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September 2022


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

News Story

Police Chief Lured By Xbox 360; Pleads Guilty to Stealing Evidence

By Danny Fenster

“It is a sad day when law enforcement must pursue one of their own,” said US Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois Stephen R. Wigginton. Particularly when it involves stealing evidence, or more specifically, gaming consoles Xbox 360s.

Wigginton was announcing on Thursday the guilty plea of Michael Baxton, the former police chief for the Village of Alorton and the City of East St. Louis. Baxton plead guilty to felony charges of stealing evidence and making false statements to federal investigators, according to a statement from the FBI. Baxton was released on bond pending sentencing on April 27.

“There is no pleasure to be taken in convicting a police officer,” Wigginton added; “…citizens may be confident that they can place their trust in the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers who are honest and professional and who risk their lives every day for our safety.”

Baxton became police chief of Alorton last May when his predecessor pleaded guilty to tax crimes. He was hired by East St. Louis on November 30, 2011, but resigned as part of his plea deal on January 18, 2012.

Alorton police officers reported to the feds that Baxton had been giving favorable treatment to arrestees related to or associated with an unnamed Alorton individual, according to the FBI statement, and that evidence under Baxton’s control was coming up missing and not making it to the crime laboratory for testing. The charges allege the Baxton and the unnamed individual were stealing evidence for personal use or profit.

Federal agents covertly arranged for a vehicle full of the gaming console Xbox 360s’ to become evidence under Baxton’s control. “Baxton responded to the call of an abandoned vehicle along with a Village of Alorton police officer who was assisting the federal investigation in an undercover capacity,” the FBI said. “When Baxton discovered the electronics in the purportedly stolen car, he took four of the devices and directed the other officer to take the fifth one.”

Baxton denied ever taking evidence for himself during a January 5 interview to agents from the IRS and FBI. Confronted with the Xbox 360 incident, Baxton told his interviewers another officer took the consoles, and that Baxton should not have let the officer take them.

FBI: Cop Tipped Off Drug Dealers

By Danny Fenster

The FBI is alleging that  a Georgia cop tipped off drug dealers about an upcoming raid by the bureau, charges that the cop says are untrue, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Gabriel Hoskins III, the police officer, plead not guilty to the charges on Thursday, but was placed on supervised release with a $10,000 unsecured bond, according to the Journal-Constitution. The accusation claims Hoskins was looking up names and identifying information of suspected drug dealers in the FBI’s criminal database, then used the information to tip the drug dealers off.

“It’s very disturbing when law enforcement reveals to criminals that other law enforcement will be conducting a search warrant,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBurney told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It endangers the officers doing the search warrant, and it makes it very likely that whatever evidence might have been in that apartment … like drugs, guns, ledgers … might be destroyed.”

Hoskins is said to have befriended a couple of drug dealers who lived in his apartment complex. He was a volunteer officer  for about a year, working just 16 hours a week.

To read more click here.

Feds Shut Down Wildly Popular Piracy Website; Hackers Retaliate

By Danny Fenster

It was outright war in the cyberworld this week.

The feds on Thursday announced that they had shut down an incredibly popular website Mequapload, only to see hackers retaliate by blocking access to multiple web sites including the Justice Department and Universal Music.

The Justice Department said that seven people and two corporations had been charged  in Alexandria, Va., with running an international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works, through and other related sites.

The feds say the piracy generated more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and caused more than half a billion dollars in harm to copyright owners.

Authorities alleged that Megaupload illegally shared movies, television shows and e-books, pornography, prompting hackers to retaliate by blocking access to several Web sites, including those of the Justice Department and Universal Music. In some cases, people saw movies before their release.

“This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime,” the Justice Department said in its press release.

7 lbs. of Meth Seized in Colo. Ski Town

By Danny Fenster

The mountains aren’t the only way to get high in Colorado Springs, Colo., apparently.

Investigators seized seven pounds of meth and made four arrests in the ski resort town, reports KRDO.

Vincente Martinez,40,  Jovel Cristian, 27, Martin Martinez, 21, and  Rafael Amezcua, 27,  all from Los Angeles, were arrested at a motel in town, according to KRDO.

The DEA Southern Colorado Drug Task Force–a group of DEA agents, local police and the county Sheriff’s offices and ICE–conducted the investigation. The task force has seized 70 pounds of methamphetamine and made 24 arrests since October of 2011.

To read more click here.



Rep. Issa Subpoenas Az Prosecutor in Fast and Furious Probe

Rep. Issa/gov photo

By Allan Lengel

It may be a new year, but the controversy surrounding ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious isn’t going away any time soon.

The latest: Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), head of House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, announced Thursday that a subpoena has been issued for Patrick J. Cunningham, Chief of the Criminal Division in Phoenix.

A press release said that “Mr. Cunningham’s repeated refusals to testify voluntarily have forced the Committee to use compulsory process.”

“During the course of our investigation, the Committee has learned of the outsized role played by the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office – and you specifically – in approving the unacceptable tactics used in Fast and Furious,” Chairman Issa wrote to Cunningham in a letter informing him of the subpoena.

“Senior Justice Department officials have recently told the Committee that you relayed inaccurate and misleading information to the Department in preparation for its initial response to Congress, ” the letter said.

“These officials told us that even after Congress began investigating Fast and Furious, you continued to insist that no unacceptable tactics were used. In fact, documents obtained confidentially just last week appear to confirm that you remained steadfast in your belief that no unacceptable tactics were used, even after the Department’s initial response to the congressional inquiry. Given that the Attorney General has labeled these tactics as unacceptable and Fast and Furious as ‘fundamentally flawed,’ this position is startling.”

In the letter dated Jan. 18, Issa wrote that Cunningham had cancelled his voluntary interview with the committee that was set for Jan. 19.

The subpoena requires Cunningham to appear on Tuesday, January 24 for a deposition.



Smoke Bomb Lands on White House Lawn

By Danny Fenster

Occupy protestors in Washington, D.C., drew the Secret Service out after throwing a smoke bomb on the White House lawn, reports KSTC-TV.

U.S. Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie says there were no arrests made when agents dispersed the crowd on Tuesday night. Still, the White House was on lock down, as people inside were prevented from leaving out of the Pennsylvania Avenue side.

Barack and Michelle Obama were away from the White House celebrating the first lady’s 48th birthday at a nearby restaurant when the smoke bomb was thrown.

Ogilvie says the protest swelled to between 1,000 and 1,500 people at one point.

To read more click here.


Feds Target 4 Calif. Marijuana Shops in Ongoing Crackdown

By Danny Fenster

Over the past week, federal prosecutors filed four asset forfeiture lawsuits against buildings housing “marijuana stores” in Los Angeles and Orange counties, the Department of Justice announced in a statement on Wednesday. The owners of the buildings and operators of the stores have been sent warning letters as well.

The charges claim that business and property owners knowingly allowed marijuana sales to illegally take place. The Department of Justice said the moves were “part of a continuing, coordinated effort against commercial marijuana operations in California that started last fall.” California’s four USAttorneys announced in October coordinated enforcement actions targeting illegal marijuana cultivation and trafficking, the Justice Department said.


FBI: $10 Million Payed Back to Victims

By Danny Fenster

The victims of one of New York’s largest public corruption schemes can breathe a sigh of relief today.

The US Attorney in Rochester, New York, announced on Wednesday that more than $10 million in forfeited property has been returned to the victims of property tax appraisal and assessment schemes orchestrated by property appraiser John Nicolo.

Nicolo and others schemed victims out of millions in 2005 by falsely inflating tax assessments on their properties.  John Nicolo then got the victims — many of them companies — to hire him to reduce the tax assessments,  according to the FBI.

The victims of the scheme include the Eastman Kodak Company, the Town of Greece, IBM, ITT Industries, Inc., RG&E, and Global Crossing.