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News Story

FBI Tracks down a 19th Century Painting Stolen by the Nazis During WWII

“Secret Departure of Ivan the Terrible Before the Oprichina,” via U.S. Attorney’s Office.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI tracked down an Ivan the Terrible painting that was stolen by the Nazis during World War II and returned the massive artwork to the Embassy of Ukraine.

The 19th century oil painting, titled “Secret Departure of Ivan the Terrible Before the Oprichina,” was looted from the Dnepropetrovsk Art Museum in Nazi-occupied Ukraine in 1941. More than 75 years later, the FBI’s Art Crime Team was tipped off that the Mikhail N. Panin painting was being prepared for auction.

The 64-square-foot painting was preserved and “admired” for decades in the Connecticut home of Gabby and David Tracy, who had no idea the artwork had been stolen, according to the FBI. In 1987, the couple came into possession of the painting when they bought the home in which artwork had been hung.

“The FBI is proud to work with our partners to mark this important art repatriation and return the painting to the Ukrainian Embassy. The FBI works to return stolen art and other property to preserve the history and culture of countries around the world,” Timothy M. Dunham, special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division, said in a news release. “Returning art to the proper owners is important and meaningful work made possible by our talented special agents and analysts.”

Prosecutors Clear Border Patrol Agents, Officers in Deadly Shooting in Las Cruces

Dashcam image via Las Cruces Police Department.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol agents, deputies and police officers will not be charged in connection with the shooting death of a suspect in the parking lot of a Las Cruces Home Depot, prosecutors told KRQE.

Investigators said the suspect, Francisco “Paco” Tarin, opened fire at a Las Cruces police officer who had responded to a June 17 call about a suspicious man threatening employees at a nearby Jack in the Box. While the officer drove himself to a hospital, a group of officers, deputies and border agents responded and found the suspect in the Home Deport parking lot.

After Tarin refused to surrender, he was shot with a non-lethe bean bag round. Tarin responded by shooting at the group of officers and agents, prompting them to return fire, killing the suspect.

The Officer-Involved Incident Task Force investigated the shooting and sent its findings to the district attorney’s office for review.

Doña Ana County District Attorney Mark D’Antonio cleared the law enforcement officers of wrongdoing.

FBI, ATF Conduct Raids as Part of Probe into Deadly California Boat Fire

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI, ATF and U.S. Coast Guard on Sunday raided the Santa Barbara offices of a diving company that owns the boat that caught fire off the California coast and killed 34 people on Labor Day.

Federal agents also served warrants to search two boats owned by the company, Truth Aquatics, the Los Angeles Times first reported.

Authorities have been trying to determine the cause of the fire and why no one below the deck was able to escape. The only survivors were a captain and four crew members, who were on deck when the fire broke out shortly after 3 a.m.

No one was arrested during the raids as investigators snapped photos and seized boxes.

“You can only do so much with your basic investigative efforts, and at some point you have to use a search warrant as the means to collect information,” Lt. Eric Raney of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office told the Times.

Weekend Series on Crime History: Nixon and LBJ Talk About J. Edgar Hoover’s Death

Judge: FBI Terror Watch List Violates Constitutional Rights of U.S. Citizens

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

An FBI watch list of more than one million people identified as “known or suspected terrorists” infringes on the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens in the database, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga said the Terrorist Screening Database violates Americans’ constitutional right to due process, NBC News reports.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed by 23 Muslim Americans, who argued they were wrongly included in the database, which they say is overly broad and inaccurate.

The plaintiffs said they were subjected to abuse and harassment while traveling.

“The general right of free movement is a long-recognized, fundamental liberty,” he wrote. “Inclusion in the TSDB accordingly imposes a substantial burden on Plaintiff’s exercise of their rights to international travel and domestic air travel” which he adds is a “deprivation of liberty interests.”

The FBI has not responded to media requests for comment.

FBI Names New Special Agents in Charge of Omaha, Knoxville Field Offices

Joseph E. Carrico and Kristi Koons Johnson.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI field offices in Omaha and Knoxville have new leaders.

Kristi Koons Johnson has been named the special agent in charge of the Omaha Field Office, which covers Nebraska and Iowa.

At the Knoxville Field Office in Tennessee, the new special agent in charge is Joseph E. Carrico.

Johnson had been serving as a section chief in the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. She joined the FBI as a special agent in 1999, serving in the Chicago Field Office, where she investigated public corruption and organized crime for a decade.

Johnson is no newcomer to the Omaha office. In 2010, she served as the chief division counsel for the field office, providing legal advice about investigations and FBI policy. After a stint as unit chief in the FBI’s Internal Policy Office at headquarters, Johnson returned to Omaha in 2016 as assistant special agent in charge of national security, cyber, and intelligence issues for the field office.

Johnson left the Omaha office in 2018 to serve as chief of the Transnational Organized Crime Section of the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters.

Before Carrico took over the Knoxville Field Office, he had served as a deputy assistant director in the Operational Technology Division at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C.

Carrico began working as a special agent with the FBI in 1999 with an assignment to the Dallas Field Office, where he investigated securities and bank fraud and was a member of the Evidence Response Team. In 2005, Johnson was promoted to supervisory special agent and moved to the Human Resources Division at FBI headquarters.

In 2007, Carrico became an assistant inspector in the Inspection Division before returning to the Human Resources Division as chief of the Special Agent Recruitment and Selection Unit in 2008.

A year later, Carrico served as the supervisory senior resident agent in charge of the Covington Resident Agency in Kentucky, which is part of the Louisville Field Office. In 2011, he again returned to the Inspection Division as a special assistant to the assistant director.

In 2013, Carrico began serving as the assistant special agent in charge of the Administrative Branch of the Chicago Field Office before being promoted to chief of the Digital Forensics and Analysis Section of the Operational Technology Division three years later.

In 2018, Carrico became deputy assistant director in the division, leading digital and forensic analysis, computer network exploitation, and lawful electronic surveillance.

DOJ Decides Not to Charge FBI Agent Who Shot Kidnapping Victim in Houston

The suspects in the kidnapping.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has decided not to charge the FBI agent who fatally shot a kidnapping victim in a botched rescue attempt at a Houston home.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas “declined to proceed with federal criminal charges against FBI personnel,” a spokesman for the agency wrote in an email to the Houston Chronicle.

The decision was made in May but not publicly disclosed “after a careful and thorough review of all of the available evidence in the matter involving the shooting,” DOJ spokesman Daryl Fields wrote.

“We conducted an approximate 11-month-long, detailed and careful investigation.”

But the unnamed agent isn’t out of hot water yet. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said a local grand jury will be convened to determine if charges should be filed against the agent.

The agent shot Ulises Valladare last year, a day after kidnappers abducted him and his 12-year-old son, both of whom were bound. The kidnappers demanded ransom from Valladare’s brother, falsely claiming they were connected to a Mexican drug cartel.

The next morning, FBI agents swarmed the home. The unnamed agent used an M-4 machine gun to break a window in the rear of the home when Valladares grabbed the gun. The agent fire two shots at Valladares, mistaking him for a kidnapper.

It still isn’t clear whether the FBI took internal action against the agent.

Rare Prosecution of Border Patrol Agent Leads to Resignation for Punching Migrant

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A 49-year-old Border Patrol agent who assaulted a migrant in U.S. custody has resigned in exchange for pleading guilty to a charge filed by the Justice Department.

Jason Andrew McGilvray was working at the Calexico Border Patrol Station in California in February 2019 when he spotted an undocumented migrant jump the international border fence. McGilvray apprehend the man and struck him “in the face with the intent to deprive [him] of his constitutional right against unreasonable force during search and seizure,” prosecutors said.

According to Quartz, which first reported on the arrest, it’s extremely rare for Border Patrol agents to be held charged for on-duty wrong-doing. Since 2016, only two Border Patrol agents have been arrested for “mission-related misconduct.”

By contrast, Border Patrol agents are five times more likely to be arrested for off-duty conduct than other federal agents.

Under McGilvray’s plea agreement, he dodged jail time and was sentenced to a year of probation.

McGilvray joined Border Patrol in 2006.