone when he was arrested on firearms charges. The search produced data linking him to a gang shooting, and he was convicted of attempted murder.

Warrantless searches of all materials on the person of one lawfully arrested have traditionally been upheld without serious controversy. Isn’t the cell phone just a 21st Century version of a personal notebook or photo album? That is why many, perhaps most, commentators are predicting that the conservative majority of the Court will hand down a decision sometime before the end of the term in June which upholds the law enforcement position in these cases.

However, several factors seemingly unconnected to traditional 4th Amendment theory make this a much closer question. First, everyone including Supreme Court Justices has a cell phone and increasingly relies on it for a variety of purposes. Second, the latest cell phone technology has an ever-expanding capacity to store all kinds of private information. Finally, the Court has shown an increasing propensity to rein in law enforcement’s use of advanced technology. Thermal imaging, DNA, and transponders are a few of the techniques found to be “unreasonable searches” without prior judicial authorization. Traditionally conservative Justice Anton Scalia has surprised many by his views in this area.

Prediction: 5-4 vote requiring warrants for cell phone searches incident to arrests.

Column: The U.S. Government’s Hypocrisy When It Comes to Freedom of the Press

Reporter James Risen

By Trevor Timm
Freedom of the Press Foundation

The US State Department announced the launch of its third annual “Free the Press” campaign today, which will purportedly highlight “journalists or media outlets that are censored, attacked, threatened, or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting.” A noble mission for sure. But maybe they should kick off the campaign by criticizing their own Justice Department, which on the very same day, has asked the Supreme Court to help them force Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter James Risen into jail.

Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports that the Justice Department filed a legal brief today urging the Supreme Court to reject Risen’s petition to hear his reporter’s privilege case, in which the Fourth Circuit ruled earlier this year that James Risen (and all journalists) can be forced to testify against their sources without any regard to the confidentiality required by their profession. This flies in the face of common law precedent all over the country, as well as the clear district court reasoning in Risen’s case in 2012. (The government’s Supreme Court brief can be read here.)

Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee commendably grilled the State Department spokesman about the contradiction of its press freedom campaign and the James Risen case at today’s briefing on the State Department initiative, repeatedly asking if the government considers press freedom issues in the United States the same way it does abroad. The full transcript is below.

As Gerstein noted, “The Justice Department brief is unflinchingly hostile to the idea of the Supreme Court creating or finding protections for journalists,” and if the Justice Department succeeds “it could place President Barack Obama in the awkward position of presiding over the jailing of a journalist in an administration the president has vowed to make the most transparent in history.”

To read full column click here.