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FBI

Fed Prosecutor Portrays Ex-Congressman Jefferson As Shakedown Artist

Prosecutor Mark Lytle in Opening Statement/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News

Prosecutor Mark Lytle in Opening Statement/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News

By Rachel Leven and Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
ALEXANDRIA, Va.

— A federal prosecutor  in opening statements Tuesday morning portrayed ex-Rep.  William J. Jefferson as a shakedown artist desperate for money to cover his messy finances that included  $40,000 in bank overdraft fees and penalties and a $62,000 credit card debt.

“It is a startling and often disheartening account of public corruption at the highest levels of our government,” said assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Lytle.

But Jefferson’s attorney Robert Trout responded during opening remarks  saying that the government tried unsuccessfully to set up Jefferson in a sting and  the ex-Congressman “did not take a  bribe…did not solicit a bribe…is not guilty of any of these charges.”

“You will hear no agreement…in exchange for anything of value,” Trout said.

The salvos came at the start of trial before a packed courtroom. The trial is expected to last four to six weeks.

Prosecutor Lytle laid out the government’s case that alleges that Jefferson was involved in at least 11 corrupt schemes involving U.S. and African companies. He said in some circles the influential congressman was known as the “gateway to Africa.”

Lytle said in exchange for using his Congressional influence, Jefferson and  his family received about $385,000 in bribe payments and they stood to ultimately get hundreds of millions of dollars. Jefferson faces 16 public corruption counts and has maintained his innocence.

Trout said the government tried to get Jefferson in a sting by having wealthy Virginia  businesswoman Lori Mody wear a wire. Mody had invested in iGate, a Kentucky based high-tech firm and went to the FBI complaining that the company’s owner Vernon Jackson and Jefferson were ripping her off.

Read more »

Arthur Balizan to Head FBI’s Portland, Or. Division

portland-mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Arthur Balizan, an inspector in the FBI’s Inspection Division, has been named special agent in charge of the Portland, Or., Division.

Balizan replaces David Ian Miller, who will retire at the end of the month, the FBI said.

Balizan started his career in the FBI in the early 1980s in the San Francisco Division and went on to the San Juan office in 1983 to work on “terrorism matters”, the FBI said.

He bounced around to the Albuquerque Division and then became a supervisory special agent assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia as the assistant project director for the U.S. Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Training and Assistance Program, the FBI said.

He later took on other duties in Colombia. After returning to the states, taking on various jobs, he became assistant special agent in charge of the Sacramento office.

In 2006, he served as one of eight inspectors at FBI headquarters.

Before coming to the FBI, he worked as a police officer in northern California, the FBI said. He has three adult children.

FBI Probing Foreclosure Scam That Involves Bogus Rental Units

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

FBI and NYPD Train For Terror Attacks

nypd-badge1No matter how many times you do it, you can’t train enough for a terrorism attack. There’s always variables that can arise during the real thing that never came up during training. The more you train, the more variables you can anticipate.

By Tom Hays
Associated Press
NEW YORK
— The FBI was scrambling.

Agents had intercepted information about a possible terrorist attack in Manhattan, including a diagram showing a mysterious device. The raw intelligence was relayed to experts in Washington, who offered a daunting diagnosis: “You have a problem.”

As chilling as that sounded, the situation wasn’t real. But authorities say it could be, and what followed over the next two days was an ambitious stress test of the city’s line of defense against a radiological or nuclear terrorist attack.

The exercise earlier this week involved hundreds of New York Police Department officers and FBI agents trained at detecting threats, along with an elite unit of federal weapons experts expected – with the approval of the U.S. attorney general – to swoop in by plane and defuse them.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Boston Judge Orders Govern. to Pay $6.25 Mil As a Result of FBI’s Ties to Mobster Informants

The embarrassing fallout from the FBI’s shady  relationship with mobster/informants like Whitey Bulger and “Rifleman” Flemmi continues to haunt the agency. Here’s the latest blow.

By Shelley Murphy
Boston Globe Staff
The "Rifleman" Flemmi in 1965

The "Rifleman" Flemmi in 1965

BOSTON — After years of legal maneuverings by Justice Department lawyers and a three-day nonjury trial, a federal judge ordered the government to pay $6.25 million to the widow and children of Richard J. Castucci, a Revere nightclub owner whose slaying was orchestrated by two of the FBI’s most prized informants, James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi.

Last year, a judge found that the FBI was to blame in the 1976 killing.

“I’m just glad it’s over, that’s all,” said Sandra Castucci, 72, shaking as she wiped away tears and was hugged by her children after leaving the courtroom.

The Castuccis’ wrongful death suit was the third case brought on behalf of victims of Bulger and Flemmi to make it to trial, and all have ended with significant judgments against the government.

For Full Story

FBI Was Aware of Holocaust Museum Shooter But Had No Open Investigation

FBI's Joseph Persichin Jr./ticklethewire.com photo
FBI’s Joseph Persichin Jr./ticklethewire.com photo

With economy in the dumps and the election of a first African American president, we can expect to see more of the white supremacist movement. We need to keep a closer eye on these groups and individuals who continue to spew hate. As a side note, it’s sad that an 88-year-old man missed the point of life and continued to hate so late in life.

In a statement yesterday, Joseph Persichini Jr., head of the FBI’s Washington field office said: “The FBI did not have an open investigation on Mr. von Brunn, but we were aware of him and that he had a website that espoused hatred against various groups and government entities. Law enforcement is challenged every day to balance the civil liberties of U.S. citizens against the need to investigate activities of possible criminal conduct. No matter how offensive to some, we are keenly aware that expressing views by itself is not a crime and the protections afforded under the Constitution cannot be compromised.”

By Carrie Johnson and Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — The FBI was “aware” of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting suspect and his history of hateful writings about religious and ethnic minorities, but authorities had not opened a criminal investigation of him before Wednesday’s deadly attack, officials said yesterday.

The case of James W. von Brunn, who had a decades-old felony conviction for storming the Federal Reserve headquarters in a bid to kidnap board members and propagate his views against blacks and Jews, underscores the challenge that a rising tide of Web-based white supremacists poses to law enforcement, which walks a fine line between policing potential violence and respecting free speech, experts say.

Authorities including the Department of Homeland Security and police in New York and Los Angeles asked for help from Jewish leaders and maintained heightened patrols yesterday around synagogues and universities.

In an e-mail alert to state and local agencies Wednesday after von Brunn allegedly shot and killed a Holocaust museum guard, Homeland Security and the FBI wrote that “this appears to be an isolated incident” involving a lone suspect that appeared to have no connection to terrorism. In a statement yesterday, the FBI called the shooting a case of “domestic terrorism,” and Homeland Security said the earlier statement was premature.

For Full Story

Update: 29-Year Old Dies in Va. While Taking Physical Test to Become FBI Agent; Colleagues are Devastated

fbi1By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – A 29-year-old special agent with the D.C. Inspector General’s Office collapsed and died Wednesday in suburban Virginia while taking a FBI physical stress test to become an agent, according to sources familiar with the incident.

Lloyd Hodge, who had been an investigator with the D.C. Inspector General’s Office for about four years, and worked on an FBI public corruption task force,  was going through the steps necessary to become an FBI agent, which included the physical test on Wednesday.

The incident happened in the Tysons Corner area in Fairfax County outside of Washington, according to sources familiar with the incident. The FBI did not disclose the cause of death or other details.

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon,   FBI spokesman Michael P. Kortan said:

“The FBI is greatly saddened by the tragic death of our task force colleague and applicant who was well into the process of becoming an FBI agent. We have extended our sympathy and support to the Hodge family.”

Colleagues at the Inspector General’s Office were devastated by news of his death, said Austin Andersen, the deputy D.C. Inspector General.

“He was very popular throughout the office,  admired and respected by everyone. And of course his colleagues are devastated,” Andersen said.

“He worked on a lot of major cases and was exceptional,” he added.

Andersen said it wasn’t unusual for young investigators in his office to move on to the federal agencies like the FBI.

“We encourage that,” he said. “We’re happy if they’re able to do well. We would have been very happy for (Lloyd) if that had come to pass.”

A 64-Year Old Calif. Man Really Loved Being a Lawyer But There Was One Big Problem

gavel22By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
Let’s face it, Harold Goldstein of Newport Beach, Calif.,  really really loved being an attorney.

Really.

One big problem: He didn’t have a law degree.

In May, he was sprung from prison after serving time for posing as an attorney.  Last Sunday,  the FBI arrested the 64-year-old man at his home for violating his parole by  posing as an attorney once again, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. On Monday, a federal judge ordered him held without bond.

In 2005, Goldstein,  originally got 13 years in years in prison for making false declarations to the court and sending solicitation letters to inmates advertising his legal services. He stole the real identity of a Northern California lawyer. His sentence was eventually reduced.

On May 1, he was released from prison. While out, the government charges, that Goldstein  posted a job ad on Craigslist.  He told applicants that he was retired or semi-retired and was looking to contract with an attorney who could do in-court legal work, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

A preliminary hearing is set for June 22. Hopefully, he won’t represent himself during the proceeding.