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FBI

Jury in William Jefferson Trial Sees America’s Most Famous Freezer

Well, sure there was key testimony from an FBI agent in the case. But at the end of the day, the jury got to see America’s most famous freezer: William Jefferson’s. The one  where FBI agents found $90,000 in marked FBI bills.

America's Most Famous Freezer
America’s Most Famous Freezer/Government Exhibit

By Jonathan Tilove and Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
ALEXANDRIA, VA. — The lead FBI agent in the investigation of former Rep. William Jefferson denied Wednesday that he had instructed cooperating witness Lori Mody to play on Jefferson’s emotions, get him drunk, and lure him into taking a bigger share of her company.

“That’s not on her, that’s on him, ” special agent Timothy Thibault said, explaining that Jefferson continued to escalate his demands for a piece of Mody’s business even when he wasn’t under the influence of her wiles and wine.

In its redirect, the prosecution played a videotape from the four-hour, $1,023 dinner Mody and Jefferson shared at Galileo, a fancy Italian restaurant in Washington, D.C., on May 12, 2005, to show that it was Jefferson, not Mody, who was questioning the wait staff about the wine choices, and ordering a 1997 vintage.

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OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Woman Offers Undercover FBI Agent Swimming Pool and Gas Money to Kill Ex-Boyfriend

illinois-map1The FBI suggested this was the first time a murder-for-hire case began with text messaging. The woman wasn’t exactly offering the world for the murder: an above-ground swimming pool and $200 in gas money. She could have at least thrown in a couple inflatable rafts for the pool in the whole deal.

By Steve Schmadeke
Chicago Tribune reporter
CHICAGO — An Indiana woman offered an undercover FBI agent posing as a professional hit man her above-ground swimming pool and $200 in gas money to kill an ex-boyfriend who wanted custody of one of her children, federal authorities in Chicago charged Tuesday.

Heidi Friedburg, 30, and her current boyfriend, William C. Alexander, 31, of New Carlisle, Ind., were arrested Monday as they unloaded Friedburg’s disassembled swimming pool to seal the deal with the would-be hit man in a south suburban parking lot.

Ross Rice, the FBI spokesman in Chicago, said he believed it was the first murder-for-hire case that began with text messages — and without a doubt the first time a pool had been offered as payment.

“How low can we go?” said Rice, who indicated the swimming pool had been seized as evidence.

Shortly after her Illinois ex-boyfriend filed a paternity lawsuit, Friedburg asked a former co-worker via text message to help find a hit man, the criminal complaint stated. The co-worker contacted the FBI the same day.

For Full Story

Disbarred Lawyer Testifies that He Tipped Off Wrong People: Boston FBI and Police Detective

The ugliest chapter in the history of the Boston FBI continued to unravel in federal court in Boston where families are suing the government for allegedly failing to stop mobster/FBI informants from killing. In Tuesday’s testimony, a disbarred attorney said he started to suspect that the FBI and Boston police were crooked.

boston

By Shelley Murphy
Boston Globe Staff
BOSTON — A disbarred lawyer testified yesterday that he warned an FBI agent and a Boston police detective in 1980 that a bookmaker was poised to drop a dime on a drug-dealing ring involving corrupt police officers and South Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger.

The bookmaker, Louis Litif, was shot to death one to four weeks later, on April 12, 1980, according to the former lawyer, Kevin Curry of Winchester.

“I began to figure out in my mind that I might very well have tipped the wrong people off,” said Curry, testifying in a federal trial over wrongful death suits filed against the government by Litif’s family and the families of two women Bulger allegedly killed. Curry first reported the information to investigators a decade ago.

Curry testified that he was representing a drug dealer when Litif offered to be a witness in the case. He said Litif professed to be taking drugs out of Boston Police Headquarters, with the help of corrupt officers, and giving them to a South Boston operation controlled by Bulger. At the time, Litif was awaiting trial on a murder charge and was looking to cut a deal, he said.

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Jurors See Video of Informant Handing Rep. William Jefferson $100,000

Nearly everyone has heard about the marked $90,000 in FBI money FBI agents found in Jefferson’s home freezer on Aug. 3, 2005. On Tuesday, jurors saw an FBI video of a government informant handing $100,000 to Jefferson in a brief case. When agents raided the freezer, $10,000 of that payoff was missing. The prosecution hopes the video leaves an impression with jurors. It’s also interesting to note how careful Jefferson was during the conversation with the informant, Lori Mody.

The case gained notoriety after the FBI found $90,000 in Jefferson's freezer

The case gained notoriety after the FBI found $90,000 in Jefferson's freezer

By Jonathan Tilove and Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Jurors in the corruption trial of former Rep. William Jefferson saw a videotape Tuesday of the congressman accepting a briefcase packed with $100,000 in cash that prosecutors say was intended as the down payment on a bribe to the vice president of Nigeria.

Four days later, on Aug. 3, 2005, FBI agents found $90,000 of the marked bills stashed in the freezer at Jefferson’s Washington home.

Four times, from four different camera angles, the prosecution played the July 30, 2005, videotape of Jefferson receiving the briefcase from Lori Mody, the Virginia businesswoman who was his partner in a Nigerian telecommunications venture. Mody had brought the briefcase to their rendezvous in the parking lot of a Ritz Carlton Hotel in suburban Virginia.

“Would you like to take a peek at it, or whatever?” Mody asked as Jefferson removed the briefcase from the car trunk.

“I would not, ” replied Jefferson.

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FBI Report Says Mortgage Fraud Problem Continues to Grow

istock_000007759741xsmall1By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – The mortgage fraud problem is growing and continues to plague the crippled real estate market.

The FBI on Tuesday released the 2008 Mortgage Fraud Report which showed that mortgage fraud Suspicious Activity Reports increased 36 percent to 63,713 during fiscal year 2008, compared to 46,717 during the same period the year before.

“Mortgage fraud hurts borrowers, financial institutions, and legitimate homeowners,” Assistant Director Kevin Perkins of the FBI Criminal Investigative Division said in a prepared statement.
“The FBI, in conjunction with our law enforcement, regulatory, and industry partners, continues to diligently pursue perpetrators of mortgage fraud schemes.”

According to an FBI press release, other key findings in the report include:
•As of FY 2008, the western region of the United States had the most pending FBI mortgage fraud-related investigations.
•The top 10 mortgage fraud states for 2008 were California, Illinois, Texas, Georgia, Ohio, Colorado, Maryland, Florida, Missouri, and New York.
•Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia were newly identified as having significant mortgage fraud problems.
•Criminals continued using old schemes, including property flipping, builder-bailouts, short sales, and foreclosure rescues. Additionally, in response to tighter lending practices, they facilitated new schemes, such as reverse mortgage fraud, credit enhancements, condo conversion, loan modifications, and pump and pay.

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FBI Investigating Inglewood, Calif. Police Shooting

The Justice Department Civil Rights Division is already looking into the department. And the Los Angeles Times found last year that 5 of 11 people shot and killed by the department since 2003 were unarmed. Something needs to change there.

inglewood-police1

By Ari B. Bloomekatz
Los Angeles Times

The FBI has opened a criminal investigation into the Inglewood Police Department’s fatal shooting of 31-year-old Marcus Smith in May.

The criminal probe, which was announced by the city in late June, is at least the third ongoing investigation into the department’s use of deadly force. The FBI confirmed that it had opened the investigation, but would not discuss it.

The civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington is already looking into the department’s patterns and practices. The Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review, which monitors the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, is also looking at the Inglewood department’s training, supervision, policies and protocol at the city’s request.

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Calif. Man Pleads Guilty to Fed Charges of Posting Hollywood Films on Internet

benjamin-buttons

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

If there’s any place on earth that takes the illegal distribution of movies seriously, it’s the Los Angeles area.

Derek Hawthorne, 21, is learning that the hard way.

Hawthorne pleaded guilty Monday before U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner in Los Angeles to two felony counts of illegally uploading copyrighted works. He was busted by the U.S. Secret Service.

Authorities charged that Hawthorne uploaded on the Internet for all to see “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Australia”, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The movies had been released in the theaters, but had yet to be released on DVD. Sentencing is set for Sept. 28.

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Alaska FBI Says Sarah Palin Not Under Investigation

Gov. Palin/state photo

Gov. Palin/state photo

Strike that off the list of reasons Sarah Palin may have resigned…

By Josh Meyer
Los Angeles Times

A day after Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin resigned, a federal official in her home state dismissed one potential explanation for her sudden and unexpected resignation: a rumored FBI investigation into the former Wasilla mayor on public corruption charges.

Despite rumors of a looming controversy after the Republican governor’s surprise announcement Friday that she would leave office this month, some of them published in the blogosphere, the FBI’s Alaska spokesman said the bureau had no investigation into Palin for her activities as governor, as mayor or in any other capacity.

“There is absolutely no truth to those rumors that we’re investigating her or getting ready to indict her,” Special Agent Eric Gonzalez said in a phone interview Saturday. “It’s just not true.” He added that there was “no wiggle room” in his comments for any kind of inquiry.

The FBI has been active in mounting corruption investigations in Alaska, some to see whether local, state and federal lawmakers illegally received favors, money or free construction work from businesses or people seeking favors.

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