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Florida House Candidate Banned from Twitter over Call to Shoot FBI, IRS, ATF Agents

By Steve Neavling

A Republican Florida state house candidate was banned from Twitter after suggesting he wanted to legalize shooting federal agents. 

“Under my plan, all Floridians will be able to shoot FBI, IRS, ATF, and all other federal troops on sight,” Luis Miguel tweeted. “Let freedom ring.”

Miguel defended his statement, telling Florida Politics that violence is justified because the IRS has been “weaponized by dissident forces.” He didn’t try to justify shooting other federal agents.

Miguel also made the statement on Instagram and Facebook. 

In the Aug. 23 primary election, Miguel will incumbent Rep. Bobby Payne. A predominately GOP district, the winner of the primary is expected to win the general election. 

Threats of violence against the FBI have increased after agents searched the home of former President Trump earlier this month.

Weekend Series on Crime History: FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover and LBJ About the Warren Commission

3 Men Charged in 2018 Prison Killing of Notorious Gangster Whitey Bulger

Whitey Bulger

By Steve Neavling

Three men have been charged in the killing of notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger in a West Virginia prison. 

Bulger, who was 89 and wheelchair bound, was found beaten to death inside his cell on Oct. 30, 2018, just hours after he was transferred to a West Virginia prison nicknamed “Misery Mountain.” The transfer came after the wheelchair-bound ex-mob boss threatened a Florida prison nurse who suggested he see an outside heart doctor.

Fotios Geas, Paul J. DeCologero and Sean McKinnon were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, The New York Times reports.

The men were incarcerated with Bulger in the Hazelton prison in West Virginia. 

Bulger was serving two life sentences for his 2013 conviction of participating in 11 murders. 

To outsiders, Bulger’s murderers had been a mystery for nearly four years. But the three men who were charged had been sent to solitary confinement after the fatal attack. 

It’s not clear why nearly four years has passed until charges were filed. 

Ex-FBI Agent Sentenced to 3 Months in Custody for Using Government Money to Gamble

By Steve Neavling

A former FBI agent who used government money to gamble at a Las Vegas casino following an undercover operation was sentenced Wednesday to three months in custody. 

Scott F. Carpenter, 40, faces jail or home confinement after pleading guilty in February to a count of conversion of government money.

When Carpenter self-surrenders on Nov. 18, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro will decide if the former agent will spend his sentence in jail or home confinement, the Associated Press reports.

According to prosecutors, Carpenter, who worked out of the bureau’s New York Field Office, was in Las Vegas with three other FBI agents to conduct an undercover operation in July 2017. Following the operation, Carpenter used $13,500 in government money to play blackjack in a high-limit room. 

The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General investigated the case. 

A federal prosecutor recommended probation, saying Carpenter self-reported the incident and began paying back the money. 

Navarro rejected the recommendation, saying lawbreaking by federal officers “undermines the community’s trust in law enforcement.”

Stejskal: The Innkeeper Asked Me Are You ‘Good FBI or Bad?’

The writer, an FBI agent for 31 years, retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office in 2006. He has a degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law and is author of a recently released book, “FBI Case Files Michigan: Tales of a G-Man.” 

By Greg Stejskal

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were in northern lower Michigan for a book talk and signing in Suttons Bay. Northern Michigan tends to be more Republican than the southern part of the state – not something I thought much about in the past. But on this trip, before the Michigan primary, I noticed a lot of Trump signs and flags still in yards, two years after his 2020 defeat. 

Greg Stejskal

When we checked into our motel, we had a conversation with the innkeeper. He made some comments that indicated that he wasn’t a fan of President Biden. He also thought Trump had won the 2020 election.

We mentioned that I was there to do a book talk, and that my book was about cases I was involved in during my career in the FBI. The innkeeper then asked if I was “good FBI or bad FBI.” I was a little dumbfounded. I hadn’t heard the FBI characterized as being good or bad before, as though there were factions. It reminded me of the scene in “The Wizard of Oz: when Glenda asks Dorothy: “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”

The clear question, in the context of our conversation, was whether I was part of the “good” FBI that was loyal to Trump or the part that didn’t profess loyalty to Trump. The innkeeper talked about his belief that the FBI instigated the Jan. 6 insurrection. (This theory was echoed by Trump in a recent speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC.)

I asked if he had watched any of the Jan. 6 committee hearings. He said he had watched some, but thought it was all “bullshit.” My wife, sensing the conversation was not going in a good direction, diplomatically ended it.

I continued to think about that conversation. I know conspiracy theories have been propagated by some pundits and in right-wing forums, about the FBI having somehow instigated the Jan. 6 riot. Those have been debunked. Yet they seemed to have coalesced into a perception that there is a good FBI and a bad FBI.

It became more troubling on Aug. 8, when the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s winter home. The FBI made an extraordinary effort to keep the search unintrusive. There was no public announcement and it was conducted on a Monday, when the club adjoining Trump’s private residence was closed. Trump wasn’t even in town.

Agents didn’t even wear their blue FBI jackets. It wasn’t until Trump posted on his Truth Social site that his “beautiful home” was “currently under siege, raided and occupied by a large group of FBI agents” that it became public.

I have been involved in numerous searches. There is a distinction between a “raid” and a search. 

A raid generally connotes a search where there is some potential for resistance, such a raid on drug dealer. In such a raid, a SWAT team might be used to secure the location prior to the search being conducted. No such action was taken in the Mar-a-Lago search. There were no battering rams, only Secret Service agents present, who were given notice of the search.

Lacking Factual Basis

The Trump post was followed by a chorus of his supporters voicing attacks on the FBI, obviously lacking any factual basis as none was yet available. Florida Sen. Rick Scott called the search a “Gestapo raid.” Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene posted “Defund the FBI.” (She may have been hesitant to post anything using “Gestapo,” as she had previously described the former German secret police as “gazpacho.”) Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar said it was time to “destroy the FBI.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Adding to the cacophony were Trump followers, emboldened by the statements of Republican office holders, disparaging the FBI and making threats. On Tuesday following the search, someone using the account of Ricky Shiffer on Truth Social posted messages that included: “Be ready to open fire tomorrow. Take your weapon to work, have it in the trunk. Kill the FBI on sight.”

On Thursday, Shiffer went to the FBI field office in Cincinnati armed with an AR-15 and a nail gun. He was unable to breach the bulletproof glass between the reception area and the inner office. Agents responded to the alarm and Shiffer fled. Later Shiffer was shot to death in an exchange of gunfire with local and Ohio state police.

When the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, they did so pursuant to a search warrant authorized by a U.S. Magistrate Judge as prescribed by the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. The warrant must be based on “probable cause supported by Oath or affirmation.” (The probable cause is contained in the affidavit, which remains sealed.)  This warrant, because of its extraordinary nature, the first warrant authorizing the search of a former president’s home, was closely reviewed at the highest level of the Department of Justice, including Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has said he personally authorized it.

Trump and others have said if the FBI can search my home, think what they can do to you. It would be more accurate to say that in the eyes of the law, Trump is not special. The law should apply the same to everyone whether of high station or low. No person is above the law.

Attacking DOJ

Predictably Trump and some Republican senators and congressmen have attacked the DOJ for having been “politically weaponized” by Biden’s administration. To the contrary, Garland has been scrupulous in keeping the DOJ detached from politics. He only publicly confirmed the search of Mar-a-Lago after the integrity of the FBI and DOJ was attacked by Trump and others. Garland also said that the search was done only after the former president failed to voluntarily turn over the documents sought, and failed to fully comply with a subpoena requesting the documents. (Reportedly, one of Trump’s attorneys signed a letter in June affirming that all the classified documents that had been in Trump’s possession had been returned.)

President Trump

It is not clear why Trump took the documents, nor why he wanted to keep them. His claim that he had summarily declassified them while he was president seems spurious. But even if he did, the documents were of such a sensitive nature that their contents could pose a grave threat to our national security. Not something that should be kept in a resort storage area with patio furniture and tiki torches.

Trump is now testing an alternative defense, that the documents were “planted by the FBI.” It should be noted that there was at least one of Trump’s attorneys present during the search, who signed the return on the search warrant. A copy of the warrant and the return, inventory of items taken was left with the attorney and presumably shared with Trump. 

When FBI agents are sworn in, they take a sacred oath to “support and defend the Constitution.” We do not profess loyalty to anyone, only the rule of law. Agents are trained when investigating crimes to follow the facts and the law. Agents are not political eunuchs. They have political opinions and beliefs, but in my experience those opinions and beliefs do not interfere with the search for truth. I am confident the agents and DOJ attorneys will follow the facts, and if prosecution is merited, it will be pursued. No threats will dissuade them, only strengthen their resolve.

Pence Calls on Republicans to Stop Attacks on FBI

Former Vice President Mike Pence

By Steve Neavling

Former Vice President Mike Pence chastised Republicans for attacking the FBI after agents searched former President Trump’s home. 

Republican lawmakers have also lashed out at the FBI, and some even called for the bureau to be disbanded.

At a political event in New Hampshire, Pence said Republicans Republicans “can hold the attorney general accountable for the decision that he made without attacking the rank-and-file law enforcement personnel at the FBI.”

“Our party stands with the men and women who stand on the thin blue line at the federal and state and local level, and these attacks on the F.B.I. must stop,” Mr. Pence said. “Calls to defund the F.B.I. are just as wrong as calls to defund the police.”

The remarks from Pence, who appears to be preparing to run for president, come as the FBI has become the target of attacks. 

Last week, the FBI and Homeland Security warned of an “an increase in threats and acts of violence” directed at bureau employees. 

A man wearing body armor tried to attack the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Office last week. He was eventually killed in an hours-long standoff.

A Pennsylvania man was charged Monday with posting multiple violent threats against the FBI online after the bureau searched former President Trump’s house in Florida. 

President of Local TSA Union Sentenced to Probation, Home Confinement for Stealing Union Funds

By Steve Neavling

The president of a local TSA union dodged prison time for defrauding his unionized coworkers. 

Marie LeClair, 59, of Lynn, Mass., was sentenced to three years of probation and six months of home confinement, the Justice Department announced Tuesday. He also was ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture of $29,050.

LeClair was the president of the Boston-based American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2617, when he “engaged in a scheme to defraud the union by misappropriating funds belonging to the union for personal use,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. 

LeClair transferred the union funds to a travel debit card and used the money for personal expenses. 

The theft began around March 2015. 

Drug Trafficker Who Paid Bribes to DEA Agent Sentenced to More Than 11 Years in Prison

By Steve Neavling

A convicted California drug trafficker was sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison for paying bribes to a corrupt DEA agent, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Francisco Gonzalez Benitez, 37, pleaded guilty in April 2021 to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances, distribution of methamphetamine, and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. 

Between 2016 and 2019, Benitez operated multi-state conspiracies to distribute large quantities of cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine from California to Florida and Arkansas and launder the proceeds. 

Benitez also worked as an informant for DEA Agent Nathan Koen and paid him thousand of dollars in bribes to provide protection for his drug operation. 

In May, Koen was sentenced to 135 months in prison. He provided sensitive law enforcement information that helped Benitez run his drug operation and avoid detection by authorities. 

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the IRS, FBI and DEA. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Coolican prosecuted the case.