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Column: Lawmaker Claims Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Protecting Staff in Fast and Furious

Rep. Issa/gov photo

By Rep. Darrell Issa
USA Today

As facts continue to emerge about a botched gun investigation of Mexican cartels, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has given the American people reason to doubt his ability to effectively lead the Department of Justice.

His reasoning and judgment will be tested once again Thursday as he testifies about the “Fast and Furious” operation before the House Judiciary Committee.

Nearly a year after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed by a weapon linked to the botched operation, Holder’s Justice Department has spent far more time and resources trying to salvage the careers of senior officials who knew about the operation than in creating accountability for this tragedy and ensuring that nothing like this will happen again.

Conceived by the Phoenix Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives — a Justice Department agency — Fast and Furious began in November 2009 after calls by Justice officials to focus resources on Mexican drug cartel leaders rather than low-level straw buyers.

To read more click here.

Ex-ATF Agent Gets 21 Months

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A former Oklahoma ATF Agent was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Tuesday for helping Tulsa police falsify evidence against suspected drug dealers, reports KCBD.

Brandon McFadden was a Lubbock, Okla. police officer before becoming and ATF agents. He pleaeded guilty to the charges last year and had been living in the area while awaiting sentencing. He agreed to work with federal prosecutors for a lighter sentence; he was facing up to five years. Two police officers were also sentenced.

 

FBI Investigating Detroit School Contract

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Funding teen suicide prevention efforts is a laudable act, no doubt. But that all depends, of course, on whether the funding is actually being used for that purpose.

In Detroit, FBI agents are investigating allegations that a fundraiser for Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, who was investigated earlier this year on “pay-to-play” charges, was paid top dollar to host teen suicide prevention forums that never occurred, reports the Detroit News.

For at least two weeks federal agents have been investigating a contract from 2008 to Larry D. Dickerson for hosting 12 school forums for the “Behind Happy Faces Initiative,” as well as other mental health efforts, sources told The Detroit News; but former Commissioner Phil Cavanagh said only two of the forums occurred. Dickerson was paid $70,000 for the forums.

Officials from school districts that were supposed to host the forums said that cannot find any indications the forums occurred, according to the Detroit News.

“With Wayne County and Detroit going bankrupt and emergency managers knocking at the door, how on earth can they afford these kinds of boondoggles?” asked Ralph Kinney, a former Ficano aide.

To read more click here.

Head of FBI’s Norfolk Office Off to Headquarters

Alex Turner

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Alex J. Turner, special agent in charge the Norfolk, Va. FBI office since January 2008, is headed to headquarters in D.C.  to serve as Deputy Assistant Director of the agency’s Security Division, reports the Virginian-Pilot.

Turner was born in Oklahoma. He went to school at the University of Maryland then began his career as a police officer in Greenbelt, Md. Turner previously worked as the chief of the national and criminal enterprise program at FBI headquarters, as well as a 10 year stint in Atlanta as an undercover in drug cases, later managing the office’s gang task force,

FBI Investigates Russian World Cup Bid

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Did anybody find it surprising when Russia beat out England for the 2018 World Cup bid? How about Qatar beating the US for the 2022 bid?

The FBI seems to think it strange. A group of agents with the “Eurasian organized crime” unit are investigating a possible email hacking related to the selection process, and some of the hackers may be tied to Russia, reports Dead Spin. The US originally sought the 2018 bid, which would have put them in direct competition with Russia, which has denied an part in the hacking. Members of England’s bid team were recently questioned about the hacking by FBI investigators.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST:

Column: Blago’s Biggest Crime: He Assumed He Was Smarter Than All of Us

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ok, so I wouldn’t have given ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich 14 years in prison for his infinite arrogance and his corrupt ways. Ten or 12 would have sufficed.

That being said, I can’t say he didn’t deserve getting the toughest sentence of any crooked Illinois governor. He never stopped yapping and denying and lying. He went on Letterman and the View and the Daily Show and came up with more trash than a mobbed-up sanitation firm.

The worst part about it all is that he assumed we were all dumber than him.

It was obvious the sentencing Judge James Zagel wasn’t dumber than Blago. And it was easy to see from press reports from the two trials that the judge didn’t appreciate his shenanigans.

In Blago’s first trial, the prosecution screwed up. It made the case far too complicated for the jury. The jury came back with one conviction out of 24 counts. Blago and his attorneys had sense of enough not to put Blago on the stand.

But in the second trial, prosecutors convicted Blago on 17 of 20 counts. Blago took the stand — the arrogant guy that he is — hoping to dupe the jury. That didn’t work.

Blago turns 55 on Dec. 10. He’s set to report to prison in February. He’ll be gone a long long time.

I feel sorry for him. Even though he has a law degree and served in Congress and was governor, he wasn’t a very smart guy.

And the dumbest thing he did was assume he was a smart guy — smarter than all the rest of us.

OUCH! Judge Hammers Blago With 14 Year Sentence

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com
A federal judge in Chicago on Wednesday socked Rod Blagojevich, the ever-chatty ex-Illinois Governor, with a 14-year prison term, just one year short of the minimum the prosecution had recommended, according to the Chicago Tribune. He is now scheduled to report to prison Feb. 16.
 

“The vast majority of facts in this case were not disputed,” Judge James Zagel said at sentencing, according to Chicago News Cooperative reporter Idalmy Carrera. “It’s very difficult to dispute what was on the recordings.”

The prosecution in court papers had asked the judge to sentence Blago to 15 to 20 years.

But during the sentencing hearing, which began on Tuesday, the  defense tried to play up the good things Blagojevich had done as governor, and his role as a responsible father. “Whatever good things you did for people as governor…I am more concerned with the occasions where you used your power only to do good for yourself,” Judge Zagel said to him before sentencing.

A crowd of 50 or so had gathered outside the courtroom this morning for the second day of sentencing as Blagojevich and his wife Patti entered the courtroom holding hands, tweeted Chicago Tribune reporter Annie Sweeney. Blagojevich appeared to be more open to the press, joking with some reporters.

Blagojevich listened, shaking his head as the prosecution described him as manipulative, calling his corruption “perverse and unbound.” The former governor then acknowledged and apologized profusely for his crimes–acts Zagel later said came too late, describing the pain of explaining his guilty verdict to his daughters.

It had been clear by the end of yesterday’s court session, the Chicago Tribune reported, that the sentence would be stiff and the defense had given up the idea of avoiding prison altogether.

“I have nobody to blame but myself,” Blagojevich said in his final statements, then asked Judge Zagel for mercy before the court went to recess and the sentence was read.

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald issued a statement saying:

“Blagojevich betrayed the trust and faith that Illinois voters placed in him, feeding great public frustration, cynicism and disengagement among citizens. People have the right to expect that their elected leaders will honor the oath they swear to, and this sentence shows that the justice system will stand up to protect their expectations.”

Robert D. Grant, head of the Chicago FBI added: “The sentence handed down today represents a repayment of the debt that Blagojevich owes to the people of Illinois. While promising an open and honest administration, in reality, the former governor oversaw a comprehensive assault on the public’s trust.”

The sentence was by far the harshest any crooked Illinois governor had been given. And it topped by one year the 13-year sentence a fed judge in Alexandria, Va. had given ex-New Orleans Congressman William Jefferson was given in 2008 after being convicted on public corruption charges.  Jefferson remains free pending an appeal.

Ex-Mo. Sheriff Gets 18 Months, Snapped Pictures of Womens’ Breasts During Illegal Searches

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Former sheriff of Worth County, Mo. Neal Wayne “Bear” Groom was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison followed by a year of supervised release for violating the civil rights of several women by getting them to expose parts of their body, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

Following an FBI probe,  Groom pleaded guilty on August 17 to coercing women into exposing body parts to him, in violation of Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable search and seizure. Groom also admitted to taking photographs of the women’s exposed or partially covered breasts.

Groom often said he was looking for domestic violence injuries or drug injection marks to force women into revealing their flesh, though he admitted in the plea that he conducted the searches for no legitimate law enforcement purpose, according to the Justice Department.

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Beth Phillips said in a statement:  “We will not tolerate law enforcement officers who take advantage of the individuals whom they are sworn to protect.   Such individuals shake the public’s confidence in law enforcement and thus harm not only the victims they target but also the community at large.”