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State Rep. Accepts Lobbyist Cash, Pleads Guilty

Terry Spicer

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A former state representative in Alabama  pleaded guilty Tuesday to accepting cash, gifts and campaign money from a businessman and a lobbyist in exchange for political favors, the Justice Department said.

Terry Spicer,  46, who had been cooperating with the government long before 11 arrests were made in a  vote-buying investigation involving the the Alabama Legislature, admitted to accepting monthly cash payments from lobbyists, gifts of ski trips to Breckenridge, Colo.

Authorities said that from 2006 to 2010, Spicer accepted bribes from Jarrod Massey, a former lobbyist in Montgomery, Ala., and his client, businessman Ronnie Gilley.

Spicer admitted receiving cash, campaign services and a ski vacation from Massey in exchange for Spicer using his official position to obtain lobbying business for Massey.

Spicer also admitted that he accepted campaign contributions and entertainment concert tickets from businessman Gilley in return for Spicer’s official assistance in favor of Gilley’s business projects and interests, the Justice Department said.

Both Massey and Gilley have pleaded guilty to paying and offering bribes to Spicer and other legislators.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

A Letter to My Son on Moral Decisions in Light of Penn State

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Dear Son,

As your enthusiasm builds for leaving home and going off to college in a few months, I want to talk with you about having to make on-the-spot moral, legal, and social decisions when you are on your own.

As you know, the news has been filled with reports and commentary about the alleged incidents at Penn State involving former Defensive Coach Jerry Sandusky sexually molesting disadvantaged young boys who participated in his charity. He has denied the charges in the indictment, and due process of law will determine his guilt or innocence.

Up for discussion in the unforgiving public forum are the actions of Assistant Coach Mike McQueary who, on March 1, 2002 at 9:30 p.m., while he was a grad assistant entered the practice facility to obtain some video tapes to review. He heard noises from the shower area and went to investigate. According to reports of his grand jury testimony, he was “distraught” when he saw Sandusky raping a ten-year old boy.

It is unclear what happened next. McQueary apparently made no mention in the grand jury about intervening to save the child, but in the last couple days he has hinted that he forced Sandusky to stop. He then called his father, with whom he had a close relationship, for advice on what to do next. Then he contacted Coach Joe Paterno and reported the incident. Later he also told two other Athletic Department officials. These three, however, say that his report was not detailed enough to cause them to take further action of some kind.

It is clear that no one reported the crime to the police or to Child Protective Services. Allegedly Sandusky’s access to the children and the Penn State facilities was not restricted, and he inflicted other such assaults on children during the nine years that have followed. Both Paterno and McQueary continued to publicly support Sandusky’s charitable activities.

The public reaction to McQueary and Paterno has ranged from commendation to vilification. Paterno, probably the most revered football coach in America, was summarily fired and McQueary, perhaps because of his legal protection as a whistleblower, has been placed on paid administrative leave. Probably neither will have any connection to college football again.

The issue worth thinking about is whether McQueary’s response, whatever it was, presents a moral and legal lesson for the rest of us. In my generation a woman named Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death in New York’s Central Park while dozens failed to take action when they heard her cries for help. Social psychologists have labeled the phenomenon diffusion of responsibility or bystander effect, but the bottom line is that, when confronted with a moral imperative, people who could have saved her life failed to act.

McQueary has been showered with the moral opprobrium of the commentators who have assumed he failed to stop the assault. They have hastened to assure their listeners that they would have assuredly stepped up stopped the violence and called the cops. Jane Turner, an FBI psychological profiler who specializes in child sex crimes, however has indicated that in her experience most people would have walked away as McQueary is alleged to have done. Turner said:

“It takes enormous strength to put one’s moral integrity over your personal inclination to protect fellow colleagues who have committed malfeasance, or criminal activity. The FBI, like Penn State and the Catholic Church, are entities that allows their personnel to report allegations up a chain of command but those in positions of power or change, fail to take immediate or strong actions. It simply boils down to the fact that those in power have a stronger desire to preserve the reputation of their institution, than taking the road of truth or justice. Entities like Penn State, the Catholic Church and the FBI all share something in common; they operate in an insular world where rules or laws that apply to everyone else, do not apply to them.”

Early in my career as a prosecutor, my boss Len Gilman made it clear to us that our job was to do what was right even if we as individuals or our office had to pay the price of being embarrassed or worse. And a couple times we were.

Assume for the sake of this letter that Mike McQueary is neither a hero nor a villain but just a guy who hesitated, as a majority of others would have in 2002, when suddenly confronted with a terrible moral issue. Just a guy who knew that the price to be paid for more aggressive action would be to jeopardize the head coach he idolized, the powerful institution and football program to which he was so loyal, and the future he wanted so badly.

So he called his dad for guidance, then Joe Pa. And that apparently was it, for nine years, until it hit the fan, as it seems with increasing frequency to do. If we have learned nothing else from the massive tragedy that has so damaged the Catholic Church, it is that doing nothing, protecting people and institutions that seem so invulnerable at the time, will usually be disastrous for everyone concerned. And now a legend will die, a great university tarnished for a generation and saddled with millions of dollars of civil settlements, and an apparently otherwise fine young man’s dreams dashed forever. Worst of all, boys who had tough enough lives already were damaged by a man who should have been isolated so he couldn’t harm others.

Son, I hope you always have the luxury of time for meditation and parental guidance before you have to act on a moral issue. But if you don’t, consider this your father’s advice.

Demonstrate the courage I know you have to step up, do what is right, protect the vulnerable, call the police and support them in any way they ask. If there is a price to pay, we will share it together and you will be compensated by the respect of your family and friends.

Oh, and call your mother once in a while.

Dad

Response

 Charles Lutz is a retired DEA agent and Penn State University alum. His column is in response to a ticklethewire.com column by Ross Parker’s entitled: A Letter to My Son on Moral Decisions in Light of Penn State.
 
By Charles Lutz
For ticklethewire.com

 While I don’t disagree with Ross Parker’s advice to his son to always try to do the “right thing,” he has misstated the facts in making his case in his column “A letter to my Son on Moral Decisions in the Light of Penn State.”

For example, he says that once Joe Paterno, Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior Vice President Gary Schultz learned of the alleged allegation by Graduate Assistant Mike McQueary that the three took no further action of any kind, and that Sandusky’s access to the children and the Penn State facilities were not restricted. That’s simply not true.

According to the Grand Jury Presentment, when Paterno learned of the incident from McQueary he reported it to his superiors, one of whom was in charge of the police department, which had jurisdiction for all crimes on campus. And when Curley and Shultz learned of the incident they banned Sandusky from bringing children into the locker room facilities, and reported the allegation to the Executive Director of Sandusky’s former charity, the Second Mile. It would have been fair for Ross to have said that he didn’t think what had been done was enough. But what was done was done was certainly more than nothing.

Further, Ross unfairly, in my opinion, accuses McQueary of doing nothing for nine years after making his report to Paterno, Curley and Schultz. But according to the Grand Jury Presentment, McQueary was informed of the actions taken against Sandusky, and that they had been approved by University President Graham Spanier. When McQueary was asked on the stand (at the preliminary hearing for the perjury charges against Curley and Schultz) why he didn’t go to the police, he said, “I thought I did (referring to Schultz).” I’m not sure what else a Graduate Assistant could have done.

Ross is quick to conclude, on his mistaken premise that Paterno, Curley and Schultz did nothing, that Sandusky was free to molest other children. But he fails to mention that during the more than two-year Grand Jury investigation of this allegation, these same facts, and allegations made by many other children, were well known to the Pennsylvania Attorney General (newly elected Governor), and the Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police, and that they did nothing to intervene on behalf of the children.

They could have indicted Sandusky on one felony count, exposed him, asked for legal restrictions on his activities with children, and superseded the indictment with the additional counts. But they chose not to do so. While they were quick to point the moral finger at Penn State officials, where were their moral compasses pointed? Perhaps Corbett didn’t want to rock the boat while he was running for Governor(?).

Parker’s Response

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. He is a regular columnist for ticklethewire.com.

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The fact is that exactly who did what and when in this alleged tragedy are hotly disputed subjects which will presumably be sorted out in court in the months ahead.

Neither of us were witnesses so each of us has relied on someone’s version. However, from what I can determine, the column’s assertion is accurate that Sandusky’s access was not restricted to children or to University facilities—except that about a month after the incident his keys to the locker room were taken away.

Coach Paterno did report to the appropriate officials two days after the incident. McQueary did report, in some fashion, to Coach Paterno and then to the Athletic Director and the Vice President for Finance and Business (who also oversaw the campus police), about ten days later when he was called to a meeting with them. Second Mile officials were told something about the incident, but Sandusky continued to be active in the organizationfor eight years.

If my brief and general rendition of the facts is unduly hard on the two coaches, who at least did do something, however limited, then I appreciate former Special Agent Lutz’s corrections of the record. But on the fundamental moral issue, the point is that, although everyone had to know that Sandusky continued to be actively involved with children, coaching, Second Mile activities, etc., no one acted to intervene beyond those initial discussions.

According to the Grand Jury Presentment, no one notified the University Police, the city or state police, or Child Protective Services. No one tried to protect or even identify the alleged child victim or to determine if there were others in need of counseling or protection.

 

Ex-Fed Prosecutor: A Letter to My Son on Moral Decisions in Light of Penn State

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.

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Dear Son,

As your enthusiasm builds for leaving home and going off to college in a few months, I want to talk with you about having to make on-the-spot moral, legal, and social decisions when you are on your own.

As you know, the news has been filled with reports and commentary about the alleged incidents at Penn State involving former Defensive Coach Jerry Sandusky sexually molesting disadvantaged young boys who participated in his charity. He has denied the charges in the indictment, and due process of law will determine his guilt or innocence.

Up for discussion in the unforgiving public forum are the actions of Assistant Coach Mike McQueary who, on March 1, 2002 at 9:30 p.m., while he was a grad assistant entered the practice facility to obtain some video tapes to review. He heard noises from the shower area and went to investigate. According to reports of his grand jury testimony, he was “distraught” when he saw Sandusky raping a ten-year old boy.

It is unclear what happened next. McQueary apparently made no mention in the grand jury about intervening to save the child, but in the last couple days he has hinted that he forced Sandusky to stop. He then called his father, with whom he had a close relationship, for advice on what to do next. Then he contacted Coach Joe Paterno and reported the incident. Later he also told two other Athletic Department officials. These three, however, say that his report was not detailed enough to cause them to take further action of some kind.

It is clear that no one reported the crime to the police or to Child Protective Services. Allegedly Sandusky’s access to the children and the Penn State facilities was not restricted, and he inflicted other such assaults on children during the nine years that have followed. Both Paterno and McQueary continued to publicly support Sandusky’s charitable activities.

The public reaction to McQueary and Paterno has ranged from commendation to vilification. Paterno, probably the most revered football coach in America, was summarily fired and McQueary, perhaps because of his legal protection as a whistleblower, has been placed on paid administrative leave. Probably neither will have any connection to college football again.

The issue worth thinking about is whether McQueary’s response, whatever it was, presents a moral and legal lesson for the rest of us. In my generation a woman named Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death in New York’s Central Park while dozens failed to take action when they heard her cries for help. Social psychologists have labeled the phenomenon diffusion of responsibility or bystander effect, but the bottom line is that, when confronted with a moral imperative, people who could have saved her life failed to act.

McQueary has been showered with the moral opprobrium of the commentators who have assumed he failed to stop the assault. They have hastened to assure their listeners that they would have assuredly stepped up stopped the violence and called the cops. Jane Turner, an FBI psychological profiler who specializes in child sex crimes, however has indicated that in her experience most people would have walked away as McQueary is alleged to have done. Turner writes:

“It takes enormous strength to put one’s moral integrity over your personal inclination to protect fellow colleagues who have committed malfeasance, or criminal activity. The FBI, like Penn State and the Catholic Church, are entities that allows their personnel to report allegations up a chain of command but those in positions of power or change, fail to take immediate or strong actions. It simply boils down to the fact that those in power have a stronger desire to preserve the reputation of their institution, than taking the road of truth or justice. Entities like Penn State, the Catholic Church and the FBI all share something in common; they operate in an insular world where rules or laws that apply to everyone else, do not apply to them.”

Early in my career as a prosecutor, my boss Len Gilman made it clear to us that our job was to do what was right even if we as individuals or our office had to pay the price of being embarrassed or worse. And a couple times we were.

Assume for the sake of this letter that Mike McQueary is neither a hero nor a villain but just a guy who hesitated, as a majority of others would have in 2002, when suddenly confronted with a terrible moral issue. Just a guy who knew that the price to be paid for more aggressive action would be to jeopardize the head coach he idolized, the powerful institution and football program to which he was so loyal, and the future he wanted so badly.

So he called his dad for guidance, then Joe Pa. And that apparently was it, for nine years, until it hit the fan, as it seems with increasing frequency to do. If we have learned nothing else from the massive tragedy that has so damaged the Catholic Church, it is that doing nothing, protecting people and institutions that seem so invulnerable at the time, will usually be disastrous for everyone concerned. And now a legend will die, a great university tarnished for a generation and saddled with millions of dollars of civil settlements, and an apparently otherwise fine young man’s dreams dashed forever. Worst of all, boys who had tough enough lives already were damaged by a man who should have been isolated so he couldn’t harm others.

Son, I hope you always have the luxury of time for meditation and parental guidance before you have to act on a moral issue. But if you don’t, consider this your father’s advice.

Demonstrate the courage I know you have to step up, do what is right, protect the vulnerable, call the police and support them in any way they ask. If there is a price to pay, we will share it together and you will be compensated by the respect of your family and friends.

Oh, and call your mother once in a while.

Dad

Hispanics and Muslims Targeted More in 2010 Hate Crimes

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

FBI crime stats released Monday show  the proportion of hate crimes committed against Hispanics have reached a decade high, with 66 percent of ethnically motivated hate crimes being committed on the basis of anti-Hispanic bias, reports the Huffington Post.

The Huffington Post also reported in a separate article that the  level of anti-Muslim hate crimes “soared by an astounding 50 percent” above 2009 levels. The statistics show that there were 107 attacks on Muslims in 2009, and 160 in 2010.

The jump in the overall percentage of hate crimes attributed to anti-Hispanic bias has jumped dramatically, the Huffington Post reported. There were 595 Hispanic victims in 2003–almost 45 percent of the total that year–but, at 66 percent of the total for 2010, there 747 victims last year.

 

FBI Terrorism Sting in Houston Ends in Conviction

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Barry Walter Bojul’s trip to Yemen has been detoured, possibly by as much as 20 years in a federal prison.

The 30-year-old Texan’s  conviction in a Houston federal court on Monday was the culmination of an investigation that began in 2009 by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. He was convicted of providing support to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Bojul acted as his own attorney.

In 2009, law enforcement thwarted three attempts of Bujol’s to leave the US for the Middle East, fearful he was planning to commit a violent jihad. Concerned, FBI agents arranged for Bujol to meet a confidential informant, who posed as  a recruiter for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  Bujol later told  the informant he wanted to fight with the mujahideen.

It was established at the trial that Bujol had been in contact with the late Yemeni-American al-Qaeda associate Anwar Al-Aulaqi. In response to Bujol’s questions of how to support jihad, Aulaqi sent a letter entitled “42 Ways of Supporting Jihad,” which advocated violence and killing.

The confidential informant contacted Bujol on May 30, 2010, with a previously agreed upon codeword signaling the beginning of Bujol’s travels to the Middle East to join AQAP. They drove to the Port of Houston together where Bujol thought he was boarding a ship as a stow-away bound for training in Algeria then fighting in Yemen.

“Minutes after stowing away in a room on board the ship, agents took him into custody without incident,” according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office press release.

Bujol faces up to 15 years for attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and another five years for identity theft charges related to a fake ID Bujol had made to gain access to the port. He also faces fines of up to $250,000.

He has been in federal custody since the May 30, 2010 arrest, where he will remain until sentencing.

Forget Sexuality Issue, Hoover’s Overreach the Real Story

J. Edgar Hoover

Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

So, about that whole gay thing…

Salon contributor Mark Feldstein does not care so much about the issue. In a brief but scathing response to the J. Edgar movie, Feldstein called the film a “brief defense of the FBI’s legendary director” which ignore’s Hoover’s “ruthless abuse of power.”

Feldstein credits Hoover, as does the film, with creating the modern forensics lab to nab bad guys, and even provides a credible rationale for Hoover’s obsession with communism. But Felstein’s first complaint is the film’s portrayal of Hoover as an ally of Senator Joe McCarthy. “In fact, the FBI director was a crucial ally of the Red-baiting demagogue,” he writes.

“During his lifetime he was Washington’s consummate master of sexual slander and political blackmail,” he writes of Hoover. “Given the known facts of Hoover’s life, Eastwood has painted his subject in the best light possible—better than he deserves and infinitely kinder than Hoover ever treated his many enemies, who included some of the most heroic figures of that tumultuous era.”

Feldstein has plenty more criticisms of Hoover, or of what the film missed. To read more click here.

Detroit FBI Adding Agents to Fast Moving Corruption Probe

Retired FBI Official Backs Proposed Law to Legalize Small Amounts of Pot

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Retired FBI agent Charles Mandigo has quite the resume. Over the 27-year span at the agency, he did a lot of things including head up the Seattle office,  investigate the “Millenium Bomber” and drug cases, and serve a stint as congressional liaison to former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

So when he endorsed an initiative in Washington state to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and regulate state-run pot stores, it got some attention.

The Seattle Times  reports the bill he’s backing is a “complex, 64-page initiative” that would legalize possession of small amounts of pot, but  keep intact police authority in cases of drug smuggling and street sales, as well as continuing the ban on marijuana possession for those under 2

“I am not aware of any case I worked on that this law would have changed,” Mandigo said, according to the Times, noting that he does not condone the use of any illegal drugs.

“There is no question the time has come when government must curtail discretionary programs,” Mandigo said in a written statement, according to the Times.”If the resources were available, continued enforcement of criminal laws for possession and use of small amounts of marijuana might be a discretionary function of government. But we have gone beyond the point where the resources are available or there is a justifiable cost-benefit to society. There must be an end to sacred cows.”

The bill is being pushed by the New Approach campaign, which the Times report calls a growing group of retired law enforcement officials including former Clinton-appointed US Attorney for Seattle Kate Pflaumer and her successor John McKay, a George W. Bush appointee, the Times reported.

To read more click here.