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Wall Street’s New Sheriff: NY U.S. Atty Preet Bharara — A Bruce Springsteen Fan

U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara/doj photo

By Shira Ovide
Wall Street Journal

Hey, hedgies, better brush up on Preet Bharara’s CV and predilections. The U.S. Attorney for Manhattan is looking like the new Sheriff of Wall Street–-and he’s a Springsteen fan, to boot.

Bharara’s office, along with the FBI and the SEC, are closing in on an insider-trading case that could ensnare a wide swath of bankers, investor consultants, hedge funds and mutual-fund traders, The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend.

Investigators in part are looking into the role played by the cottage industry of industry consultants and analysts who give hedge funds and mutual funds an in-depth look into industries.

The wide-ranging probe stemmed from Bharara’s focus on insider trading. Bharara may not be a household name, but he made his bones taking on organized crime in New York, and more recently has tackled investigations into Bernie Madoff, the Galleon insider trading probe and the arms merchant known as the “Merchant of Death.” Wall Street isn’t so tough by comparison.

To read more click here.

FBI Raids Hedge Funds in What Promises to Be Big Wall Street Scandal

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The big Wall Street folks with lots of money could soon be trading in those $3,000 tailored wool suits for orange jumpsuits in what promises to be a full blown, major scandal.

F.B.I. agents on Monday raided offices of three hedge funds as part of an escalating probe into insider trading on Wall Street, the New York Times reports.

The hedge funds include Level Global Investors of New York and Diamondback Capital Management of Stamford, Conn., Loch Capital Management of Boston.

“We are conducting court-authorized search warrants as part of an ongoing investigation,” said N.Y. FBI spokesman Richard Kolko in a statement. “The matter is sealed. We have no further comment.”

To read more click here.

Justice Dept. and FBI Probe 2008 Fatal Shooting by Off-Duty Deputy Marshal in LA

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division  and the FBI are investigating a deputy U.S. Marshal who fatally shot a tattoo parlor employee while off duty during a confrontation in Los Angeles in 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The local prosecutor had found inconsistencies in deputy marshal Matthew Itkowitz’s story, but declined prosecution for insufficient  of evidence.

Itkowitz shot Ryan Gonzalez, 26, in an alley after a night of drinking.

Itkowitz claimed the shooting was in self defense while he was being beaten and threatened with a gun, the LA Times reported.

“The footage, made public by The Times last week, shows Gonzalez twice knocking Itkowitz to the ground and at one point brandishing what authorities said appears to be a gun,” the LA Times reported. “But Itkowitz does not open fire until after the confrontation has ended.

“The footage shows Gonzalez walking away and apparently waving back at Itkowitz for him to do the same when Itkowitz pulls a gun from his rear waistband and tucks it behind his leg. When Gonzalez turns and begins walking back toward Itkowitz, the off-duty deputy marshal pulls out his gun and begins firing. As Gonzalez flees down the alley, Itkowitz chases after him, firing a total of five shots.”

The confrontation began after Itkowitz’s wife came running to several people in the alley asking for help, saying she feared her husband was going to hurt her, the Times reported.

Itkowitz remains on duty.

To read more click here.

Miss. FBI Agent Acquitted on 2 Counts; Mistrial Declared on Remaining 3

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal jury in Mississippi on Saturday found FBI agent Hal Neilson not guilty on two counts relating to charges that he failed to disclose his ownership in a building housing the FBI in Oxford, Miss., and then lied about it,  News360.com reported. The jury deadlocked on three other counts and a mistrial was declared.

The news organization reported that family and friends “shrieked with joy” as the verdict was read Saturday afternoon.

The verdict capped a 10-day trial. Neilson had claimed before trial that the then-U.S. Attorney indicted him because he had been critical of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The website reported that prosecutors had not immediately whether they would go for a second trial on the hung counts.

The website reported that FBI agent Neilson, an attorney, took the stand for six hours on Wednesday, insisting he was not part of the company when it first leased the building to the FBI and that he’d gotten permission from the FBI to enter into the business.

Column: Ex-FBI Agent Says TSA Continues to Prove It is “An Inept Agency”

Douglas B. Wolfe was an FBI agent who also worked for Department of Defense and retired as Senior Special Agent, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Agriculture. He runs Fidelity Investigations & Consulting in Maryland and recently launched a blog  WorldFamousPrivateEye’s Blog.

Doug Wolfe

By Douglas B. Wolfe

It’s the week before the busiest holiday travel season, and the TSA continues to prove it is an inept agency in search of a mission. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano justifies intrusive policies with simple-minded platitudes, “It’s all about security,” and “everybody recognizing their role.” When did it become the role of a TSA employee to don gloves and grope passengers?

I doubt most TSA screeners envisioned this part of their job description, and MOST don’t want to be the groper. What do I and most airline customers want? We just want to visit Mom for Thanksgiving and not be hassled.

But the TSA must be doing a great job since there have been no hijackings since 9-11, right? Wrong. The whole paradigm of how to act if your plane is hijacked has changed. The “system” taught us for decades to just comply with a hijacker’s instructions and the plane will land safely in Cuba. Now, no self-respecting planeload (read cattlecar) of travellers will ever let a terrorist, a ne’er-do-well, or anybody else take over a plane again. Not without a fight anyway. Bad guys know it, I know it, you know it, but Napolitano and TSA chief John Pistole are determined to give you and me a choice between the high-tech scanner (think of the ads for xray glasses that accompanied the mini comic strip inside the Bazooka bubble gum wrapper), or the low-tech molestation.

Billions of our dollars have been flushed down the drain called “security.” It’s a brilliant strategy by the Bin Ladens of the world if you think about it. They can’t win by force, but they can watch and wave as the United States spends itself into more economic woe.

In the weeks following the 9-11 attacks President Bush boldly re-drew the lines on government organization charts, creating DHS by simply renaming the people already on the job, adding more layers of bureaucracy, and more political positions. Some of the realignments make sense. But it was never essential. The government’s default strategy for problem solving is to reorganize. But it won’t address the real problem

Secretary Napolitano and Mr. Pistole, your first duty is to respect the Constitution and the dignity of both the traveling public AND TSA employees. Do the best you can within reason, to deter evil-doers.

But please, stop hassling us.

$100K Down the Toilet: Scandal Rocks DC Suburb as FBI Investigates

Jack Johnson

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

The former school superintendent is behind bars. County Executive Jack Johnson and his wife are whisked away in handcuffs by FBI agents, after authorities say she flushed evidence in the form of a $100,000 check down the toilet. And a few days later, three county cops are indicted in an FBI probe linked to the county executive — a probe that has all the markings of a much bigger scandal to come.

This is no obscure county in the middle of Nowheresville, U.S.A. It’s Prince George’s County, 498 square miles with more than 800,000 residents, long considered one of the most affluent African-American majority counties in the nation. It’s home to the Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field and the University of Maryland. And it borders Washington, D.C.

Still, for all the good in the county, including some first-rate neighborhoods and a major new hotel, shopping and entertainment complex on the Potomac River, it has long fought hard in the public relations game and often come up short, battling nagging negatives.

Over the years, the police department was plagued by allegations of excessive force. The crime rate spiked a few years ago, with homicides hitting a record 173 in 2005, just 21 short of Washington’s tally. In 2008, Schools Superintendent Andre Hornsby was convicted of steering contracts to a girlfriend and a business associate in exchange for money. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

And now this.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Column: U.S. Attys and AUSAs in Michigan Have Played Key Roles in Shaping “Rule of Law”

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 the author of the book “Carving Out the Rule of Law: The History of the United States Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan 1815–2008″.

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The “rule of law”—What does it mean?

For most of history since its origin in ancient Greece it has meant that the law, however it was created, rules events and relationships not the whim of the sovereign or the government.

But in this country rule of law has evolved through a gradual building process to encompass more than that—equality and certainty in enforcement and the fair and impartial adjudication of rights and liabilities.

The federal courts and the USAOs have had an unrecognized role in this process.

Today I would like to give you just a few examples of USAs and their Assistants and their contributions.

Solomon Sibley was the first USA.

In 1805 the village of Detroit burned to the ground. Sibley was the first mayor. Perhaps where we are today he walked amidst the smoking rubble and thought as one of 3-4 lawyers in the whole Michigan Territory, surrounded by swamps and wilderness, will this place ever amount to anything?

Read more »

Charges Dropped Against 3 FBI Agents and an Analyst in Steroid Case

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Charges have been dropped against three Washington area FBI agents and an analyst who were accused of covering up use of steroids and human growth hormones.

In federal court on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a one-page document dismissing the charges without prejudice, leaving open the possibility of new charges down the road as the probe continues. One factor in the dismissal was the pressure of bringing the trial in a timely manner as authorities continue to sift through a mound of evidence.

Special Agent James Barnett of Alexandria,Va., counterterrorism analyst Ali Sawan of Sterling,Va., and Special Agents Katia and Matthew Litton, who are married and live in McLean, Va., were charged with making false statements in an annual fitness report.

“The case against the four FBI employees was dismissed without prejudice and the government retains the option to seek charges at a later date, ” said Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington. ”   He said the investigation into the matter is continuing, but he  declined to comment on the reasons for the dismissal.

The agents were charged in September with providing false statements after they allegedly failed to disclose on government forms the use of anabolic steroids and human growth hormones commonly taken in the sports and bodybuilding world, authorities announced today. One agent is a former bodybuilder.

Authorities said the FBI employees received different diagnoses from a doctor, including “pituitary dwarfism” — a stunted-growth condition normally diagnosed in children — and then got numerous prescriptions for the steroids and growth drugs for “which there was no known medical necessity.”