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FBI

FBI Agents Raid Ga. Peanut Processing Plant Linked to Salmonella

That such a product so beloved by Americans could become a symbol of death is unthinkable. The FBI is now working the case.

By JIM DRINKARD
Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Federal agents on Monday raided a Georgia peanut processing plant linked to the nationwide salmonella outbreak that has prompted one of the largest product recalls in U.S. history.
The FBI executed search warrants at both the plant in Blakely, Ga., and at Peanut Corp. of America’s headquarters in Lynchburg, Va., according to a senior congressional aide with knowledge of the raids. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The plant has been identified as the source of the salmonella that has sickened hundreds and killed as many as eight people.
For Full Story

Philly FBI Agent Shoots and Kills Man During Undercover Investigation

The shooting stunned the neighborhood in Northeast Philly.

By CBS3.com
PHILADELPHIA — A FBI agent fatally shot a man during an undercover investigation in Northeast Philadelphia Monday afternoon.
The shooting happened in the 900 block of Borbeck Avenue in the city’s Fox Chase section at about 3:00 p.m.
According to reports, the FBI and the Major Crimes Unit of Philadelphia were doing undercover surveillance as part of an investigation into bank robberies.
Sources said the suspect under surveillance, 48-year-old Daniel Trinsey, exited his girlfriend’s home and pulled out a replica of a Glock. FBI agents, believing the gun was real, instructed him to drop the weapon, but investigators said he refused.
An agent fired several shots, fatally wounding Trinsey on the front lawn.
Sources said Trinsey had a long criminal history and served seven years in prison for a bank robbery.
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FBI Raided Virginia Defense Lobbying Firm With Close Ties to Rep. John Murtha

Rep. John Murtha/gov. photo

Rep. John Murtha/gov. photo

The real question is: Are the feds focusing in on Rep. John Murtha, the influential pol from Pennsylvania?


By Emma Schwartz and Justin Rood
ABC News

The FBI raided the offices of a defense lobbying firm with close ties to Democratic Rep. John Murtha (Penn.), sources tell ABC News.
PMA Group
The FBI searched the Virginia headquarters of the PMA Group in November, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. PMA was founded by former Murtha aide Paul Magliochetti and specializes in winning earmarked taxpayer funds for its clients.
Good government groups have long criticized Murtha’s cozy relationship with a handful of lobbyists and defense firms, ties that see millions of dollars in government spending go out from Murtha’s office, and hundreds of thousands in campaign donations come in. Murtha has said his earmarking has helped revive his economically depressed district.

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RNC Chair Michael Steele Says FBI Winding Down Probe into Payment to Sister

Nothing like starting out your new job with a good Washington scandal.

By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Michael Steele/ rnc photo

Michael Steele/ rnc photo

WASHINGTON — Michael S. Steele, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, said yesterday that there was nothing improper in a payment of more than $37,000 to his sister’s company for work on his 2006 Senate campaign and that he would work with the FBI “to clear up my good name.”
In his first public comments on the inquiry, Steele said on ABC’s “This Week” that the FBI is “winding this thing down,” although he did not explain how he knew that.
In recent days, federal agents have contacted his sister, Monica Turner, according to a spokesman for Steele. Steele said those contacts were for “purposes of closing out” the matter. He said he will be “proactive” in gathering information to give to the FBI.
“I’m not going to wait for them to come to me,” Steele said. “I’m going to take it to them. I’m going to give them everything that they think they need, and if that’s not enough, we’ll give them more, because I want to clear up my good name. This is not the way I intend to run the RNC, with this over my head. We’re going to dispense with it immediately.”
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Las Vegas Man Who Claims to Be ex-FBI Informant Files $54 Million Lawsuit Against Government

Anthony Martin claims his cover was blown. Does he have a legitimate claim? The answers may surface in a lawsuit he’s filed in which he also calls the witness protection program a “sham.”

By Ken Ritter
Associated Press
LAS VEGAS – A man who claims to be a former FBI informant has filed a $54 million federal lawsuit against the government, saying his life is in danger because his identity was compromised after he went undercover to help the agency.
“I was disclosed,” said Anthony Martin, 63, who described himself as a retired bank robber and convicted felon.
Martin said he volunteered to work undercover for the FBI after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He said he was installed as a taxi driver in Las Vegas and provided information that led to the arrests and convictions of at least four “people entering the country illegally” on charges including fabricating false passports.
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Read Federal Lawsuit

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Some Agents Critical of “DEA” Show

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The show “DEA” on Spike TV has all the hallmarks of a public relations bonanza for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Slick editing, heart-thumping action and heroic portrayals of gun-toting agents.

In fact, the DEA credited  the first season with generating more than 13 million hits on its website and helping bolster its image and recruiting efforts.

But some agents — and some retired ones– aren’t so gung ho. In fact, they’re downright critical of the one- hour show, which launched its second  season Feb. 10 and is being produced by Size 12 Productions and Al Roker Entertainment – yes, Al Roker as in the Today show’s morning jester.

For one, the critics say they’re uncomfortable seeing the inner workings of the agency exposed on tv, and they’re none too happy watching potential informants on the tube even if faces are blurred and the informants sign waivers to grab 15 minutes of questionable fame.

“I wouldn’t let anybody do that with my informants,” said one veteran DEA agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

On top of all that, current and former agents say the show oversimplifies the agency’s mission by showing quick hit cases –or what’s known in the business as buy-busts — instead of the agency’s main staple: long-term investigations involving big-time national and international drug traffickers. Those cases often involve months or even years of investigative work.

Lawrence Gallina, former chief of domestic operations for the DEA, who retired from the agency in 2002, commented on the show, saying he fears that people who know little about the DEA “may come up with the wrong impression of what the agency does.”

Admittedly, he said, it’s part of the DEA’s mission to work with local law enforcement tasks forces on smaller cases that impact the community. “It’s an important function, but not the primary function” of DEA, which is to “bring to justice international and national major drug trafficking organizations.”

Whatever the shortcomings, DEA officials say the show is a good thing.

“We’re trying to be more transparent in the 9/11 era, ” says DEA agent Rich Isaacson, a spokesman for the Detroit office. “The DEA is trying a lot of different projects to get our name out in the public eye, similar to what the FBI has been doing for years.”

The agency is promoting the second season with Hollywood hype.

In a recent press release, special agent in charge Mary Irene Cooper, DEA’s chief of Congressional Affairs, said: “If you liked the first season of ‘DEA’, you’ll love the second season. Season II delivers more episodes, more action, more dope and more money than viewers have ever seen before. You’ll have a front row seat to DEA’s hard-charging, relentless special agents risking their lives for the mission. They’ll captivate you with their gritty determination and leave you wanting more.”

Last year’s show was in Detroit and featured DEA agents working with local law enforcement on a drug task force. This season, the show will take place in the Northern New Jersey area – but not actually in Newark itself.

DEA agent Douglas S. Collier, a spokesman for the New Jersey Division, says this season, unlike last year’s, will show a different side of the DEA.

“We’ll show we’re all moms and dads and uncles and sisters and brothers,” he said. ” You’ll see more of the human side of the agents and task force officers.”

Not all the DEA divisions around the country are clamoring to be featured in the show. In fact, after the first season in Detroit, sources said, some divisions chiefs around the country – particularly ones headed by old-school agents – wanted nothing to do with being featured on the show. The producers finally got the New Jersey division to bite.

There’s a big reason why the show has focused on small “buy-busts” instead of big investigations.

The Justice Department has forbidden the DEA from exposing any cases on TV that would end up in federal court. So all the cases on the show go to state court, where often times, the cases are smaller and more local.

Agent Collier doesn’t dispute the criticism that the show does not fully show the breadth of the DEA’s mission. But he said considering the constraints of doing state cases, the agents had some significant busts.

In all, he said, the show does a good job of showing the dedication and “hard work of the men and women of the DEA.”

Shows featuring law enforcement are nothing knew. There’s the best known one, “Cops”, which first aired in 1989, and often features small time crimes. And ABC just launched a show “Homeland Security USA “, which has been less than impressive.

Lawrence Kobilinsky, a professor of forensic science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York said law enforcement agencies like the exposure.

“These agencies thrive on public relations, especially the FBI,” he said. ” Media attention is everything to these groups. There’s a lot of attention paid to the FBI and not a lot to ATF or DEA. I can understand how they would want a show like this.”

William Coonce, former special agent in charge of the DEA Detroit office, said: “I’m a believer in publicity to get the message of what we do in terms of hard work. We do a good job and we’re corruption free. And I believe we should pump ourselves up.”

But he said there should be limits and the DEA should “not just do it for the Hollywood splash that some shows do.”

And even the DEA agent who was critical of the show exposing potential informants, said he sees an upside to the program.

“It’s good to get your name out there,” he said, particularly when it comes to getting Congressional funding for the agency.

” I actually think they should have done something like this years ago. My thing is the FBI is always out in front, even when they get bad publicity, they spin it.”

But another DEA agent simply sees little benefit to the show.

“A lot of it, I thought it was kind of hokey,” he said. “Basically what good can come of it?”

The show airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Spike TV

FBI Confirms Frozen Remains of Lab Mice With Deadly Plague Were Lost

Most of the time, no one could give a rat’s behind about any missing mice. But when they’re infected with a deadly strain of plague, that’s another story.

BY TED SHERMAN AND JOSH MARGOLIN
Star-Ledger Staff
NEWARK — The frozen remains of two lab mice infected with deadly strains of plague were lost at a bioterror research facility at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark — the same high-security lab where three infected mice went missing four years ago.
The latest incident, which led to an FBI investigation, occurred in December but was never disclosed to the public.
University officials said there was no health threat.
The remains of the dead mice were contained in a red hazardous waste bag being stored in a locked freezer, according to the researchers. But an animal care supervisor could not account for them while preparing to sterilize and incinerate them.

For Full Story

U.S. Marshals Capture “Catch Me If You Can” Con Man in Cinci

Samuel Nickolas acted out occupational fantasies most of us only dream about or pay money to see in the movies like “Catch Me If You Can” starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio.

By Dan Horn
Cincinnati Enquirer
CINCINATTI — Federal authorities say that when Samuel Nickolas wanted a different life, he made one up.
Over the past six years, they say, the Harrison man pretended to be an airline pilot, an FBI agent and a medical doctor. They say he even performed a non-invasive medical procedure a few months ago after talking his way into a local doctor’s office.
His brief career as a physician ended abruptly Friday when U.S. Marshals arrested Nickolas for the third time since 2002 on charges of making false statements.
“We think he has a serious problem,” said Tim Oakley, an assistant U.S. attorney in Cincinnati.
U.S. Magistrate Tim Black ordered Nickolas to get a psychological evaluation and placed him under house arrest until his case is resolved in federal court.
For Full Story