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June 2021


How to Become a Bounty Hunter


Hoover’s FBI Investigated Jack Valenti’s Sexuality

Jack Valenti/cnn

Jack Valenti/cnn

Thirty seven years after his death, we’re still getting a glimpse into the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover and just how petty the agency was and how it investigated things that had nothing to do with public safety or national security.

By Joe Stephens
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — When Beltway insider Jack Valenti died two years ago at age 85, he was playing the role of intermediary between Washington and Hollywood as the theatrical, snowy-haired president of the Motion Picture Association of America.

But back in 1964, Valenti was a Houston ad executive newly installed at the White House as a top aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson. And J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI found itself quietly consumed with the vexing question of whether Valenti was gay.

Previously confidential FBI files show that Hoover’s deputies set out to determine whether Valenti, who had married two years earlier, maintained a relationship with a male commercial photographer. Republican Party operatives reportedly were pursuing a parallel investigation with the help of a retired FBI agent, bureau files show. No proof was ever found, but the files, obtained by The Washington Post under the federal Freedom of Information Act, provide further insight into the conduct of the FBI under Hoover, for whom damaging personal information on the powerful was a useful tool in his interactions with presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Richard M. Nixon.
For Full Story

Chicago FBI Gives NBC Executive Larry Wert Citizen Award

CHICAGO — Larry Wert, President of the Central and Western Region of NBC Local Media, is the 2008 Chicago recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award, the FBI in Chicago announced.
Commenting on the award, in a prepared statement, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said Telemundo Chicago (WSNS-TV), a subsidiary of NBC Universal, has provided has provided invaluable help in the past year by airing its “Unsolved Crimes” segment.
Each of the 56 FBI field offices give the award to a citizen.

To Read Press Release

Prosecution Team Replaced in Sen. Stevens Case

This prosecution team had so many screw ups that it seems this was the only logical move. Can this save the government from a mistrial or losing the case all together? Who knows. There’s still the issue of an FBI agent alleging government misconduct in the case.

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Six Justice Department prosecutors will no longer participate in key legal proceedings involving former senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who was convicted last year on corruption charges.
The move follows a hearing last week in which U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan held four prosecutors in contempt for failing to give defense attorneys documents concerning allegations of misconduct by members of the government’s legal team.
The Justice Department says the prosecutors will no longer be part of legal proceedings dealing with the allegations. They will continue to play a role in other post-trial legal issues, however.
Laura Sweeney, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said, “It was determined that this was the appropriate action.” She declined to comment further.
For Full Story

Some Dispute FBI Agent’s Allegations of Government Misconduct in Sen. Stevens Case

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens before his defeat
Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens before his defeat

It’s hard to figure out what was more interesting: the trial or the post-trial with even juicier allegations of government wrongdoing.

Anchorage Daily News

As the Justice Department prepares its official response to the FBI whistle-blower complaint that surfaced in the case of former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, people with first-hand knowledge of some of its issues, including some named in the complaint, say it represents overblown concerns of an inexperienced agent.
The unusual complaint was brought by FBI agent Chad Joy, one of the key investigators in the five-year-old federal inquiry into corruption in Alaska politics. He accused the lead agent in the broad investigation and several prosecutors in the Stevens case of wrongdoing.
One former confidential source in the corruption investigation took issue with some of the facts alleged in the complaint by Joy. The source, Frank Prewitt, a former state corrections commissioner, said in an interview recently that he never observed FBI case agent Mary Beth Kepner, the chief target of the complaint, cross the line into improper or unethical conduct.
For Full Story

Read Latest Gov. Motion That Includes Info on the Replacement of Prosecution Team  Filed 2-16-09

Family of Slain Border Agent Happy With Arrest in Mexico

The family of the victim is happy authorities made the arrest. But they said they’ll be happier when the suspect is on American soil.

By Adriana M. Chávez
El Paso Times
EL PASO, Tex. — For the family of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar Jr., who was killed last year near Yuma, Ariz., the arrest of a man suspected of killing him comes as happy news.
But the man’s arrest doesn’t end the grief or bring closure for his family.
On Wednesday, Mexican federal agents arrested Jesus Navarro Montes, 22, near Zihuatenejo, a Mexican resort town, in an operation coordinated with the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI said. The U.S. government is seeking his extradition on drug charges.
FBI agents in San Diego want to question Navarro, a Mexican citizen, about Aguilar’s death in January 2008 near southeastern California’s Imperial Sand Dunes, where marijuana smugglers have long mixed in with recreational dune riders.

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Ex-ICE Agent Who Served in Venezuela Gets 7 1/2 Years For Bribes

By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON — Gerardo Chavez knew how to get coveted posts at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He was a special supervisory special agent and attaché in Caracas, Venezuela.
He also knew how to make money illegally.
On Friday a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., sentenced him to 7 ½ years in prison for taking kickbacks for a no-bid U.S. government contract for defective armor 4-wheel drive vehicles in South America and the Carribean .
According to court documents, Chavez, 46, of Clifton, Va., served in Venezuela from 2003 to 2007.
During that period, he used his position to steer $2.8 million in “sole source U.S. Government contracts” to a Caracas-based firm Blincar for the armored vehicles, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. In turn, he got a $172,000 kickback from the owner of Blincar and was hoping to get $87,000 more before the crime was uncovered by the FBI and Homeland Security, authorities said.
The FBI eventually conducted ballistic tests on the armored cars and found the armoring to be defective, authorities charged. Consequently, the government said, 45 armored vehicles were replaced at a cost of more than $5 million.
Authorities said that in addition to the kickbacks, Chavez also received about $250,000 in unreported funds outside of his salary.
He wired that money and the kickback funds to California in his brother-in-laws’s name to purchase and remodel a home in Clifton, Va., authorities alleged.


Federal Judge Holds Justice Lawyers in Contempt in Sen. Stevens Case

Judge Emmet Sullivan/court photo

Judge Emmet Sullivan/court photo

It was just a matter of time before this happened. The prosecution has had one misstep after another during and after the trial.

Anchorage Daily News
WASHINGTON — The judge who oversaw Ted Stevens’ corruption trial on Friday held in contempt four Justice Department prosecutors for failing to turn over documents to the former U.S. senator’s lawyers.
Calling their conduct “outrageous” as employees of “the largest law firm on the planet,” U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan told the Justice Department attorneys Friday afternoon that they must give the documents to Stevens’ legal team by 5 p.m.
Later in the afternoon, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department sent out an announcement saying, “The Government has complied with the court’s order and produced to defense counsel the documents discussed at today’s hearing. We will continue to litigate in court matters related to the jury’s conviction of Senator Stevens.”
The judge said he wasn’t going to address on Friday what sort of penalties the contempt citing will have for the Justice Department lawyers. They include the head of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, William Welch; the lead trial attorney in the case, Brenda Morris; the attorney who was handling the work product question within the Justice Department, Kevin Driscoll; and the chief of the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal appeals section, Patty Merkamp Stemler.
Sullivan told them he would address the questions of sanctions when the case concludes.
For Full Story

FBI Pleads for Public Help to Solve about 43 Civil-Rights Era Murders in Miss.

The FBI is turning to the public,  calling for help to bring some justice to a painful era of decades past. Will the calls fall on deaf ears? Very possible, but FBI director Robert Mueller III said he isn’t giving up.

Associated Press Writer
JACKSON, Miss. — The FBI pleaded for information Thursday about 43 unsolved civil rights-era slayings in Mississippi, saying time is running out because potential witnesses and suspects are growing old or dying.
The agency launched an initiative in 2006 to tackle cold cases from the mid-1950s to the late and 1960s, mostly in the South. Though the effort hasn’t resulted in any new prosecutions, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said his agency remains committed to it.
Officials from several state and federal agencies joined together in Mississippi to issue a call for help from the public.
“We owe it to the victims. We owe to the people,” said Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. “We owe it to future generations to know that we did everything we possibly could.”
Last year, President George W. Bush signed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, which gives the Justice Department more money to investigate such crimes.
Till was a black teenager slain in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman. No one has been convicted.
A grand jury examined evidence from a three-year FBI investigation but in 2007 declined to issue indictments.
U.S. Attorney Jim M. Greenlee, who handled the case, said even though no one was prosecuted, a grand jury saw all the evidence.
“We just couldn’t find any way of finding a federal crime (in the Till case), but I think that the process was … good,” Greenlee said. “You have to read through everything. It’s easy for people to say that they know this happened, but that’s hearsay. You have to find someone who actually saw it who can remember it. And then you’ve got to corroborate that.”
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Report Says Homeland Security’s Immigration Mission Undermined By Wasteful Spending Along the Southern Border (N.Y. Times)