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FBI

Two Sri Lankans in FBI Sting Plead to Buying Surface-to-Air Missles For Civil War Back Home

The intense civil war in Sri Lanka has spilled over beyond it’s borders. In this case, New York.

By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM
New York Times
NEW YORK — Two men from Sri Lanka who were about to go on trial in federal court in Brooklyn on terrorism charges pleaded guilty on Tuesday to plotting to buy shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles for a separatist group in their country.
The men, Thiruthanikan Thanigasalam and Sahilal Sabaratnam, who prosecutors said were acting at the direction of senior members of the group, the Tamil Tigers, in Sri Lanka, also pleaded guilty to attempting and conspiring to provide material support for the group, which the State Department has designated as a terrorist organization.
Mr. Thanigasalam, 40, and Mr. Sabaratnam, 29, entered their pleas before Raymond J. Dearie, the chief judge of United States District Court in Brooklyn, where opening statements were expected to begin on Wednesday.
The guilty pleas stem from a videotaped F.B.I. sting operation in 2006 in which the men sought to buy 10 Russian-made SA-18 heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles and 500 AK-47 assault rifles, prosecutors said. On Monday, two of their co-defendants pleaded guilty to similar charges. Jury selection had been under way in the case.
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Read Indictment

Two Pa. Judges Plead To Corruption Charges; Feds Say Probe Ongoing

Some how we’re rarely shocked by news of a crooked politician. But crooked judges? That’s just still hard to swallow. Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania, more courthouse indictments could be forthcoming.

MICHAEL RUBINKAM
The Associated Press
SCRANTON, Pa. – Two Pennsylvania judges agreed Monday to plead guilty to fraud charges accusing them of taking $2.6 million in kickbacks in return for placing juvenile offenders into certain detention facilities.
The plea agreements for Luzerne County President Judge Mark Ciavarella and Senior Judge Michael Conahan call for sentences of more than seven years in prison. Ciavarella resigned from the bench in a Jan. 23 letter to Gov. Ed Rendell. Conahan has agreed to resign within 10 days of a judge’s acceptance of the plea.
Authorities say the judges took kickbacks between 2003 and 2007 in exchange for guaranteeing the placement of juvenile offenders into facilities operated by PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care LLC. In some cases, Ciavarella ordered children into detention even when juvenile probation officers did not recommend it.
“They sold their oaths of offices to the highest bidders,” Deron Roberts, chief of the FBI’s Scranton office, said at a news conference Monday.
U.S. Attorney Martin Carlson stressed the charges were “the first developments in an ongoing investigation” into public corruption at the courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.
For Full Story

Jurors Asked About Sept. 11 in Trial Involving Plot to Blow Up FBI Offices

The ghost of Sept. 11 will forever leave a indelible mark on this country. Can jurors truly set aside the event when sitting on a jury involving suspected terrorists? That’s the question of the day down in Miami.

By CURT ANDERSON
Associated Press
MIAMI – Finding lingering emotions from the Sept. 11 terror attacks emerged as central to questioning prospective jurors Tuesday in the third trial of a group accused of plotting with al-Qaida to destroy Chicago’s Sears Tower and blow up FBI offices.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers want to ensure that the jurors ultimately chosen to hear the case against the six men accused of being a budding al-Qaida cell do not have biases because of the attacks more than seven years ago.
“Have the events of Sept. 11 or any other terrorist act affected you to such an extent that it would make it difficult for you to sit and listen to evidence in this case and be fair to both the government and the defendants?” was one question for the first 34 potential jurors.
Most jurors said they believed they could set aside any Sept. 11-related feelings and be impartial. But some were not so sure.
For Full Story

Breaking News: Ill. Senate Hears FBI Tapes in Blago Impeachment Trial

The Gov. Blago affair goes back and forth between highly entertaining and highly pathetic. And even if he’s removed from office, the show will go on. The man is an entertainer.

Fox News posts Blago-Meter

Fox News posts Blago-Meter

BY DAVE MCKINNEY, NATASHA KORECKI and CHRIS FUSCO
Chicago Sun-Times
SPRINGFIELD – Wiretaps of Gov. Blagojevich’s home phone and his former chief of staff’s cell phone allowed the world to hear for the first time this afternoon Blagojevich’s own voice allegedly discussing a shakedown of a potential campaign contributor.
Lon Monk, now a lobbyist, says on one of the tapes he got in the “face” of the potential contributor, horse racing executive John Johnston.
“I’m telling you, he’s gonna be good for it. I got in his face,” Monk tells the governor during a 9:09 a.m. call on Dec. 4, 2008.
Anticipation built in the moments before tapes were played for the first time in the Senate trial. The chamber grew quiet.
As senators listened to the four brief conversations, one senator chewed on his pen and looked ahead. Sen. Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora), smiled and shook his head as he heard the governor’s brother, Robert, tell Blagojevich that Johnston was “good for it” – an apparent reference to a $100,000 campaign contribution.

For Full Story

FBI Tape 1Transcript
FBI Tape 2Transcript
FBI Tape 3Transcript
FBI Tape 4Transcript

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Bush Rejected Pardons for Some Big Names

Duke Cunningham

Duke Cunningham

Nearly everyone expected Pres. Bush to show some generosity when it came to pardons in the waning days of his presidency. But apparently, the President wasn’t feeling that generous –or feared some pardons would come back to haunt him, as they did for Pres. Clinton.

By Josh Meyer
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — President George W. Bush, on his last full day in office, formally struck down the petitions for clemency of some high-profile politicians and businessmen, including former lawmakers Randall “Duke” Cunningham, Edwin Edwards and Mario Biaggi and “junk bond” financier Michael Milken, the Justice Department said today.
The chief of the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, Ronald Rodgers, confirmed the pardon rejections through a spokeswoman, in response to queries from The Times’ Washington Bureau.
The Justice Department said Bush also denied petitions for clemency for two men who became highly polarizing symbols of their eras. One of them was John Walker Lindh, the young American serving 20 years in prison for aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan at a time when it was fighting U.S. military forces just after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Bush also denied one of the longest-standing petitions for clemency, for Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment for the murder of two FBI agents during a 1975 shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. His application had been under consideration since 1993, current and former Justice Department officials said.
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The FBI Clashes With U.S. Secret Service Just For Fun

Mueller (left) and Sullivan

Mueller (left) and Sullivan

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – Competition between the FBI and U.S. Secret Service over the years hasn’t always been playful.
But this past Saturday it definitely was.
The two agencies squared off in a hockey game before a standing-room only crowd at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va., the practice rink of the Washington Capitals.
The game raised $9,000 for the family of Sam Hicks, the Pittsburgh FBI agent who was fatally shot last fall while serving a search warrant.  And oh yes, the FBI won 5-4 in overtime.
FBI Director Robert Mueller III skated on to the ice in an FBI hockey Jersey with Hick’s name on the back. U.S. Secret Service director Mark Sullivan, wearing a Secret Service hockey jersey, joined his team in warm ups, according to the FBI.
The two agencies had just worked elbow-to-elbow on the intense presidential inauguration.

Burlington Lawyer Tristram Coffin Nominated For Vermont U.S. Atty.

The mass replacement of U.S. Attorneys is underway across the country. Here’s the latest.

Tristram Coffin

Tristram Coffin

By Sam Hemingway
Burlington Free Press
BURLINGTON, Vt. — Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Friday he has nominated Burlington attorney Tristram J. Coffin to become Vermont’s next U.S. attorney.
“Tris Coffin is a perfect fit for a difficult job,” Leahy said in a statement released by his office. “He has a wide range of investigative and courtroom experience that will allow him to hit the ground running.”
The Free Press reported earlier this month that Coffin was a finalist for the job.
Coffin’s name will now be forwarded to the White House, and he will undergo a background check by the FBI. His appointment becomes official once the background check is completed, and President Barack Obama formally appoints him to the position.
For Full Story

FBI and IRS Raid Pa. Company With Close Ties to Rep. John Murtha

Rep. Murtha/official photo

Rep. Murtha/official photo

Congressman John P. Murtha has brought home the bacon to Pennsylvania, particularly to Kuchera Industries of Penn. He has also gotten loads of contributions from the company’s employees.

By JOHN BRESNAHAN
The Politico

Federal agents on Thursday raided the offices of a Pennsylvania government contractor with close ties to Rep. John P. Murtha, chairman of the powerful Defense panel on the House Appropriations Committee.
Agents from the FBI, IRS and Defense Criminal Investigative Service searched the offices of Kuchera Industries and Kuchera Defense Systems in three different locations in Pennsylvania.
Over the last several years, Murtha, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, has helped steer more than $100 million in contracts to Kuchera, a government contractor founded in 1985 by Bill Kuchera. The company and its employees have donated more than $65,000 dollars to Murtha’s reelection campaign and leadership political action committee, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Thursday’s raid was first reported by the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat.
The newspaper also disclosed that federal agents went to the homes of Bill and Ron Kuchera, the president and CFO, respectively of the companies.
For Full Story