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FBI

More Than 100 Ex-FBI Agents Try to Spring Convicted Ex-Boston Agent John Connolly

John Connolly

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Imprisoned ex-Boston FBI agent John Connolly, who was convicted of helping some mobsters murder a South Florida gambling exec, is getting some support from some former colleagues.

The Associated Press reports that more than  100 ex- FBI agents, including the one whose undercover work inspired the movie “Donnie Brasco,” have filed two petitions with Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. “demanding appointment of a special counsel to investigate the 70-year-old Connolly’s prosecution, raising a grab-bag of claims spanning many years, some of which have been previously rejected by courts and aired in congressional hearings. They include allegations of questionable tactics by prosecutors, evidence that a key witness lied during Connolly’s 2002 federal corruption trial and contentions there was a rigged result in his 2008 Florida murder case.”

Boston Mobster Whitey Bulger remains on the list

“I’ve never seen them go after a gangster like they have John,”  former agent Joseph Pistone of “Donnie Brasco” fame told the AP. “He was dedicated as an FBI agent. He got all kinds of commendations. All of a sudden he goes wrong? That’s kind of hard to believe.”

Authorities alleged that Connolly let Boston mobsters like “Whitey” Bulger, who was an informant, run amuck and commit crimes while he accepted tens of thousands of dollars and other favors from them. Connolly was also accused of passing them sensitive info.

In Miami, Connolly  was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1982 hit of John Callahan, who had mob ties and was president of World Jai-Alai, AP reported. Authorities charged Connolly told mobsters Bulger and Stephen Flemmi that Callahan was going to rat on them, which resulted in the mob hit. Connolly is finishing up a 10-year federal prison term for racketeering and obstruction of justice,  and will soon begin serving a 40-year term for the Florida murder.

AP reported that the Justice Department has declined to  act on the ex-agents’ request, citing Connolly’s ongoing appeals of his Florida murder conviction.

“I feel John was wrongfully convicted,” ex-FBI agent William Reagan told AP. “I don’t think it amounted to a malicious prosecution. I simply think he was screwed over.”

Prosecutors disagree.

“Connolly had his trial. He got convicted. They attacked it with new evidence, and they lost that one, too,”  Michael Von Zamft, an assistant state attorney in Miami, told AP. “The concept that he is this innocent guy is just ridiculous.”

FBI Arrests Mi. Man Who Placed Bomb at Fed Building in Downtown Detroit

McNamara Building

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A 42-year old engineering grad student from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was arrested Thursday morning for allegedly placing a metal cash box with explosives outside the McNamara federal building in downtown Detroit on Feb. 26, which houses the FBI. The bomb never went off.

The FBI said suspect Gary John Mikulich of Kingsford, Mi., a student at Michigan Tech University,  had “long complained about the FBI generally, and the Detroit in particular.”

Authorities alleged that Mikulich and his vehicle matched the description of an individual who purchased a Husky brand tool bag and a GE timer used in the crime.

Authorities said he purchased the items at a Home Depot store in the rustic town of Iron Mountain, Mi., in the Upper Peninsula.

He was scheduled to make a court appearance on Friday in Marquette, Mi.

Read criminal complaint

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Memo Says Interrogators Can Delay Reading Miranda Warning to Terrorist Suspects

Faisal Shahzad

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — An FBI memo issued in December says investigators can interrogate domestic-terror suspects longer without giving them a Miranda warning, according to a  Wall Street Journal report by Evan Perez.

The FBI memo  said the policy applies to “exceptional cases” where investigators “conclude that continued unwarned interrogation is necessary to collect valuable and timely intelligence not related to any immediate threat,” the Journal reported. Interrogators would still need prior approval from FBI and Justice officials.

The controversy over the Miranda warning in domestic terrorism cases surfaced in December 2009 with the “underwear bomber” in Detroit and later the Times Square Bomber.

Both were initially questioned for a period of time before the Miranda warning was read.  The underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdumtallab, was questioned for less than an hour before the Miranda warning was read and Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square Bomber, was questioned for about three hours before the warning was read, the Journal reported.

Some  Republican and Democrats felt the suspects should have been sent to military detentions where the Miranda rules don’t apply, the Journal reported. Other critics felt the Miranda warning was issued too soon, jeopardizing chances of getting more valuable information.

But at the time, the Obama administration countered by saying the suspects continued to cooperate after the Miranda warnings were read and provided value information.

On the other side, some feel the government has no right to take the Miranda warning away from domestic terrorists.

The FBI memo seems follow to some degree a 1984 amendment to the  1966 Miranda ruling which allows questioning of suspects for a limited time before issuing the warning.

Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, told the Journal that  “law enforcement has the ability to question suspected terrorists without immediately providing Miranda warnings when the interrogation is reasonably prompted by immediate concern for the safety of the public or the agents.” He said “the threat posed by terrorist organizations and the nature of their attacks—which can include multiple accomplices and interconnected plots—creates fundamentally different public safety concerns than traditional criminal cases.”

Calif. Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Dem on the House Intelligence Committee, told the Journal that the administration’s tweaking of the law could have a downside.

“I don’t think the administration can accomplish what I think needs to be done by policy guidance alone,” he said.  “It may not withstand the scrutiny of the courts in the absence of legislation.”

FBI Says Deadly Gang Used Cell Phones From Prison to Give Orders on Outside

Barrio Azteca gang member/doj file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

With modern technology comes modern headaches for law enforcement.

The El Paso Times reports that an FBI agent testified in federal court in El Paso on Wednesday that the violent Barrio Azteca gang leaders in prison gave orders to street soldiers by cell phone.

FBI agent Samantha Mikeska said the cell phones were tapped as part of major probe last year into gang that operates on both sides of the border, the El Paso Times reported.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Authors Talk About Book on Mass FBI Sting in New Jersey

EX-FBI Agent Takes Shots at Brooklyn Prosecutors in His New Book


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex- New York FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio, who beat a murder wrap in 2007 after being accused of advising a mob informant to kill four turncoats, is going after the  local Brooklyn prosecutors who unsuccessfully went after him, according to the New York Daily News.

In his new book “We’re Going to Win This Thing: The Shocking Frame-Up of a Mafia Crime Buster”, DeVecchio takes a shot at the Brooklyn Distict Attorney Charles Hynes, suggesting he was “always more interested in publicity than doing his job,” and was hoping that prosecuting an ex-agent would promote a novel he’d written, the Daily News reported.

And DeVecchio  goes after the controversial frontline local prosecutor Michael Vecchione, who unsuccessfully prosecuted him in 2007, the Daily News reported .The case imploded during trial when it was discovered that a key witness , a gangster’s mistress, was lying. The case was subsequently dropped.

DeVecchio said the trial  was set up so that prosecutor Vecchione would be the good Italian and he would be the bad one, the Daily News reported. And he had little good to say about Vecchione.

“Despite having never seen him, I could tell who he was right away,” he noted in his book.  “Dark-skinned, vacant-eyed, with an aggressive, bulky body topped by a moon face and a graying crew cut. He always seemed to be on the verge of toppling forward.

“He had one of those rock star beards that never grows more than a quarter-inch and endows the wearer with a degenerate look. Someone should tell him that it looks ridiculous on a middle-aged man with a potbelly.”

A spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office declined comment, the Daily News reported.

UPDATED: Report Says Army Could Have “Prevented” Anthrax Attacks in 2001 and Psychiatric Records Support FBI Findings That Bruce Ivins “Was Responsible”

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

And now for more on the anthrax controversy.

A court-ordered report by the Expert Behavorial Analysis Panel concluded the U.S. Army could have “anticipated” and “prevented” the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks, and that a review of psychiatric records of suspect Bruce Ivins “does support the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s)determination that he was responsible.”

Ivins, a civilian Army scientist at Ft. Detrick, Md., who committed suicide before authorities could charge him, “was psychologically disposed to undertake the mailings; his behavioral history demonstrated his potential for carrying them out; and he had the motivation and means,” according to the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel , which was created in 2009 to review Ivins and the deadly attacks. News of the report first appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

The Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel found that Ivins displayed unusual behavior — some that was dismissed as eccentricity — that should have led the Army to do a better mental health evaluation. It also said Ivins’ mental health professionals would have advised against it had they known he had a high level security clearance.

The report was welcoming news for the Justice Department and FBI, which has taken some heat from from skeptics who don’t believe that Ivins is the person who mailed the deadly letters that killed five people and sickened 17 others.

“The FBI appreciates the efforts, time, and expertise of the panel and its highly respected chair and members,” the agency said in a statement.”The panel’s analysis, findings, and recommendations provide important insight that will further contribute to the public’s understanding of the investigation into the deadly anthrax mailings.”

The report portrays Ivins was someone who had a “traumatic, damaging childhood” and an abusive one.

“Dr. Ivins grew up in a family in which there is ample evidence that his mother assaulted and abused her husband — stabbing him, and beating him and threatening to kill him with a loaded gun,” the report said. “It also appears she abused Dr. Ivins as a boy, and his father mocked him publicly as well.”

Some fellow scientists and politicians on Capitol Hill — along with Ivins’ attorney — remain skeptical that Ivins mailed the deadly letters that killed 5 people and sickened 17 others.

Read Summary of Report

Ala. Fed Judge Threatens to Sanction Prosecutors for Withholding Documents

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors aren’t scoring any points with a federal judge in a bingo vote-buying case in Montgomery, Ala.

The Birmingham News reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel  Jr. on Tuesday threatened to sanction fed prosecutors for failing to turn over documents relating to FBI wiretaps.  He ordered the government to turn over the files by the end of the business day on Tuesday. He scheduled a pretrial hearing on the matter for Thursday.

“This has gone past the point of mistake or anything else,” Capel said, according to the Birmingham News.

The defense teams says the government has been withholding material related to the wiretaps that could help their case. They claim that notes made regarding casino owners Milton McGregory and Ronnie Gilley could help them prove the wiretaps were done improperly.

Gilley, McGregor, two state senators, two lobbyists and two others are set to go to trial June 6 on charges they attempted to buy and sell votes for gambling bill before the Alabama state legislature, the Birmingham News reported.

“I think there are logs. I think there are emails among the agents,” defense attorney  Doug Jones, who represents Gilley, said, according to the paper. “Personally, it seems to me they are playing hide the ball. There is something there they don’t want us to see.”

The paper reported that fed prosecutors declined comment.  AP reported that one of the defense attorneys said that  the government had emailed some documents before the 5 p.m. deadline on Tuesday. It was unclear from the news report whether the fed prosecutors fully complied with the order.