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FBI

Did Chicago Tribune End Up Blowing Part of the Fed’s Case Against Gov. Blagojevich?

The Chicago Tribune’s decision to go to print may have cost prosecutors some other big fish in the scandal.

By Cam Simpson
Wall Street Journal
CHICAGO — Conventional wisdom holds that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald ordered the FBI to arrest Rod Blagojevich before sunrise Tuesday in order to stop a crime from being committed. That would have been the sale of the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
But the opposite is true: Members of Fitzgerald’s team are livid the scheme didn’t advance, at least for a little longer, according to some people close to Fitzgerald’s office. Why? Because had the plot unfolded, they might have had an opportunity most feds can only dream of: A chance to catch the sale of a Senate seat on tape, including the sellers and the buyers.
The precise timing of Tuesday’s dramatic, pre-dawn arrest was not dictated by Fitzgerald, nor was it dictated by the pace of Blagojevich’s alleged “crime spree.” It was dictated by the Chicago Tribune, according to people close to the investigation and a careful reading of the FBI’s affidavit in the case.
At Fitzgerald’s request, the paper had been holding back a story since October detailing how a confidante of Blagojevich was cooperating with his office.
Gerould Kern, the Tribune’s editor, said in a statement last week that these requests are granted in what he called isolated instances. “In each case, we strive to make the right decision as reporters and as citizens,” he said.
But editors decided to publish the story on Friday, Dec. 5, ending the Tribune’s own cooperation deal with the prosecutor.
For Full Story

Fed Leaked Info to the Press About the NSA Eavesdropping On Private U.S. Citizens

Depending on  your perspective, Thomas M. Tamm is a hero who exposed some wrongdoing at the highest levels of government. Or he’s a traitor who tried to undermine the war on terrorism. Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff presents a fascinating tale.

By Michael Isikoff
Newsweek
WASHINGTON — Thomas M. Tamm was entrusted with some of the government’s most important secrets. He had a Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance, a level above Top Secret. Government agents had probed Tamm’s background, his friends and associates, and determined him trustworthy.
It’s easy to see why: he comes from a family of high-ranking FBI officials. During his childhood, he played under the desk of J. Edgar Hoover, and as an adult, he enjoyed a long and successful career as a prosecutor. Now gray-haired, 56 and fighting a paunch, Tamm prides himself on his personal rectitude. He has what his 23-year-old son, Terry, calls a “passion for justice.” For that reason, there was one secret he says he felt duty-bound to reveal.
In the spring of 2004, Tamm had just finished a yearlong stint at a Justice Department unit handling wiretaps of suspected terrorists and spies-a unit so sensitive that employees are required to put their hands through a biometric scanner to check their fingerprints upon entering. While there, Tamm stumbled upon the existence of a highly classified National Security Agency program that seemed to be eavesdropping on U.S. citizens.
For Full Story

Hundreds of Law Enforcement Officers Gather For Memorial Service For Slain Pitts. FBI Agent Sam Hicks

Unfortunately, it was only after he was killed that the public got to know what kind of FBI agent Sam Hicks was. Hundreds gathered Friday to pay respect.

FBI Agent Sam Hicks/fbi photo

FBI Agent Sam Hicks/fbi photo

By Dan Majors
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
OAKLAND, Pa. –Many of the hundreds of law enforcement officers attending yesterday’s memorial service for FBI Special Agent Samuel S. Hicks did not know him. But the personal anecdotes that his friends shared from the pulpit of St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland confirmed what they did know.
He was one of them.
More than 750 friends, family and law enforcement representatives from throughout southwestern Pennsylvania gathered to honor and remember Agent Hicks, who was slain in the line of duty last month.
“It’s a testament to Sam Hicks that he got the deserved recognition in death that he never sought in life,” said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, who addressed the congregation. “Sam believed that the best was expected of the FBI, and that is what he gave every moment of every day.”
Agent Hicks, 33, a native of Alverton, Westmoreland County, who had been living in Richland, was fatally shot Nov. 18 in an Indiana Township home while serving an arrest warrant for drug charges.
For Full Story

Feds Nab Big Fish in Violent Colombian Cartel

Authorities nabbed a major fish in the drug war. The question is: Will it have any impact on cocaine traffic in the U.S.?

By CURT ANDERSON
AP Legal Affairs Writer
MIAMI — The reputed kingpin of a violent Colombian cartel blamed for smuggling cocaine worth $10 billion to the U.S. was flown aboard an FBI plane to Miami on Friday to face a 12-count federal indictment.
Diego “Don Diego” Montoya, described as the notorious head of the North Valley Cartel, could spend at least 20 years in prison if convicted on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering, obstruction of justice and witness retaliation by murder.
Montoya, who did not yet have a U.S. lawyer following his extradition, was being held without bail awaiting an initial court appearance Monday.
Under Montoya’s leadership, the North Valley Cartel in the mid-1990s become Colombia’s dominant cocaine smuggling organization, taking over from the Cali cartel whose leaders also were prosecuted in Miami. At its height, North Valley controlled about 60 percent of Colombia’s cocaine trade, authorities said.
For Full Story

Other Stories of Interest

Like Dad, Mobster John Gotti Jr. May Have His Own “Sammy the Bull” Snitch to Deal With

John Gotti Jr./youtube photo

John Gotti Jr./youtube photo

His father had “Sammy the Bull” as the snitch who put him away. John Gotti Jr. may have his own snitch that could sink him.

By Kevin Graham
St. Petersburg Times
TAMPA – Sixteen years ago, “Sammy the Bull” Gravano sent shock waves through a New York courtroom when he testified against his mob boss, John Gotti Sr.
Now another mob insider may prove key to convicting Gotti’s son on federal racketeering and murder charges that grew from a Clearwater FBI investigation.
When John E. Alite’s confession in a racketeering conspiracy charge became public this week, it confirmed what some attorneys already suspected – that Alite had flipped and is likely helping the government build its case against John Gotti Jr.
Prosecutors won’t reveal their witnesses, but three New York-area murders remain the common denominator between Alite, 46, and Gotti, 44.

For Full Story

See Video After His Arrest Earlier This Year

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYVPoiljgVg

Polygraph Isn’t Admissable For Federal Judge on Trial For Fondling Court Case Manager

Too often there’s reasons not to allow a polygraph as evidence in trial. In this case, a federal judge says he’d allow it into evidence, but it wasn’t done right when the federal judge on trial took it.  Guess these guys won’t be playing golf together.

By JUAN A. LOZANO
Associated Press
Judge Samuel Kent

Judge Samuel Kent

HOUSTON – Lie detector test results won’t be allowed as evidence in the trial of a federal judge indicted on charges alleging he fondled a former court case manager, according to a ruling Thursday.
The judge presiding over the case of U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent denied a motion to have the two tests considered as evidence. Kent’s attorneys said he passed the exams, showing he is innocent of the charges.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, a Florida jurist appointed to the case, said while he believes polygraph exams can be admitted at trial, he felt the ones performed on Kent in August and September were done incorrectly and contained deficiencies.
“There is no doubt in my mind, given a proper examination, polygraph evidence should be and ought to be admitted,” Vinson said. “In this case, deficiencies arise from the processes of the (polygraph examiner).”
For Full Story
Motion To Allow Polygraph
OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Illegal Immigrants Clean Homeland Security Sec. Chertoff’s Home

Under the category of “You’ve Got To Be Kidding” comes the latest: Illegal immigrants cleaned Homeland Sec. Michael Chertoff’s home.

Sec. Michael Chertoff/dhs photo

Sec. Michael Chertoff/dhs photo

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Every few weeks for nearly four years, the Secret Service screened the IDs of employees for a Maryland cleaning company before they entered the house of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the nation’s top immigration official.
The company’s owner says the workers sailed through the checks — although some of them turned out to be illegal immigrants.
Now, owner James D. Reid finds himself in a predicament that he considers especially confounding. In October, he was fined $22,880 after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators said he failed to check identification and work documents and fill out required I-9 verification forms for employees, five of whom he said were part of crews sent to Chertoff’s home and whom ICE told him to fire because they were undocumented.
“Our people need to know,” said the Montgomery County businessman. “Our Homeland Security can’t police their own home. How can they police our borders?”

For Full Story

Other Stories of Interest

Gov Lawyer Tells Supreme Court That Mueller and Ashcroft Shouldn’t be Part of Arab Muslim Suit (Washington Post)

FBI Says Company Fraud Caused Consumers to Pay More For Tomato-based Products Like Sauces (San Francisco Chronicle)

Three Men Convicted in N.J. Bank Heist That Ended With an FBI Agent Fatally Shooting Another Agent

Another senseless tragedy for the FBI. The only upside for the bureau: the men in the robbery were convicted Wednesday.

By Matthew Reilly
The Newark Star-Ledger
TRENTON, N.J. — Three young New Brunswick men, whose bank robbery spree ended in an incident in which FBI agent Barry Lee Bush was shot and killed by another agent, were convicted today of conspiracy and various bank robbery and weapons charges in U.S. District Court in Trenton.
Wilfredo Berrios, Efrain Lynn and Francisco Herrera-Genao, all in their 20s and from New Brunswick, were not charged in connection with Bush’s death outside a PNC Bank in the Whitehouse section of Readington Township on April 5, 2007, but all three were found guilty guilty on charges that will put them behind bars for decades.
“This is a tragic story in a number of respects,” said Jacob Elberg, who helped prosecute the case. “The good thing today is we finally reached a conclusion. Much of what happened here today reflects the impressive work the FBI did in tracking this group down and catching them in the act before they could do what they had done four times before.”
Berrios, Lynn and Herrara-Genao were charged with robbing banks in Piscataway, East Brunswick, Ocean Township and South Brunswick before they were arrested.
For Full Story