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FBI

Mich. Boy Scout Camp Director Gets 95 Years for Child Porn

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A 40-year-old director of a Boy Scout camp in Western Michigan got socked on Friday with a 95-year prison term in Grand Rapids federal court for child pornography charges.

Specifically, Scott Allan Herrick surreptitiously videotaped boys as they were dressing in the locker room in the YMCA in Muskegon, and kept a massive collection of 100,000 images of child pornography with him at the Gerber Boy Scout Camp in Twin Lakes, Mich., federal authorities said.

On the first day of trial, Herrick pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.

U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney said at sentencing that that the sexual exploitation of children by using institutions like the Boy Scouts and the YMCA “tears at the social fabric of our country.”

Herrick was the camp director for Gerber Boy Scout Camp in Twin Lakes, Mich., and also worked as a pool safety instructor for third grade children at the YMCA in Muskegon.

Authorities said he was trading child pornography and was discovered during a series of undercover FBI operations. He was arrested July 8.

U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis echoed the judge’s concerns: “Herrick used and abused his position of trust in organizations dedicated to the health and welfare of children to satisfy his own perverse sexual interest in young boys.”

 

At FBI, Hope for Wounded Soldiers Returning Home

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It was an IED that did it for Povas Miknaitis.

After an initial deployment to Iraq in 2008, he was later sent to Afghanistan as a Marine rifleman. In Afghanistan, an IED blast sent shrapnel flying; some hit his arm and abdomen; larger pieces struck his face, shattering his jaw and blowing his right ear clean off of his head.

“Part of my mouth was missing,”  Miknaitis tells ticklethewire.com. “It just broke my jaw completely.”

It was in a hospital, recovering from the blast in 2009, that Miknaitis heard about an FBI training program for injured soldiers called Wounded Warriors. He began filling out paperwork and initiating the process of joining the bureau’s Wounded Warriors internship program. In 2011, when the program was launched, he landed a spot in a program that seems to be taking off.

So far, so good.

Of the 21 soldiers who have completed various internships, two have been hired full time; one as a clerk and another in IT. Another 43 are currently serving as interns, 78 are being processed and more are in line pending a funding evaluation, says FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson. Interns work in a variety of capacities, from logistics, intelligence, investigations to computer- and technology-focused jobs.

“Our goal is to give them working experience and the clearances they need,” to get back to work, says Thoreson. “We think this is a really wonderful program. It’s really helping people get their lives back.”

The San Diego field office, where Miknaitis interned, is among the few offices that are participating in the program. Others include the Washington Field Office, Sacramento, Charlotte and the FBI’s International Operations Division, Operational Technology Division, and Laboratory.

As expected, landing a spot with the FBI — even a temporary one — requires an intensive background check.

“This was not the same background check I went through for the military,” says Miknaitis. Agents called friends and family of his. “I had relatives calling me from Chicago asking if I was okay, saying the FBI had called asking questions about me,” he recollects.

Once Miknaitis was cleared, he began he began an internship researching cases for ongoing FBI investigations. “I was always interested in law enforcement,” he says, “and the internship program really let me learn a lot more about it. It got me employed while I was still recovering.”

Miknaitis still spends much of his time at a San Diego hospital. “It takes a while to go through the treatment, for the doctors to make sure they have done absolutely everything they can,” he says.

The program had its genesis in November of 2009, when president Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13518. That order focused on employing veterans in the federal government. The following July, president Obama signed Executive Order 13548, which focused on increasing the number of federal employee hires with disabilities.

As for Miknaitis, he’s grateful for the experience, but learned that the FBI might not be for him.

“I want to be able to go home and talk about my work,” he says, “not to have to say, ‘well, I really can’t talk about that honey, that’s classified information.”

After much physical therapy and plastic surgery, Miknaitis is doing well and poised to begin school in the fall, possibly for sports medicine, he says.

“I actually got pretty lucky,” he says. “If you saw my face and my body after the injury, you would not think I would have come out looking this good afterword.” He remains deaf in his right ear, but he and his doctors have spoken about cochlear implants in the future.

More than 47,000 soldiers have been injured in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

 

ICE: Federal Immigration Program to Become Mandatory by 2013

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Provisions which allowed local law enforcement officials more choices in complying with the federal Secure Communities immigration enforcement program will be “streamlined” or “eliminated,” bringing law enforcement groups in line with federal mandates, reports the LA Times.

The information-sharing program between the FBI and local law enforcement, which allows the FBI to share with ICE fingerprints collected from county jails, was implemented two years ago as a way to focus immigration enforcement on “serious convicted criminals,” according to the LA Times. However, it has come under fire as a large portion of the immigrants in the system were never convicted of crimes or were low-level offenders, the Times reported.

Dated Oct. 2, 2010 but only released recently, a 9-page letter from a legal advisor for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that “choices available to law enforcement agencies who have thus far decided to decline or limit their participation in current information-sharing processes will be streamlined and aspects eliminated. In that way, the process, in essence, becomes ‘mandatory’ in 2013.”

To read more click here.

Money Wasted in Cook County Police Program, Lawmakers Call for FBI Probe

Cook County Board Pres. Toni Preckwinkle

 
 By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Would you believe that federal money was wasted in Illinois’ Cook County, home of the city of Chicago?

A report by the Department of Homeland Security claims that millions of dollars may have been wasted on a troubled $44 million county program that put faulty cameras in police cars, reports the Chicago Tribune.

U.S. Sen.  Mark Kirk and and U.S. Rep Michael Quigley scheduled a press conference for later on Monday calling the FBI to investigate “potential criminal misuse of federal funds” on “equipment that does not perform as intended,” according to the Tribune.

Cook County officials ended “Project Shield” in June after a review by the County Board President Toni Preckwinkle found an “ill-conceived, poorly designed and badly executed program that put the lives of emergency responders in danger.” The $65,000 cameras the county had purchased for police not only didn’t work, according to the Tribune, but also obstructed the air bags in police cars, said Michael Masters, director of the county’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

To read more click here.

Sen. Schumer to DEA: Pharmacies Need More Protection

Alum Sen. Charles Schumer

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is concerned about American pharmacists. There have been about 1,800 pharmacy robberies in the past three years, he has said in calling for increased protection for pharmacists, reports UPI.

Schumer blames the robberies on the increased ability to obtain highly addictive pain medications like Oxycontin, and in a letter to the DEA has called for increased security infrastructure at pharmacies, local access to DEA data on pharmacy thefts and an increase in the maximum sentences for pharmacy related crimes–up to 20 years per offense, according to UPI.

“The guidelines and regulations issued by the DEA to pharmacists do not meet the challenges faced by 21st century pharmacies and do not fully protect pharmacists from the awful violence prescription drug addicts are willing to inflict in order to steal schedule II narcotics and should be updated to reflect this frightening new reality,” Schumer wrote in the letter to the agency.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST:

Book Review: Retired FBI Agent Writes About His Dealings with Mobster “Whitey” Bulger

By Pamela Reinsel Cotter
Associated Press

Retired FBI agent Robert Fitzpatrick tells his compelling story of trying to bring Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger to justice in “Betrayal,” written with Jon Land.

Fitzpatrick’s career was filled with multiple commendations and promotions, and when he transferred to Boston in the early 1980s with orders to “clean up the mess,” he jumped right in and asked to meet Bulger, a prized informant.

Fitzpatrick was shocked to discover Bulger acting like he was in charge. He tried to shut down Bulger’s FBI informant status and have him arrested for murder, but Bulger managed to stay one step ahead.

The book is available on Amazon.

To read more click here.

FBI Definition of Rape to Include Men for First Time

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

For 85 years, the official definition of rape did not include men.

That’s changing.

The FBI is changing that definition to include sexual assault of males, USA Today reports.

“Under the current definition, established 85 years ago, many of the sex crimes alleged in the ongoing prosecution of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky would not be counted in the bureau’s Uniform Crime Report, one of the most reliable measures of crime in the United States,” USA Today’s Kevin Johnson writes.

USA Today reports that the rape is currently defined as “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.”

To read more click here.

Mexcan Drug Lord Pleads Guilty in San Diego

Border fence along Juarez-El Paso border/istock photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The one-time Mexican leader of “one of the most notorious multi-national drug trafficking organizations to ever exist” pleaded guilty to a variety of charges in a federal court in San Diego on Wednesday, according to the FBI.

Benjamin Arellan-Felix was the leader of the Tijuana Cartel/Arellano-Felix Organization (AFO) from 1986 until his arrest in Mexico in 2002. He was extradited last April 29 from Mexico to the U.S.

The group controlled the flow of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs into the Unites States from the border towns of Tijuana and Mexicali, says the FBI, with operations extending south into Mexico and Colombia as well.

“The plea today marks the end of the Arellano-Felix drug trafficking organization as we know it,” said William R. Sherman, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the DEA in San Diego. The plea is the latest in a string of convictions against members of the AFO, including Arturo Paez-Martinez in 2002, Ismael and Gilberto Higuera-Guerrero in 2007, Javier Arellano-Felix in 2007 and Jesus Labra-Aviles in 2010.

“The AFO has been effectively dismantled and no longer poses the same threat to the people of the United States or Mexico,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Laura E. Duffy.