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Blackwater Guards Plan To Surrender in Utah To Get Favorable Venue

Sometimes the pre-trial legal battles can be intense. In this case, the pre-indictment battles are becoming intense. This one is shaping up as a battle of battles.

By Salt Lake Tribune Staff And Wire Services
Washington— Five Blackwater Worldwide security guards indicted in Washington, D.C., for the shooting of Iraqi civilians plan to surrender to the FBI on Monday in Salt Lake City, in hopes of a favorable trial venue, a person close to the case said.
The case already is shaping up to be a series of legal battles before the guards can even go to trial. With a surrendering in Utah, the home state of one of the guards, Donald Ball, of West Valley City, lawyers could argue in a far more conservative, pro-gun venue than Washington.
The person described the decision to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the indictment against the men remains sealed.
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OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Commentary: The Love and Loyalty for Troubled New Orleans Congressman Jefferson Has Faded

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – I always marveled at the voter loyalty Rep. William J. Jefferson generated.  Long after the FBI found $90,000 in marked FBI bills in his freezer in August 2005, many many people in the “Big Easy” still loved him.
Apparently, Saturday there wasn’t enough of that kind of special love to go around. He lost his bid for a 10th term in the general election.
Two years ago, when I was reporter at the Washington Post, I went down to New Orleans to follow Jefferson around on the campaign trail. He seemed like an affable man, humbled by all that he had gone through with the FBI. His homes had been raided. His office had been raided, but he had yet to be indicted.
In the French Quarters, at some of the watering holes, it was easy to find folks who were fed up with Jefferson. But others. Well, they still believed in him. They said they were giving him the benefit of the doubt. One loyalist at a 55-plus apartment building in the Third Ward who had come downstairs to the activity room to hear the Congressman speak, told me:
“All of them are stealing. He just got caught. Since he’s been in office, he’s one of the few black officials who has been able to get in office and do something for the people.”
That opinion seemed to resonate. A few weeks later, Jefferson won his ninth term.
Well, apparently this time, the loyalty had worn thin. Even though demographics had shifted since Katrina, a ham sandwich could have still beaten a Republican in that Congressional district, particularly in this political climate. Instead, it was a Republican who unseated Jefferson. I think in this case, the cry for “change” trumped any anger toward President Bush or the Republican party.
Jefferson now has to keep dealing with his public corruption trial, which should take place some time next year in an Alexandria, Va. courtroom before a no-nonsense federal judge T.S. Ellis III. The case has dragged on, with Jefferson challenging the government in pre-trial motions every step of the way.
Meanwhile, he’s got some company when it comes to legal problems. His sister Betty Jefferson, his brother Mose Jefferson and his niece Angela Coleman were indicted in July on charges of skimming hundreds of thousands of dollars from a non-profit group they controlled. Yes, the Jeffersons are keeping some in the legal community employed.
Sadly, whatever happens to Jefferson, few outside of New Orleans or Capitol Hill will remember him for anything but a little footnote in his life: The guy who hid $90,000 in his freezer.

A Man Once Framed by FBI For Murder is Charged With Illegal Gambling

A man who served more than 30 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit now faces illegal gambling charges. Any way you put it, here’s a man with an unlucky hand.

By DENISE LAVOIE
Associated Press Writer
WOBURN, Mass.— A man once framed by the FBI for murder pleaded not guilty Friday to new charges that he ran an organized crime ring that took in hundreds of thousands of dollars from illegal gambling.
Peter Limone, 74, of Medford, was charged with 12 counts of attempted extortion, loan-sharking and illegal gaming. He’s accused of running a ring of bookmakers who took bets on sporting events and charging other bookmakers to work on his turf in the Boston area and Middlesex County.
Limone spent more than three decades in prison for a 1965 gangland murder that he didn’t commit. He won part of a $101.7 million civil judgment last year after a federal judge found that Boston FBI agents withheld evidence they knew could prove that he and three other men weren’t involved in the killing.
Attorney Juliane Balliro argued Limone should be released on bail, citing his wrongful conviction and decades behind bars.
“No defendant in the Commonwealth is as deserving of the presumption of innocence as Mr. Limone,” Balliro said.
For Full Story

Feds Correct Errors and Indict Barry Bonds for Third Time

In this case, the feds have decided, if you can’t get it right the first or second time, try try again.

By Lance Williams
San Francisco Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO (Dec. 4)– Federal prosecutors in San Francisco indicted Barry Bonds for a third time today, once again rewriting the charges facing the former Giants star to correct technical errors.
Under the new indictment, Bonds is charged with 10 counts of lying under oath and one count of obstruction of justice, all in connection with his testimony in 2003 before the grand jury that investigated the BALCO steroids scandal.
The government contends that Bonds, 44, lied when he said he had never knowingly used banned drugs obtained from the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative in Burlingame or from his trainer, Greg Anderson.
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OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Convicted Ex-FBI Agent John Connolly Breaks Silence: Denies Role in Mob Murder

His sentence was delayed until January. But during a hearing Thursday in Miami, ex-Boston FBI agent John Connolly accused the prosecutor of hiding evidence and denied having any role in a mob murder.

By Rich Phillips
CNN Senior Producer
MIAMI, Fla. — Former FBI agent John Connolly, whose fall from celebrated mob-buster to paid gangland flunky captivated a South Florida courtroom for weeks, broke his long silence Thursday at his sentencing hearing.
Connolly, 68, denied having any role in a 1982 mob hit, telling the family of slain businessman John Callahan: “It’s heart breaking to hear what happened to your father, and to your husband … My heart is broken when I hear what you say.”
Later, under a spirited cross-examination, Connolly explained that rubbing elbows with killers and gangsters and winning their confidence was part of the job. His attorney argued, “He did what the FBI wanted him to do and now all of a sudden, he’s responsible for all these heinous acts.”
For Full Story
Connolly Says Mobster Whitey Bulger Called Him To Talk About Surrendering (Boston Globe)

Ex-FBI Agent Convicted in Mob Murder Tells Boston Globe He Was on The Up and Up

Two Texas Border Patrol Agents Charged With Drug Trafficking

The temptation to make money beyond the government paycheck may have been too much for two Border Patrol agents down in Texas.

By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN
Associated Press Writer
McALLEN, Texas – Two South Texas Border Patrol agents appeared in federal court Thursday on charges alleging they helped drug traffickers move their product across the U.S.-Mexico border.
A grand jury in Houston returned sealed indictments Dec. 1 against Leonel Morales, 30, of the Border Patrol’s Laredo sector and Salomon Ruiz, 34, of the Rio Grande Valley sector.
Both men made their initial appearances in federal courthouses in McAllen and Laredo on Thursday after the FBI arrested them Wednesday. They will remain in custody until their respective detention hearings next week, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
For Full Story

Federal Law Enforcement’s Goodwill Ambassadors

Arguably, the most important product America has to give to the third world nations and emerging democracies in a dangerous and volatile world is not foreign aid or preventive military action but support for the rule of law. Several hundred federal law enforcement officers and attorneys sacrifice personal security and the comforts of hearth and home to promote this objective.

The Lemisch family from the Detroit area was excited about their one-year adventure to Belgrade, Serbia where Dan would assume the duties of a Resident Legal Advisor attached to the U.S. embassy. Dan, an assistant U.S. Attorney, had previously served short term training assignments in Moscow, Siberia, Indonesia and Nigeria, and enjoyed the experience. But each member of the family made sacrifices for the move. Carol put her own legal career on hold and temporarily abandoned the comfortable suburban home she had decorated. The children, Ben and Sophie, left their friends and activities during important high school and middle school years. Dan not only gave up the possibility of promotion in the Detroit U. S. Attorney’s Office, but also handed off drug and money laundering cases he had worked for several years to prepare.

Still, all four arrived in Belgrade last January enthused about the experience to come. Their arrival occurred at a colossally inopportune time in U. S.-Serbian relations. One month after settling in, Serbian resentment over the U. S.-led recognition of the secessionist state of Kosovo, the ancestral heartland of Serbian Orthodoxy, boiled over as tens of thousands of outraged Serbs demonstrated outside the U. S. Embassy. Some of them stoned the building, broke in and set it afire, as Serbian authorities watched. No Americans were hurt, but families and non-essential Embassy personnel were evacuated from the country. Dan’s family was ordered to return to Michigan while he remained in Belgrade to begin his duties under inauspicious circumstances.

Surprisingly, however, Dan found the Serb judges, prosecutors and police officers both friendly and receptive to his efforts. Most of his time has been spent as an instructor for various groups who are in the process of reforming the Serbian justice system. Their efforts are key to the eight-year struggle in Serbia between the forces of virulent, pro-Russian nationalism and the country’s democratic transformation, which could lead to membership in the European Union and ties to the West. Fortunately, the latter seem to be winning.

Dan copes with the separation from his family by keeping a busy  schedule. He helped a working group of police and attorneys draft Serbia’s first asset forfeiture law, which passed the Parliament in late October. His unique contribution was a provision for administrative forfeiture, a method of avoiding court hearings on non-contested assets. This addition to the law should save hundreds of hours of already scarce court time. His office also helped create a regional witness protection program for Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Bulgaria where each country has the ability to hide its protected witnesses in the others. Dan recently traveled to Albania to assist the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutors Office, which is investigating the 1999 kidnapping of 300 Kosovar Serbs who were imprisoned, tortured and whose organs were allegedly harvested and sold in Western Europe. Despite the political sensitivity of this case to Albania, he and the Tirana RLA were able to broker a productive meeting between Serbian prosecutors and the Albanian Ministry of Justice to facilitate the investigation.

American concepts of justice are often foreign in Serbia, as in many “civil law” countries. For example, their criminal law recognizes no burden of proof. Nor do the prosecutor and case agent have the opportunity to organize its evidence and present a case. These tasks at the heart of American jurisprudence are, instead, the province of the court itself.

Much has been accomplished this past year by Dan and the other members of the RLA staff in Belgrade. Perhaps the most important of these has been the good will which has developed with the attorneys and police of both nations. In a time when American popularity abroad is said to be at an all time low, these rank and file professionals are forging relationships which are helping to reverse this trend.

Dan isn’t the only one helping from the Detroit area. In fact, at a time when the world questions its ability to provide cars, Detroit continues its longtime tradition in supplying international law enforcement trainers. Former U. S. Attorney Steve Markman made repeated trips to the Ukraine Republic to help its founding fathers draft a new constitution. DEA Country Attaché George Papadopoulos, using Athens as a base, travels throughout the Balkans with not only enforcement support for those countries but also training sessions on undercover work, financial investigation, intelligence gathering, and other tools of American federal agencies. AUSA and Drug Unit Chief Kathy McCarthy just returned from a trip to Belgrade where she participated in a seminar on the ins and outs of money laundering prosecutions. DEA agent Ed Donovan went to the same site with a team of lawyers and agents to present a program on cooperating witnesses. These missions sometimes provide cultural experiences out of the Americans’ comfort zones.

Former Detroit DEA agent John Graetz spent four years supporting Brazil’s law enforcement and two more as an international training supervisor. In a trip to Kazakhstan where he and other agents presented a drug enforcement school, the regional Kazakh leader planned an all-day wild mountain goat hunt to celebrate the occasion. After much traipsing in the cold mountain air, a magnificent goat was killed and grilled at an outdoor feast held in the Americans’ honor. Following many vodka toasts and declarations of good will, the Kazakh leader presented John with a bowl containing the delicacy of the roasted animal. With everyone watching, John looked into the bowl to find two reproachful goat eyes staring up at him.  Not wishing to offend, he swallowed one eyeball whole, palmed the other one and much celebratory gunfire ensued.

Like Detroit, many other American cities and agencies contribute international trainers to help build law enforcement capabilities. The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center sponsors training sessions in Glynco, Georgia as well as overseas for foreign law enforcement officers. The International Law Enforcement Academy, formed in 1994 under the leadership of the FBI, now has centers in Bangkok, Budapest, Gabarone, and San Salvador. These centers provide up to 5 eight-week sessions a year for thousands of international police in such subjects as financial management, human rights, ethics, and rule of law. Instructors from FBI, DEA, Secret Service, ATF, IRS, the State Department, Department of Energy, and Homeland Security, as well as other countries, lead sessions on their areas of expertise.

A third U. S. program is the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program. Created in 1986, this DOJ-State Department program is located in 17 field offices and serves 45 countries. The 168 trainers in the field, as well as several hundred contract law enforcement personnel, organized 1117 training events involving 82,911 foreign participants this year. ICITAP provides a comprehensive program of public safety training and assistance for foreign law enforcement officers. Perhaps the most dangerous and important of these projects involve the deployment of attorneys and agents to Afghanistan and Iraq. About 300 federal employees spend up to one year in the danger zones serving as mentors and trainers forthe new generation of law enforcement in those countries who are building a criminal justice system from the ground up.

Before peace and freedom comes security. These American ambassadors sacrifice attending their children’s soccer games and the comforts of home to provide, inch by inch, progress on the rule of law to developing nations, something it has taken ten centuries of Anglo-American tradition to achieve.