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September 2022


How to Become a Bounty Hunter


Joseph Campbell to Head Up FBI’s San Juan Division


Joseph Campbell/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel

Joseph S. Campbell is leaving the mothership at FBI headquarters to become the special agent in charge of the agency’s San Juan Division, the FBI announced Tuesday.

Campbell has served as an inspector in the Inspection Division at FBI Headquarters, where he led teams responsible for sensitive investigations and the assessment of FBI operations and performance at headquarters and the field offices.

Campbell joined the FBI in 1990 and was first assigned to Chicago where he investigated white-collar crime, public corruption, organized crime, and drug cases.

In November 1998, he was promoted to supervisory special agent in the Counterterrorism Division, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Operations Unit at headquarters. There, he oversaw oversaw national WMD threat responses and investigations.

In February 2001, he was promoted to supervisory special agent of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in the Denver Division.

In September 2004, he was assigned as an assistant inspector for the Inspection Division at headquarters. In December of the following year, he returned to Denver as as assistant special agent in charge, overseeing intelligence, WMD, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber programs.

In March 2008, Campbell was back at headquarters, serving as a section chief in the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate.

Campbell has a law degree from Washburn University School of Law.


FBI Paid LA Sheriff’s Deputy $1,500 to Smuggle Phone to Inmate in Sting

By Danny Fenster

The LA Times reports that a cell phone smuggled into the Los Angeles County jail to help document alleged inmate abuse was smuggled in by a county Sheriff’s deputy, who was paid about $1,500 as part of an FBI undercover sting. had previously written about the incident, noting the Sheriff’s displeasure with the Fed’s approach. Sheriff Lee Baca, the county’s top brass, was not notified about the FBI investigation into inmate abuse, which has caused a riff between the FBI and the county police. Baca will meet with U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte Jr. Tuesday to discuss the incident, which he calls a major safety breach.

“It’s illegal,”Baca said, according to the LA Times.  “It’s a misdemeanor and then there’s a conspiracy law that goes along with it.”

The deputy that aided the FBI was Gilbert Michel, 38, who did not know the inmate he was giving the phone to was an FBI informant, the Times reported.  Michel resigned shortly after being put on leave, according to the LA Times. Michel has not been charged with a crime but is now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Sheriff’s Department.

This is not the first investigation of LA County jails. To read more about the case and the context of the county jails, click here.


FBI Says Lasers Pointed at Aircraft Nearly Doubled in 2010

What appears as a dot of light on the ground can illuminate an entire cockpit, disorienting a pilot or causing temporary blindness/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel

People pointing hand-held lasers at aircraft — an act that can temporarily blind or disorient a pilot —  nearly doubled in 2010 compared to the year before, the FBI says.

The FBI reported that in 2009 there were 1,489 laser incidents recorded by the Federal Aviation Administration compared to 2,836 in 2010, or an average of more than seven incidents daily.

In releasing the stats, the FBI cited Justin Stouder as an example.

The 24-year-old pointed a laser from his Suburban St. Louis yard at a helicopter last year and was arrested.

“It’s equivalent to a flash of a camera if you were in a pitch black car at night,” said St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer Doug Reinholz, the pilot on patrol that night when Stouder’s green hand-held laser “painted” his cockpit, according to an FBI press release.

“It’s a temporary blinding to the pilot,” he said during a recent news conference highlighting the danger of lasers directed at airplanes and helicopters.

The penalties are stiff.

Interfering with the operation of an aircraft carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Since the FBI and Federal Aviation Administration began keeping records of laser events in 2004, “there has been an exponential increase every year,” said Tim Childs from the Federal Air Marshal Service, who serves as a liaison officer with the Bureau on laser issues.

The overwhelming number of the incidents involve green lasers—especially dangerous because the human eye is most susceptible to damage from the yellow-green light spectrum, the FBI said.

In the St. Louis case, Justin Stouder said at a news conference, according to the FBI: “I had no idea it illuminated the whole cockpit and blinded everybody inside…It was really a selfish mistake.”

FBI Shows Arrest of Someone Pointing a Laser



Could Release of American Hikers Help Ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson?

Robert Levinson

By Allan Lengel

Could the release by Iran of two American hikers help spur the release of  missing retired FBI agent Robert Levinson?

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla) hopes so.

Fox News reports that Nelson fired of a letter on Sept. 22 to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking her to press the issue at the United Nations General Assembly last week. The letter came one day after the American hikers were released.

Levinson, married and the father of seven, vanished in March 2007 after checking out of a hotel on Kish Island, a Persian Gulf resort off the southern coast of Iran, Fox reported.

Fox reported that Levinson traveled to the region to meet an an American fugitive accused of murdering a former Iranian official in Maryland in 1980.

Recent reports said that Levinson was alive and being held somewhere in Southwest Asia.

In a letter to Clinton, Sen. Nelson wrote, according to Fox:

“I hope you will be able to appeal to Tehran’s representatives there to help reunite a husband and father with wife Christine and their seven children. The Levinson family has suffered all too long.”


FBI Probe into LA County Jail Angers Sheriff

By Danny Fenster

Lee Baca was not happy about a cell phone that turned up in a Los Angeles County jail. Baca is the LA County Sheriff, and the cell phone was smuggled to an inmate — an FBI informant —  by agents of the FBI, according to the LA Times.

The Feds are investigating allegations of inmate beatings–including an incident in which deputies broke one inmate’s jaw and facial bones and beat another for two minutes while he was unconscious.

Baca had not been notified about the investigation. His spokesman, Steve Whitmore, says the investigation is unnecessary, and that sneaking a phone into the jail “is a serious breach of security that could put inmates, deputies and the public at risk,” according to the Times.

“Inmates that complain and say they’ve been brutalized … most of them turn out to be not what the inmate said occurred,” Whitman told the Times. “The ones that turn out to be valid are dealt with appropriately.”

Baca is expected to meet with Los Angeles U.S. Atty. André Birotte Jr soon to discuss the incident and the growing tensions between the department and the FBI, the LA Times reported. The police department has launched an investigation into the FBI’s role in “colluding with an inmate.”

This is the third federal investigation of the department in recent months, according to the Times, and the jails have faced a number of complaints over the past decade.

To read more click here.

Former NBA Player Arrested in Suspected Financial Scam

By Danny Fenster
In the NCAA tournament of 1990, down by one point and nearing the final buzzer, Tate George caught a full-court pass, spun around once and released a 15-foot shot with one second left in the game. The ball dropped through the hoop and UConn beat Clemson by one point.

George went on to play four years in the NBA with the New Jersey Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks. But the memory of the old basketball glory may be marred by the athlete’s financial dealings under the auspices of the George Group. George surrendered to federal authorities this week, who allege he carried out a more than $2 million investment fraud scheme, according to an FBI press release.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman made the announcement. George is CEO of The George Group, which the feds allege pitched prospective investors-including several retired athletes-to invest with the firm. George told investors their money would be used to fund real estate development projects. “George represented to some prospective investors that their funds would be held in an attorney escrow account and personally guaranteed the return of their investments, with interest,” said the press release.

George placed investments of more than $2 million between 2005 and 2011 in personal and business accounts, using new investments to pay older investors in ponzi-scheme fashion and using some on home improvement projects, dining out, gas and other personal expenses, rather than real estate projects, according to the FBI.

George faces a maximum 20-year sentence and $250,000 in fines if convicted.

FBI Tipster Got $100,000 Reward for Bulger’s Girlfriend and $2 Mil for Bulger


By Allan Lengel

The person who tipped off the FBI about the whereabouts of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, not only got $2 million for that tip, but got an extra $100,000 for the capture of Bulger’s girlfriend Catherine Greig, the Boston Globe reported.

The FBI issued a statement saying:

“As of Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, the FBI has paid this reward money to more than one individual. To protect the anonymity and privacy of those responsible for providing information which directly led to the arrests of Mr. Bulger and Ms. Greig, the FBI will not comment further regarding this matter.’’

Law enforcement official previously identified the tipster as a woman from Iceland.

That hasn’t sat so well with Keith Messina, 45, of Las Vegas, who has told the Boston newspapers that he should have gotten some of the reward for tipping off “America’s Most Wanted’’ in June 2008 after spotting Bulger on the Santa Monica Pier in California.

The FBI has refused to cough up any cash for Messina.

Bulger is a suspect in 19 murders.

Law Enforcement’s Use of Cell Phone Tracker Device Fuels Constitutional Debate

Wall Street Journal

For more than a year, federal authorities pursued a man they called simply “the Hacker.” Only after using a little known cellphone-tracking device—a stingray—were they able to zero in on a California home and make the arrest.

Stingrays are designed to locate a mobile phone even when it’s not being used to make a call. The Federal Bureau of Investigation considers the devices to be so critical that it has a policy of deleting the data gathered in their use, mainly to keep suspects in the dark about their capabilities, an FBI official told The Wall Street Journal in response to inquiries.

A stingray’s role in nabbing the alleged “Hacker”—Daniel David Rigmaiden—is shaping up as a possible test of the legal standards for using these devices in investigations.

The FBI says it obtains appropriate court approval to use the device. Stingrays are one of several new technologies used by law enforcement to track people’s locations, often without a search warrant. These techniques are driving a constitutional debate about whether the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, but which was written before the digital age, is keeping pace with the times.

To read more click here.