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Sen. Kohl Asks FBI Director Mueller Not to Close Wisc. Offices

Sen. Herb Kohl/gov photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Senator Herb Kohl warned FBI Director Robert Mueller on Wednesday morning about the danger of the FBI’s plan to close three FBI offices in the senator’s home state of Wisconsin, reports WXOW.

Kohl opposed the closures of offices in La Crosse, Kenosha and Wausau, Wisc., telling Mueller that if the closures go through “the Western District of Wisconsin will be especially hard hit, and will lose half of its FBI offices,” according to WXOW. “I have strong objections to these closures,” he said.

Mueller said that the FBI, looking at the Western part of Wisconsin, hopes the coverage will remain the same, with just as many agents overall, despite the office closures. He told Kohl there remained an open “crack” as to the final decision.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

FBI Dir. Mueller Has Concerns Over Detainee Provision

Robert Mueller/file fbi photo

By EVAN PEREZ
The Wall Street Journal
WASHINGTON—FBI Director Robert Mueller on Wednesday said a Pentagon-funding bill that increases military authority over terrorism detainees injects new uncertainty into sensitive national-security investigations.

Mr. Mueller’s comments are the first indicating that the joint House-Senate conference bill failed to resolve concerns that had prompted the Obama administration to threaten to veto the legislation.

The legislation requires military custody of terrorism suspects who are members of al Qaeda and affiliated groups. In response to White House concerns, lawmakers included a provision to give the president broad discretion over whether the military or the civilian justice system takes the lead in terrorism investigations.

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Five Arrested in Foreclosure Bidding Conspiracy

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Creativity is one thing that never seems to be lacking when it comes to housing fraud, a pervasive problem.

The latest: Five men have been charged in an FBI probe into bid rigging on foreclosed homes at public auction in northern California, a local ABC affiliate reported on Tuesday.

A federal grand jury returned indictments on the men with charges including bid rigging and conspiracy to commit mail fraud on December 7th.

The indictment alleges that between September 2008 and October 2009 the men “entered into and engaged in a combination and conspiracy to suppress and restrain competition by rigging bids to obtain selected properties offered at public auctions in San Joaquin County,” according to the report.

More specifically, the station reported that the “men agreed not to publicly bid against each other then held private auctions amongst themselves and divided the profits, according to Assistant United States Attorney Russell Carlberg.”

To read more click here.

FBI Makes Arrest in Hacking of Gene Simmons Website

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The FBI arrested a  Connecticut man  Tuesday in connection with a cyberattack on the website of KISS frontman Gene Simmons, NewsCore reports. Kevin George Poe is believed to be a part of the computer hacking collective Anonymous.

Poe was released on a $10,000 bond after being taken into custody without incident, according to the report. Poe took part in a distributed denial of service (DDos) attack in October of 2010 against the rock group frontman’s website GeneSimmons.com, which caused it to crash.

“Our legal team and the FBI have been on the case and we have found a few, shall we say ‘adventurous’ young people, who feel they are above the law,” Simmons wrote on his website.

To read more click here.

Lebanese Man Charged With Supplying Mexican Cartel in U.S.; Allegedly Has Ties to Hezbollah

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A Lebanese man indicted by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va. in November was charged on Tuesday with coordinating a multi-ton shipment of cocaine to the Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel in the United States, along with laundering hundreds of millions of dollars back to Colombian suppliers, reports local NBC affiliate KETK.

CNN reported that the man has ties to Hezbollah, the Lebanese organization the U.S. has labeled as a terrorist group.

The DEA and the US Attorneys Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced the charges against Ayman Joumaa, a.k.a. “Junior.”  That and money laundering charges means Joumaa faces a possible life sentence.

KETK reports that for at least eight years Joumaa and others conspired to bring tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine to the Los Zetas drug cartel in the US through Columbia and Central America.

To read more click here.

 

Appellate Judges Skeptical of Ex-Congressman Jefferson’s Appeal

file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s been six years since FBI agents raided ex-Congressman William Jefferson’s Capitol Hill home and found $90,000 in his freezer, and more than two years since he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for bribery and other public corruption charges.

Still, the 64-year-old New Orleans politician, who lost Jefferson a re-election bid in 2008, hasn’t served one day in prison. He’s out awaiting the outcome of his appeal on a sentence that was the harshest ever given to a member of Congress for a public corruption conviction.

Last week, Appellate judges expressed skepticism about his appeal, according to New Orleans Times-Picayune star reporter Bruce Alpert. Jefferson was convicted in August 2009 of 11 of 16 counts.

Alpert writes that legal experts say Jefferson could get some of the 11 counts overturned.

But the question, according to the Times-Picayune, is whether getting some overturned will make a difference and prompt the stoic federal judge in Alexandria, Va. T.S. Ellis III to lower his sentence.

“He really needs a home run in his appeal, a triple or double might not help him,” Dane Ciolino, a law professor at Loyola University told the Picayune.

To read more click here.

 

MORE STORIES OF INTEREST:

Border Patrols to be Cut by Half

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Federal budget cuts have manifested themselves in a multitude of ways already. Now, dramatically, the Obama administration plans next year to cut the number of National Guard troops patrolling the US-Mexico border by at least half, reports the Washington Times.

Though the White House is not announcing the plans yet, Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter learned of the plan, says half is the minimum number the patrol will have to be cut by, which will mean reshuffling troops already along the border. In Duncan’s state of California, the new plans will mean slashing patrol levels from 264 to just 14.

To read more click here.

 

8 Executives Charged in $100 Million Foreign Bribe Scheme

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

If you’re going to bribe a country, you might as well do it big time.

That’s what eight former executives and agents of Siemens AG and its subsidiaries must have figured.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that the eight had been charged with allegedly engaging in a decade-long scheme to bribe senior Argentina officials  to secure, implement and enforce a $1 billion contract with the government to produce national identity cards.

“Today’s indictment alleges a shocking level of deception and corruption,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer in a statement. “Business should be won or lost on the merits of a company’s products and services, not the amount of bribes paid to government officials.

The indictment charges that the defendants and their co-conspirators conspired to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the wire fraud statute, money laundering conspiracy and wire fraud.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the defendants bribed Argentine officials in two successive administrations “and paid off countless others in a successful effort to secure a billion dollar contract.”

The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to conceal the illicit payments.

For instance, authorities said, one person made cash withdrawals from Siemens AG general-purpose accounts in Germany totaling approximately $10 million, transported the cash across the border into Switzerland and deposited the funds into Swiss bank accounts for transfer to officials.

The defendants charged in the indictment returned late Monday included Uriel Sharef, a former member of the central executive committee of Siemens AG; Herbert Steffen, a former chief executive officer of Siemens Argentina; Andres Truppel, a former chief financial officer of Siemens Argentina; Ulrich Bock, Stephan Signer and Eberhard Reichert, former senior executives of Siemens Business Services (SBS); and Carlos Sergi and Miguel Czysch, who served as intermediaries and agents of Siemens in the bribe scheme.