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Column: Shame on the Justice Dept. for Screwing the Families in Murder Cases

Allan Lengel

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 court’s 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.

 

Congress Grills FBI Director Mueller on Training About Islam

FBI Dir. Mueller Says Agency Has More than Doubled Agents and Analysts for National Security

Robert Mueller/file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III told a Congressional committee in Washington on Thursday morning that the FBI’s commitment on intelligence gathering and counterterrorism can be found in the numbers.

Appearing before the House Permanent Select Committee Intelligence, Mueller noted that since 9/11 the agency has more than doubled the number of agents and analysts assigned to its national security mission.

He said the number of agents has gone from 2,514 agents to 4,815 agents and analysts went from 1,023 to 3,118.

He also testified that the number of Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) has jumped from 35 in 2001 to 104 today.

“Each of the FBI’s 56 Field Offices has a Field Intelligence Group (FIG) composed of Intelligence Analysts, Special Agents, and Staff Operations Specialists (SOS),” he testified. “FIGs, which did not exist prior to 2001, now have 1,662 Intelligence Analysts, 451 Special Agents, and 415 SOSs.”

To read his full statement click here.

FBI Still Scratching Head; Trying to Figure Out if the Geezer Bandit Struck Again

Geezer Bandit usually wears a cap. This time he did not/abc10 photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and police in the San Diego area are trying to figure out if the “Geezer Bandit” — an elderly man or someone disguised as elderly — robbed another bank on Friday — this time in La Jolla, Calif.

Authorities say the bandit has robbed 14 banks since 2009. But 15?

Station ABC10 reports that authorities aren’t sure yet if this is the Geezer Bandit, but they see similarities.

One thing that seems to be throwing authorities off is that the Geezer Bandit usually wears a baseball cap. This time he did not.

FBI Special Agent Darryl Foxworth told 10News; “There’s not enough information from Friday to make that call. It’s too early. We’re conducting other interviews and looking at surveillance video to get a better picture.”

 

Chicago Cop Kept DEA From Investigating Trafficker/Informant Who Went on to Play Role in 3 Murders

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Shades of mobster Whitey Bulger?

You might recall that the Boston FBI created one heck of mess when it continually covered for Whitey Bulger, an FBI informant, while he was off killing people and committing other serious crimes. In fact, one of the agents is now behind bars.

Well, in Chicago, drug trafficker Saul Rodriguez, who was a Chicago police informant, has told the feds he was involved in three murders after Chicago cop Glenn Lewellen, who was his handler, talked the DEA out of investigating him in the 1990s, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

He also told the feds that he and Lewellen were partners in crime and ripped off drugs dealers and split millions of dollars in proceeds, the Sun-Times reported.

Rodriguez pleaded guilty last month to federal drug conspiracy charges and has agreed to testify against Lewellen and other defendants, the Sun-Times reported. The information about his crimes was contained in a 188-page document containing juicy evidence prosecutors plan to use against Lewellen and others.

Rodriguez was an informant for Lewellen for years, according to the Sun-Times. Prosecutors said that from 1996 to 2001, the Chicago Police Department paid Rodriguez $807,000 for information leading to seizures of drugs and cash, all the while committing crimes while Lewellen kept him out of prison, the Sun-Times reported.

According to court document, Lewellen persuaded the DEA to stop investigating Rodriguez in 1996 after 154 pounds of marijuana were seized from his Buick by telling the DEA an investigation of Rodriguez would harm ongoing cases, the Sun-Times reported. Rodriguez was subsequently involved in the murders of three people in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Lewellen retired in 2002 to become a homebuilder. But in 2006, even after leaving the department “he still managed to obstruct a separate DEA investigation of Rodriguez,” by telling Rodriguez not to talk to a drug courier whose phone was tapped, the Sun-Times reports.

To read more click here.

FBI Arrests NYPD Cop For Abusing Position

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Nobody f–ks with Admir Kacamakovic’s cousin’s place.

That’s what Kacamakovic, a seven year veteran of the New York Police Department, told a patron of his cousin’s Brooklyn bar in the 62nd Police Precinct, according to the New York Post.

On duty and donning a full uniform, Kacamakovic assaulted, pepper sprayed, handcuffed and illegally detained a patron involved in a dispute over a parking spot in front of the bar in 2008, according to an FBI affidavit by agent Warren Y. Chiu.

Another individual was assaulted with pepper spray by Kacamakovic during the incident, according to the affidavit.  FBI agents arrested and charged Kacamakovic with civil rights violations.

Federal authorities are also accusing Kacamakovic of obtaining information from an FBI computer database regarding his cousin, who was the focus of a federal narcotics trafficking probe, for which he later pleaded guilty to in July 2010,  according to an FBI affidavit.  He is also accused of obtaining information from law enforcement data base on the individual involved in the parking dispute after that individual filed a formal complaint against the officer.

Kacamakovic was charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST 

 

Major Shakeup at ATF; Thomas Brandon Named New Deputy Director

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A big shakeup has begun at ATF.

Thomas Brandon, who had recently been sent from Detroit to head up the Phoenix Division and clean up the fall out from Operation Fast and Furious, will become the agency’s deputy director — the number two person.

The acting number two person, William J. Hoover, will move from headquarters to head up ATF’s Washington Field Office. And  Mark Chait, Assistant Director of Field Operations, will head up the Baltimore Division.

At headquarters, Mark Potter, former head of the Philly office, who recently was named Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations for the Western Region of the U.S. and International Operations, will become the ATF Assistant Director for the Office of Management. Larry Ford Will become Assistant Director of Office of Field Operations. Julie Torres will become Assistant Director of Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations.

Other changes are as follows: Gregory Gant will become the Assistant Director of Public and Governmental Affairs; James McDermond will return to the Office of Science and Technology as the Assistant Director; Theresa Stoop, head of the Baltimore Division, will become the Assistant Director of the Office of Human Resources and Professional Development; Vivian Michalic will become the Deputy Assistant Director of Office of Management and will remain the Chief Financial Officer for ATF; and Melanie Stinnett will become Deputy Chief Counsel of ATF.

The shakeups come in the midst of a Congressional inquiry into Operation Fast and Furious, a failed operation that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. Some of those guns have surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of the border.

They also come as  the new acting director B. Todd Jones moves to try and resurrect an agency that has been suffering from a severe case of low morale.

Reaction inside and outside ATF about the appointment of Brandon was met with praise.

“He’s a straight shooter, extremely competent, and he wants to do what’s right,” said one veteran ATF agent.

Andrew Arena, who heads up the FBI in Detroit, where Brandon was special agent in charge until recently, said:

“He’s one of the top officials I‘ve ever worked with in nearly 24 years of law enforcement. He gets what the mission is and he’s not into turf battles. He’s about getting it done.”

And Barbara McQuade, the U.S. Attorney in Detroit said “You’ll never meet a more dedicated law enforcement professional than Tom Brandon. He’s incredibly hard working, no ego and just cares about getting the job done. He’s everything you would want in a public servant.”

The change also come as the White House’s nomination for permanent director, Andrew Traver, remains in limbo. The NRA and other gun-rights groups have opposed his nomination, which has stalled in the Senate.  Observers say the nomination is likely to simply die. Traver heads up ATF’s Chicago office.

Brandon might have a better chance of getting confirmed as director. That being said,  the Obama administration isn’t like to spend political capital trying to get a director confirmed before the November 2012 election.   Jones, who is also a U.S. Attorney in Minnesota, is expected to stay on as acting director at least through the end of President Obama’s first term.

 

Murder Suspect Fires Shots at FBI Agents Before Being Arrested

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

After shooting at FBI agents, 30-year-old Frank Perez Jr. was arrested peacefully in a Pittsburgh suburb Tuesday, station WTAE in Pittsburgh reported.

The arrest in Verona, Pa., came after a nearly three-hour standoff with agents and an Allegheny County SWAT Team, WTAE reported.

“He came out on his own,”  FBI Special Agent Jeff Killeen said, according to the station. “With those overwhelming odds, really he has no chance of  escaping and running anymore.”

The FBI said it did not fire any shots. But the station reported that a witness claimed to have seen the agents crouching and firing shots.

Perez’s 1999 charges involved his shooting at police officers, and the FBI says he is suspected of a kidnapping in Mexico as well, according to WTAE.

“This individual has demonstrated clearly that he’s very much a danger to society,” Killeen said. “He’s fired on law enforcement — not once, but twice, in two separate incidents — so we’re very, very concerned about the level of danger that this person poses.”

To read more click here.