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FBI

Chicago U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald and FBI Chief Testify in Mob Witness Protection Leak

Patrick Fitzgerald

Patrick Fitzgerald discussing a previous case

Things aren’t looking up for you when a high-profile U.S. Attorney and the special agent in charge of the local FBI testify against you in a federal trial. 

By Robert Mitchum
Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO — When Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose reported to Chicago FBI headquarters on Sept. 6, 2006, he thought he was receiving information on a terrorist fugitive authorities wanted him to pursue.

But when he opened the door of a conference room on the building’s 10th floor, he found the two most powerful men in Chicago federal law enforcement: U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald and Robert Grant, special agent-in-charge of the Chicago FBI office. There was a leak in the witness protection program, they told Ambrose, and investigators had traced the breach to him.

On Monday, Fitzgerald and Grant took turns on the witness stand at Ambrose’s trial, testifying about what happened on that morning 2½ years ago. After being confronted with evidence, Ambrose admitted to telling a family friend about the valuable witness he had protected twice, both officials testified.

“He said, ‘I bleeped up, I shot my mouth off … but it’s not what you think,'” Fitzgerald quoted Ambrose as saying that day.

 Fitzgerald’s nearly four hours of testimony was the centerpiece Monday as Ambrose’s trial entered its second week. Ambrose stands accused of an unprecedented leak of information from the highly confidential witness-protection program while he served on the security detail of hit man-turned-witness Nicholas Calabrese in 2002 and 2003.

Attorneys for Ambrose tried to block Fitzgerald’s and Grant’s testimony in pretrial hearings, arguing that he was not read his Miranda rights before the 2½-hour interview. But U.S. District Judge John Grady ruled that Ambrose’s admissions that day were valid evidence, clearing the way for Monday’s high-powered testimony.

For Full Story

Attys For Ex-Rep. William Jefferson Accuse Justice Dept. of Editing Recorded Conversations to Give “Misleading Impression”

The legal maneuvering in this case continues as trial approaches. So far, Jefferson’s attorneys haven’t been able to derail the case despite their best efforts.

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson

By Bruce Alpert and Jonathan Tilove
New Orleans Times-Picayune
WASHINGTON — Attorneys for former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson say the Justice Department has edited secretly recorded conversations to give a “misleading impression” of their client’s guilt in his upcoming corruption trial.

A defense brief, filed with U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, contains some previously unreleased taped conversations recorded in 2005 before Jefferson learned during an August raid of his house that he was being investigated by the FBI for allegedly seeking bribes in return for his help securing business contracts in Western Africa.

The brief provides both transcripts of the tape selections that the prosecution wants to play for the jury, as well as fuller transcripts that Jefferson’s attorneys say place his statements and actions in a fuller context. Some contain extensive profanity.

 For Full Story

Patrick James Maley to Head FBI’s Birmingham Division

birminghamBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The FBI has named Patrick James Maley, a chief inspector at headquarters, as the new special agent in charge of the Birmingham, Ala., division.  He replaces Carmen Adams.

Maley started his career in 1982 in the white collar squad in Charlotte. The following year he went to Portland where he investigated the division’s first bank failure, the FBI said.

He later went on to work in Baltimore, Louisville and headquarters, where in 2007  he was promoted to inspector of the Inspection Division, the FBI said.

FBI Snags Extortionist Using Trojan Software

computer-photo1The FBI managed to implant software on the computer of an individual threatening to extort money from several major communications companies, leading them straight to his doorstep. While the exact capabilities of the CIPAV (Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier) software are unknown, it’s encouraging to see the FBI using technology in innovative ways to fight the bad guys.

By Gregg Keizer
Computerworld.com
The FBI used spyware to catch a Massachusetts man who tried to extort money from Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp. by cutting 18 cables carrying voice and data in 2005, documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Wired.com revealed yesterday.

Although the man’s name was redacted in the documents provided to the Web site, their description of the case matches that of Danny M. Kelly, an unemployed engineer who at the time lived in Chelmsford, Mass. According to federal court records, Kelly was accused of cutting a total of 18 above-ground communications cables between November 2004 and February 2005 as part of a plot to extort money from Verizon and Comcast.

“Kelly sent a series of anonymous letters to Comcast and Verizon, in which he took responsibility for the cable cuts and threatened to continue and increase this activity if the companies did not establish multiple bank accounts for him and make monthly deposits into these accounts,” the original complaint read.

According to the complaint, Kelly demanded $10,000 monthly from each company, and he told the firms to post the bank account information on a private Web page that he demanded they create.

For Full Story

Tension Between FBI and American-Islamic Community Grows

mosqueTension between the FBI and the American-Islamic community continues to grow, damaging inroads that have been made since Sept. 11, 2001. Both sides need to do something to turn it around.

Paloma Esquivel
Los Angeles Times
As they sipped tea and nibbled on dates, more than 100 men and women listened to a litany of speakers sounding the same message: The FBI is not your friend.

“We’re here today to say our mosques are off limits,” Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations for Greater Los Angeles, told the crowd last month at an Anaheim mosque.

“Our Koran is off limits,” Ayloush said. “Our youth, who they try to radicalize, are off limits. Now is the time to tell them, ‘We’re not going to let this happen anymore.’ ”

Such strong words from a man who once was a vocal advocate of ties with federal law enforcement was yet one more signal that the fragile relationship between Muslim American groups and the FBI is being tested.

In the months and years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, FBI officials met privately with Muslim leaders, assuring them that a spate of hate crimes would be vigorously investigated and at the same time asking for help in the campaign against terrorism. Local leaders promised to encourage cooperation.

For Full Story

Commentary: 14 Years After the Oklahoma Bombing, We Must Not Forget the Potential of Homegrown Terrorism

 

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — One Friday, two days after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, I was sitting at my desk at the Detroit News  in downtown Detroit when I got a tip that the FBI was raiding a farmhouse in Michigan, and it had something to do with the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma.

In short time, I hopped in a car with another reporter and rushed northward up I-75 to Decker, Mi., a rural farming community two hours outside Detroit, where a guy named Tim McVeigh had hung out with two brothers named James and Terry Nichols.

By the time I arrived, the quiet little community,  flush with lush farms and pickup trucks with rifle racks,  was swarming with reporters and television trucks. Everyone – including the locals — was fixated on the farmhouse nearby that had been  cordoned off and was full of FBI and ATF agents gathering evidence.

I stood on the dusty farm road that day thinking that homegrown terrorism had stormed America in a way never seen before. Eight federal agents were dead. Another 160 in the federal building were too.

I spent the next week in the area of the state known as “The  Thumb”, tracking down leads, staying in a motel in nearby Cass City, where you checked in at the front desk of the bowling alley across the street. (I bowled one of my highest games – 217).

After that week, I went up every week to follow up on leads and to talk to James Nichols, the brother of convicted bomber Terry Nichols. I usually stopped by the Decker Tavern, grabbed a cheap can of beer and talked to folks. The bartender remembered serving beers to Tim McVeigh. She even recalled his brand.

The first night there, a fellow reporter John Bebow and I headed to the Decker Tavern to talk to locals. A Detroit News photographer accompanied us, Joe DeVera, who was Filipino. The bar and the town had suddenly been transformed from an all white community to a United Nations; foreign reporters from Spain and France; Asians , Black and Jews.

The cash register frantically rang all night at the tavern. But the locals seemed less than enthusiastic.  As Joe, the photographer, headed to the bathroom, an elderly local patron at the bar turned to another and noted that there was a “Gook” in the bar.

It struck me that some of the locals had spent their lives avoiding the rest of America – particularly Detroit. Now, with the snap of a finger, the rest of America had come to them. It was an eye-opener to meet the local militias, the unknown Americans that hated the federal government, the farmers who felt they’d been screwed by the government.

The next day, on a Saturday, the swarm of reporters returned to the farmhouse. There were undercover ATF agents trying to blend in, trying to meet the local militias. I knew some of them from back in Detroit. In at least one instance, one those undercover agents got an invite to dinner at one of the locals. When he saw me on a dirt road near the farm, he gave me a look like “stay away, don’t blow my cover.” I obliged.

Eventually, Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted.

Still, to this day, I’m not sure the whole story has been told.

Whatever the case, it’s interesting to note how the homegrown terrorists quickly took a backseat to al Qaeda and the likes after Sept. 11, 2001. For the majority in America, the threat of the Tim McVeighs seemed to have faded.

But one thing we must remember: As unemployment rises, as the economy sinks and as hate groups try to use the Obama election as a recruiting tool, America and federal agencies like the FBI and ATF must not forget or take lightly these domestic hate groups or the fringe members or the “lone wolf” wannabes.  You just never know what they’re capable of.

Just ask the Oklahomans.

New New Orleans FBI Chief David Welker Low Key So Far

David Welker

David Welker

David Welker, head of the New Orleans FBI, may be low key, but if things goes as planned in a state ripe with corruption, he’ll be a household name before you know it.
By Brendan McCarthy
New Orleans Times-Picayune
NEW ORLEANS — Like countless times before, the news conference began with six or so middle-age men dressed in dark, natty suits standing behind the lectern in a nondescript room, high up in a federal office building.

An aide handed out a press release, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten delved into facts of the criminal case, and down the line, the head of each law enforcement agency stepped to the microphone and lauded the efforts of his subordinates.

Except for one. The silent one was the newly appointed head of the local FBI office, perhaps the most powerful man in the room — and possibly the only one who doesn’t care whether you know it.

Meet David Welker, new face of the FBI in New Orleans.

Welker, 54, carries the lofty title of special agent in charge, but he isn’t easily recognized in a sidewalk crowd or on the society page.

A native of Shamokin, Pa., with a degree in Bible studies, Welker left the manicured streets and suburban sprawl of Tampa, Fla., last summer for a city where public corruption seems a pastime and violent crime is a brand. Expectations are high; citizens expect a steady flow of indictments.

In his few months in New Orleans, the questions have become commonplace. What’s next?

“People are waiting for that big one to fall,” Welker acknowledged.

For Full Story

FBI Names Agent Daniel Roberts Assist. Director of Criminal Justice Information Services

fbi1By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Daniel D. Roberts, a Detroit native, has been named assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division.

Roberts, who  replaces the retiring Thomas E. Bush, III,  was most recently Deputy Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division, the FBI said.

“Dan brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position and will continue the legacy of CJIS that involves sharing data with over 18,000 law enforcement partners,” FBI Director Robert E. Mueller III said in a statement.

Roberts started his career in 1987 in Chicago, where he served as a primary SWAT team member and as a firearms instructor, the FBI said.

Eventually, in March 2000, Roberts was assigned to FBI headquarters as a unit chief of the Chief of the Violent Crimes/Fugitive Unit. He later became an assistant special ageent in charge in Salt Lake City
In June 2004, Roberts became special agent in charge of the Detroit FBI office.