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FBI

Boston Globe Editorial Says FBI Guilty of “Red-Baiting at its Worst”

fbi logo largeBy The Boston Globe
Editorial

GREENPEACE, THE Catholic Worker, the Thomas Merton Center — none of these groups had the remotest connection to 9/11 or terrorism. And the FBI had no business investigating them — with no evidence other than a suspicion of left-wing organizations in wartime.

This was shameful red-baiting at its worst. The best thing to say about it is that a Justice Department report cleared the FBI of investigating targeted groups to deliberately stifle their “First Amendment activities.’’ But the net effect was the same.

The Justice Department’s Inspector General report released this week pulled few punches in admonishing the FBI for targeting anti-war groups and advocacy organizations with no apparent justification, and for placing non-violent activists in those groups on terrorist watch lists. The report chastised the bureau for having a “weak’’ rationale for some of its investigations; investigating where there was “little indication of any possible federal crimes’’; and extending “the duration of investigations involving advocacy groups or their members without adequate basis.’’

To read more click here.

Ex-Disney Assistant Pleads Guilty to Insider Trading Scheme

walt disney
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An assistant to a top executive at the Walt Disney Company pleaded guilty Tuesday in Manhattan U.S. District Court to partaking in an insider trading scheme.

Bonnie J. Hoxie, 34, of Los Angeles, admitted that she along with her boyfriend Yonni Sebbag of Morocco obtained confidential inside information, including Disney’s quarterly earnings, and tried selling it to outside investors for stock trading purposes.  Sebbag had already pleaded guilty.

Authorities said from March 2010 through May 25 of this year Hoxie worked as a secretary to Disney’s Head of Corporate Communications and obtained material, nonpublic information and gave it to Sebbag.

Authorities said the scheme involved sending out letters anonymously to hedge funds and other investment companies, offering to sell the info for insider trading.

Undercover FBI agents posed as hedge fund traders known as “tippees” and offered to buy the information. The couple was arrested after Sebbag accepted $15,000 from undercover FBI agents for the information, authorities said.

“Today, Bonnie Hoxie admitted to playing with a stacked deck by selling valuable Disney secrets to make a quick buck,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “This Office will continue to work with the FBI and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to prosecute individuals who commit insider trading and jeopardize the integrity of our financial markets.”

George Venizelos to Head Up Philly FBI Office

Acting Head Venizelos at gang arrests in Newburgh, N.Y./fbi photo

Acting Head Venizelos at gang arrests in Newburgh, N.Y./fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — George Venizelos will take over the FBI’s Philadelphia office, replacing Janice Fedarcyk who recently took over the New York FBI Office, the FBI announced Tuesday.

Venizelos is the special agent in charge of the Administrative Division for the FBI’s New York Division and temporarily filled in for a while as head of the New York office.

He joined the FBI in 1991 and was first assigned to the Boston Division working white-collar crime, the FBI said. In 1997, he was promoted to supervisory special agent in the Criminal Investigative Division’s Russian Organized Crime Unit at FBI Headquarters.

In September 1999 he served as supervisory senior resident agent for the Philadelphia Division’s Harrisburg Resident Agency and was promoted in 2002 to assistant special agent in charge of the New York criminal division.

In 2003, he was became the assistant special agent in charge of New York’s Counterterrorism Division.

Two years later, he became an inspector at FBI headquarters and led inspection teams at FBI field offices and overseas legal attaché offices.

He became the special agent in charge of the New York Field Office’s Administrative Division in November 2006.

Prior to joining the FBI, he was a DEA agent.

Read Story on Venizelos Temporarily Heading Up the NY FBI

Justice Dept. Wants Appeals Court to Reconsider Warrantless GPS Issue

gpsBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The issue of law enforcement using warrantless GPS is still simmering.

The latest: The Justice Department on Monday asked the full U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. to overturn a ruling by a three-judge panel, which said law enforcement must get a warrant when using a GPS to track a suspect, the BLT:The Blog of the Legal Times reports.

The three-judge panel ruled that authorities violated the privacy of Antoine Jones, the co-owner of a nightclub in Washington, by using the GPS to link him to a  suspected Maryland drug house, the blog reported. The court vacated his conviction and life sentence.

Federal prosecutors have cited a 1983 Supreme Court ruling that said a person traveling on a public road should have no expectation of privacy, the blog wrote.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Smith wrote in the petition for a rehearing that the ruling”raises enormous practical problems for law enforcement,” the blog reported.

“The decision leaves unresolved precisely when the monitoring of a GPS device becomes a ‘search’ under the Fourth Amendment, and implicitly calls into question common and important practices such as sustained visual surveillance and photographic surveillance of public places,” Smith wrote, according to the blog.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

IG Says FBI Misled Public and Congress About Surveilling Anti-War Rally in 2002

Robert Mueller III / file fbi photo

Robert Mueller III / file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI including the director gave inaccurate and misleading statements to Congress and the public about reasons why an agent conducted surveillance at an anti-war rally in 2002 at the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, according a report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

The report concluded that the FBI had no legitimate basis to believe that someone in a terrorism investigation would be present at the rally, contrary to what the FBI said in statements and the testimony Director Robert S. Mueller III delivered before Congress.

“We do not believe that the Director intentionally misled Congress,” the report concluded. “We found no evidence that he received information that should have given him reason to doubt the accuracy of the briefing material he relied on in preparing to testify.”

“Yet, it is clear that FBI personnel took insufficient care to ensure that Director Mueller was given accurate information. In this case, the Director was poorly served by those responsible for the contents of routing slip and press response.”

The FBI on Monday referred to a Sept. 14 letter written by FBI Deputy Director Timothy P. Murphy included in the report, which said: “The FBI regrets that incorrect information was provided regarding this matter.”

But it also applauded the findings of the overall report, which focused  on the FBI’s investigations on certain domestic advocacy groups.

“We are pleased the Report concludes the FBI did not target any groups for investigations on the basis of their First Amendment activities,” the letter said. ” As noted in your Report, (t)he FBI’s investigations of these individuals were generally predicated on concerns about potential criminal acts by these individuals, not their First Amendment rights.”

To read report click here.

Read Washington Post story

Rumor Mill Churns: Who Will Head up FBI’s Washington Field Office?

James McJunkin/fbi photo

James McJunkin/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The rumor mill is churning out names of possible replacements for Shawn Henry, the head of the FBI Washington field office, who has just been named to the number four spot at headquarters.

Amy Jo Lyons/fbi photo

Amy Jo Lyons/fbi photo

Some of the names include Kevin Perkins, assistant director of the Criminal Investigative Division at headquarters;  James  McJunkin, assistant director of the Counterterrorism Division at headquarters;  Amy Jo Lyons, Assistant Director of the Bureau’s Inspection and Kimberly Mertz, head of the New Haven, Conn. FBI.

Henry, who took over in February as head of the FBI’s Washington field office, is returning to headquarters as Executive Assistant Director of the Criminal Cyber Response and Services Branch. Prior to going to the Washington field office, he served at headquarters as assistant Director of the Cyber Division. He’s been with the bureau 21 years.

Kevin Perkins/fbi photo

Kevin Perkins/fbi photo

Kimberly Mertz/fbi photo

Kimberly Mertz/fbi photo

He replaces Thomas J. Harrington who was recently named to the number three spot at the FBI, replacing Timothy P. Murphy, who moved up to the number two spot.

Drug Dealer Laughed When He Found Out Wife Shot Pittsburgh FBI Agent Sam Hicks

Sam Hicks/fbi photo

Sam Hicks/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A drug dealer whose wife shot and killed Pittsburgh FBI agent Sam Hicks in 2008 during an FBI raid at their  home laughed when he learned the agent had been shot, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

As a result of that and his “dispicable behavior” after the slaying of the agent, a federal prosecutor will be asking for more time beyond the 20-year minimum at sentencing Friday for Robert Korbe, a convicted drug trafficker, the Post-Gazette reported.

Prosecutors said that Korbe taunted police at the scene, called them idiots and said “I’ll shoot all of you,” the Post-Gazette reported.

To read more click here.

Indiana FBI Evidence Tech Accused of Stealing Tens of Thousands of $$

cash2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

FBI evidence control technician Melissa L. Sims found a nifty way to take home some extra cash from work: She stole it, the feds say.

The Post-Tribune reported that FBI employee Melissa L. Sims is charged with stealing between 30,000 to $80,000 from the FBI’s Merrillville, Ind.  office evidence room.

The paper reported that Sims, as part of her job, oversaw evidence and was supposed to make sure it was eventually returned to the owner. Instead, she forged vouchers showing she had returned money when in fact she hadn’t.

The scam went on until August 2008, and a month later, she left the office. the paper reported. It reported that it was unclear whether Sims was fired or quit.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Sexting Prosecutor Goes on Medical Leave (AP)
Texas Father Accused of Killing 3 Children (AP)
Authorities Arrest Man Accused of Shooting Deputies (AP)
Teen Pleads Guilty in NYC Coffee Shop Blast (AP)
Jackson Jr. Speaks Out about Blago Trial (AP)