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September 2022


How to Become a Bounty Hunter


The Ghost of Crooked Lobbyist Jack Abramoff Rears its Head: Another Guilty Plea

Jack Ambramoff/ msnbc

Jack Ambramoff/ msnbc

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — The ghost of crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff continues to rear its head in this town which once treated him as a king — that is before he became radioactive and went off to prison.

The latest came Wednesday when Horace M. Cooper, 44, of Lorton, Va., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Washington to taking gifts from lobbyists Abramoff and Neil G. Volz, who had clients with business before the Department of Labor where Cooper was chief of staff for Employment Standards Administration from 2002 to 2005.

Cooper admitted concealing the gifts — sports and concert tickets and dinners — from the Labor ethics officials and his supervisors.

Authorities say Cooper also admitted that he lied to the FBI and a grand jury about the gifts and his relationship with the lobbyists. He faces up to one year in prison and a maximum $100,000 fine when sentenced.

To date, 19 people including lobbyists and public officials have pleaded guilty, were convicted or are awaiting trial in connection with the shady activities of Abramoff and his associates, the Justice Department said.

Abramoff pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, honest services fraud and tax evasion and is serving a four year sentence. Volz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and was sentenced in 2007 to tow years probation.

Ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blago’s Trial Strategy Conflicts With Brother’s

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Allan Lengel

They may be brothers, but their attorneys seem to be mapping out conflicting strategies.

Robert Blogojevich, brother of ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, has filed a motion to keep FBI recordings from airing in their upcoming public corruption trial, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Brother Rod has indicated that he has nothing to hide and wants the jury to hear everything. They are charged with trading favors for campaign money and selling the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.

The Tribune reports that the attorney for Robert Blagojevich claims the FBI had no probable cause to make the recordings, and that there had been no indication that Robert traded favors for campaign contributions. Robert ran his brother’s campaign fund in 2008.

“Evidence of Robert Blagojevich soliciting campaign contributions on behalf of his brother, without proof of an explicit quid pro quo, is not remotely criminal, but, rather, exemplifies the American political process,” Robert’s attorney Michael Ettinger wrote, according to the Tribune.

To Read more click here.

FBI Arrests 64-Year-Old Man in Wash. State For Threatening Senator Over Health Care

Sen. Patty Murray/official photo

Sen. Patty Murray/official photo

By Allan Lengel

The FBI arrested a 64-year-old man on Tuesday morning at his home outside Yakima, Wash.,  for allegedly threatening Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in response to the health care vote, the FBI said.

Authorities charged in a criminal complaint that Charles Alan Wilson of Selah, Wash.,   made a series of threatening calls to the senator’s office in Washington between March 22 and April 4 office, which  included the remarks that Murray “had a target on her back” and “I want to (expletive) kill you.”

“Free speech is the cornerstone of our democratic process, and we are a country of vigorous debate,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg in a statement. “However, threats of violence have no place in that debate. The threats here crossed the line, and violate the law.

Authorities said Wilson allegedly made the calls from a telephone with a blocked number, but subpoenaed phone records show the calls came from his home.

Trial Begins In El Paso for FBI Agent Charged With Illegal Gun Sales and Providing ATF With False Records

gun ruger
By Allan Lengel

Trial started Monday in EL PASO for an FBI agent charged with illegally selling about 50 guns for more than $118,000 without a license, the El Paso Times reported.

FBI Agent John Thomas Shipley, 40, faces six counts of selling firearms without a license from 2005 to 2008. The paper reported that he also faces charges of providing the ATF with false sales records.

The paper reported that lawyer, Robert Perez said on opening day that Shipley’s hobby was buying and selling guns. He has been suspended without pay.

To read more click here.

President Ford Approved Warrantless Wiretaps in 1974

President Ford/whitehouse photo

President Ford/whitehouse photo

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — President Gerald Fold authorized the FBI to use domestic warrantless wiretaps in 1974, according to the website WIRED.

The website, which cites a classified memo recently obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting, says Ford signed a Dec. 19, 1974 memo giving his approval  “just one month before the Senate established an 11-member panel, known as the Church Committee, to investigate government surveillance programs.”

It said he had reviewed the matter and found it was legal. The signing came at a time critics were up in arms over what they considered excessive government surveillance on the domestic front.

“The Church Committee would ultimately uncover other unconstitutional spying activities, such as that conducted by the National Security Agency under the rubric of Operation Shamrock,” WIRED wrote. “Two days after the memo was signed, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, writing in The New York Times, disclosed a covert government spying program that focused on monitoring political activists in the U.S.”

The website said Ford later supported the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which required permission from a special court so law enforcement  could conduct domestic surveillance.

The news of Ford’s memo comes after a federal judge in San Francisco ruled last week that the National Security Agency illegally wiretapped conversations of two lawyers and a Saudi charity during the Bush years.

To read more click here.

Read Ford Memo

Ex-FBI Agent Claims Supervisor Sabotaged Efforts to Reclaim Stolen Art

stolen art bookBy Allan Lengel

Retired FBI agent Robert K. Wittman claims in his upcoming book that his efforts to reclaim stolen art from the biggest art heist in U.S. history was undermine by a supervisor, the Boston Globe reports.

The Globe reports that Wittman makes his claim in his yet to be released book: “Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures.”

Wittman writes that while working undercover French middlemen with criminal ties thought he was a rich collector and offered to sell the stolen paintings, which were taken from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990 in what was regarded as the biggest art heist in U.S. history, according to the Globe.  The art, which includes three stolen Rembrandts,  is still missing.

But Globe says Wittman wrote “that that his efforts were sabotaged by a superior, called Fred in the book, who micromanaged his work and tried to have him thrown off the case.”

The Globe reported that the F.B.I. was reviewing the manuscript to see if it reveals damaging information to the case. The book is scheduled for release in June.


FBI Still Using FBI Agent Who Interviewed Saddam Hussein as Recruiting Tool

FBI Agent George Piro interviewed on 60 Minutes in 2008

FBI Agent George Piro interviewed on 60 Minutes in 2008

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — The FBI continues to use  the agent who  interviewed and befriended the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to entice new agents.

“Imagine sitting across from Saddam Hussein every day for nearly seven straight months—slowly earning his trust, getting him to spill secrets on everything from whether he gave the order to gas the Kurds (he did) to whether he really did have weapons of mass destruction on the eve of war (he didn’t). All the while gathering information that would ultimately be used to prosecute the deposed dictator in an Iraqi court,” the FBI says on its career web page.

It said the agent who interviewed the the Iraqi leader was FBI Special Agent George Piro, who is now an assistant special agent in charge at the FBI’s Washington field office.

“Soon after U.S. special forces pulled Saddam out of a spider hole on December 13, 2003, the CIA—knowing the former dictator would ultimately have to answer for his crimes against the Iraqi people—asked the FBI to debrief Hussein because of our longstanding work in gathering statements for court,” the bureau wrote in a release dated Jan. 28, 2008 that remains on the homepage of the career website.

“That’s when we turned to Piro, an investigator on our terrorism fly team who was born in Beirut and speaks Arabic fluently. Piro was supported by a team of CIA analysts and FBI agents, intelligence analysts, language specialists, and a behavioral profiler,” the FBI wrote.

Read more »

FBI Says Ranking Mexican Gang Member No Easy Find

Eduardo Ravelo in 1998 photo/fbi photo

Eduardo Ravelo in 1998 photo/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel

The FBI knows  Mexican gang member Eduardo Ravelo — who may have had a hand in the recent murders of three people linked to the U.S. Consulate in Mexico — is no easy find.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Ravelo — on the FBI’s Top Ten Fugitives — probably had his fingerprints altered and plastic surgery on his face. He is listed as a captain in the Barrio Azteca, a gang that carries out contract murders for  the Juarez drug cartel, which is believed to be responsible for the spiraling murder rate in the border town of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

“Except for his dark eyes, federal officials doubt he looks anything like his 12-year-old FBI most wanted photo — round face, trim mustache and a scar along his cheek,” the Times wrote.

The Times reports that the FBI believes the 42-year-old lives in  Ciudad Juarez, which borders El Paso, and regularly crosses into Texas.

“He’s a butterfly, a moth,” Samantha Mikeska, an FBI special agent leading the hunt for Ravelo told the Los Angeles Times. “He takes care of his people and that keeps him under the radar.”

To read more click here.