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FBI

Fed Judge Says Govt. Doesn’t Have to Pay for FBI Agent Smashing Up $750,000 Ferrari

Latest model of Ferrari F50

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Having immunity has its benefits.

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn of Detroit has dismissed a lawsuit by a suburban Detroit insurance company that was trying to get the government to pay up after an FBI agent smashed up a stolen $750,000, 1995 F50 Ferrari that was in government custody, the Associated Press reported.

The judge ruled that federal law grants immunity to the feds if the property is being held by law enforcement, AP reported.

The judge concluded that the wreck was “certainly unfortunate,” but the government can’t be sued in these matters, AP’s Ed White  reported.

AP reported that the insurance company, Motors Insurance of Southfield, Mi., believes the FBI agent and the prosecutor in the car were taking the Ferrari for a joyride when the agent lost control in 2009 in Lexington, Ky.

AP reported that the car was stolen in Rosemont, Pa., in 2003 and eventually recovered in Kentucky.

AP reported that an email released to the insurance company showed that Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson was invited for a “short ride” before the car was moved from the impound garage.

 

Shame on the Justice Dept. For Screwing Families in Boston Murder Cases

 

Whitey Bulger

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Justice Department can feel proud that an appeals court Thursday essentially upheld its right to screw the families whose relatives were allegedly murdered by Boston gangster James J. “Whitey’’ Bulger.

Bulger was working as an FBI informant and running wild, and a Boston federal judge back in 2009 awarded the families nearly $8.5 million, saying the government was negligent when it essentially let informant Bulger — under its watch — get away with murder. Bulger was linked to the 1982 murders of Michael Donahue and Edward “Brian’’ Halloran, who were both gunned down on the Boston waterfront in 1982.

In February, an Appeals Court panel ruled 2-1 to vacate the award,  agreeing with the Justice Department, which argued that the families had not filed their claims for damages in time.  The Boston Globe reported on Thursday that the Appeals Court ruled 3-3 on the matter, letting stand the 2-1 decision.

Congratulations to the Justice Department. Yes, it was legally right.  Ethically and morally, it was very very wrong. But in Washington, winning is often more important than doing the right thing.

Interestingly, the court said in its ruling, according to the Globe: “Under the Constitution, federal courts may not make decisions based on sympathy. The legal issue presented by these cases is not whether the conduct of the FBI was shameful; it was. It is not whether plaintiffs are victims of that conduct; they are.’’

Perhaps the dissenting opinion from Judge Juan R. Torruella put it best:

“James ‘Whitey’ Bulger has finally been apprehended and is now being haled into the federal courthouse in Boston to answer for the crimes he allegedly committed years ago. But, unlike Bulger himself, thanks to the panel majority’s decision and the full court’s refusal to reverse it, Bulger’s most trusted associate, the Boston FBI office, has gotten away with murder.’’

One lawyer for the  family told the Globe that he would try to convince the Supreme Court to take up the appeal. I don’t think it’s likely to take up the case since there’s no great legal precedent here; just a matter of right and wrong.

The Justice Department should have simply paid out the money. But nooo.

Yes, the Justice Department has good lawyers. And yes, they won. But winning isn’t always everything, particularly when the Justice Department looks like the real loser here.

 

It’s Out: Whitey Bulger Tipster is Former Miss Iceland

Updated Bulger photo/wbur

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The former Miss Iceland Anna Bjornsdottir was splitting her time between Iceland and Santa Monica, Calif. when, at home in Iceland, she saw a photo of her Santa Monica neighbors, Carole and Charlie Gasko, flash across the TV screen, according to CBS Boston. The Gaskos’ were actually mob boss Whitey Bulger and girlfriend Carole Greig. Bjornsdottir called the FBI.

While the tip led the FBI to Bulger, some say the FBI’s inability to protect Bjornsdottir’s identity may harm not only her safety but the integrity of the whole tipster program, reports the Boston Herald.

“They can’t guarantee her 100 percent safety going forward,” former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan told the Herald. “It’s unnecessary publicity and unnecessary harassment.”

CBS Boston reports that Bjornsdottir bonded with Whitey’s girlfriend Carole over a stray cat. “Cathy took this cat under her wing. She would come out every morning and feed this cat. While she was feeding the cat, Anna was stop, and they would talk. They developed a bit of a bond,” CBS Boston quotes a Boston Globe report.

To read more click here.

Miami Fed Juror Charged With Soliciting Bribe During Trial

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Italo Campagna was serving as a juror in Miami an ongoing federal criminal trial when he slipped the defendant’s father a piece of paper outside the courthouse with a telephone number on it.

Later that afternoon, Campagna, 55,  met with the defendant’s brother, who had contacted him, and arranged to meet in Miami Beach to discuss the case.

In charges announced last week by the FBI, authorities alleged that Campagna offered the defendant’s brother his ability to persuade jurors to vote not guilty in exchange for a  payment between  $50,000 and $100,000.

The brother notified FBI agents and began working with the agency.

He called Campagna back, asking if he was still interested, all the while recording the phone call. Campagna said he was still interested, and they arranged a date and time to discuss a final price. They met later that day, where the brother was able to get Campagna to confirm the details of the trade, and to settle on $20,000. They walked back to the brother’s car, where he handed over what appeared to be a bundle of cash in a brown bag to Campagna, who was then arrested.

“The credibility and public confidence in our criminal justice system hinge on the integrity of individuals serving as jurors. If that integrity is compromised, then so are our efforts to bring criminals to justice,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo A. Ferrer in a statement. “This case should serve as a stern reminder of the consequences that follow a breach of a juror’s sworn duty to follow the law.”

FBI Unveils New Facial Recognition System

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Prepare yourselves for a protracted battle between privacy rights advocates and the FBI this winter. FBI officials told the website NextGov by January they will activate a nationwide facial recognition service, allowing local police in select states to identify unknown subjects in photos.

The Feds are embarking on “a multiyear, $1 billion dollar overhaul of the FBI’s existing fingerprint database to more quickly and accurately identify suspects,” reports NextGov. The upgrade will include the use of  other biometric markers like iris scans and voice recordings.

Often law enforcement authorities will “have a photo of a person and for whatever reason they just don’t know who it is [but they know] this is clearly the missing link to our case,” Nick Megna, a unit chief at the FBI’s criminal justice information services division, told NextGov.

Currently, officers would need the name of an individual to search for mugshots in their database. But, according to NextGov,

“Using the new Next-Generation Identification system that is under development, law enforcement analysts will be able to upload a photo of an unknown person; choose a desired number of results from two to 50 mug shots; and, within 15 minutes, receive identified mugs to inspect for potential matches.”

Sunita Patel, a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, has voiced concerns about the new technology.

“Any database of personal identity information is bound to have mistakes. And with the most personal immutable traits like our facial features and fingerprints, the public can’t afford a mistake,” she said, according to NextGov. “The federal government is using local cops to create a massive surveillance system.”

Michigan, Washington, Florida and North Carolina will test out the new systems this winter, before it is unrolled nationwide in 2014, the website reported.

To read more click here.

Rep. Issa Says More Subpoenas Coming in Fast and Furious

As Release Date Nears, More is Being Released on the Movie “J. Edgar”

warner brothers

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

As the November release date of the controversial movie about FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover nears, the studio is releasing more material on the matter.

Recently, the studio released a trailer. And now  a poster of the movie is circulating (to the right).

The movie, which reportedly has a national release date of Nov. 9,  is likely to draw in a fair amount of former and current agents, who are curious about the film.

Some have expressed displeasure about the film directed by Clint Eastwood, which reportedly depicts Hoover as having a romantic relationship with his top confidante Clyde Tolson.

The official J. Edgar movie website says this about Hoover:

“During his lifetime, J. Edgar Hoover would rise to be the most powerful man in America. As head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for nearly 50 years, he would stop at nothing to protect his country. Through eight presidents and three wars, Hoover waged battle against threats both real and perceived, often bending the rules to keep his countrymen safe.

“His methods were at once ruthless and heroic, with the admiration of the world his most coveted, if ever elusive, prize.Hoover was a man who placed great value on secrets–particularly those of others–and was not afraid to use that information to exert authority over the leading figures in the nation.

“Understanding that knowledge is power and fear poses opportunity, he used both to gain unprecedented influence and to build a reputation that was both formidable and untouchable.He was as guarded in his private life as he was in his public one, allowing only a small and protective inner circle into his confidence.

“His closest colleague, Clyde Tolson, was also his constant companion. His secretary, Helen Gandy, who was perhaps most privy to Hoover’s designs, remained loyal to the end… and beyond. Only Hoover’s mother, who served as his inspiration and his conscience, would leave him, her passing truly crushing to the son who forever sought her love and approval.”

FBI Helps Recover Stolen Civil War Flag Missing for Almost 30 Years


The Confederate flag/fbi photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Missing for almost three decades, a civil-war battle flag stolen in the 1980s by a volunteer at the Memorial Hall Museum (Confederate Memorial Hall) of New Orleans, has been recovered, the FBI announced this week.

The FBI said the  Art Crime Team in the FBI Miami Division initially got some information and got the ball rolling.

After locating the current owner, investigators determined that the owner bought the flag in 2004, not knowing it was stolen, the FBI said. He voluntarily turned the item over to the FBI.

The FBI said the flag was turned over to The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va.,  during a ceremony on Wednesday. It will ultimately be returned to the Confederate Memorial Hall in New Orleans.