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News Story

Ex-Secret Service Agent Reflects on Time in Agency

President Bush

This story as told by Edmund Skrodzki, ex-Secret Service and current executive director of campus safety and security at The Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus.
 
Baltimore Magazine

There’s never a typical day with the Secret Service. One day you can be doing an investigation, and the next day they send you out to be part of a protection detail for a foreign dignitary—or, you travel with the President.

In 1990, I was assigned to George Herbert Walker Bush. The President’s protected 24-7. You work shift work and rotate every two weeks. You are either with the President or you’re on an advanced team setting up security arrangements. You’re gone a minimum of 50 percent of your time because the President travels. Somebody’s got to be with him. I’ve traveled the world at least twice probably.

You really don’t speak to the President unless he speaks to you. Both George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton were very outgoing and liked to communicate, so it wasn’t unusual to have conversations with them.

To read more click here.

 

Last of Three Sentenced in Attempted Cocaine Smuggling Sting

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The third and final defendant in a DEA operation targeting three Colombian drug runners tied to a Colombian drug cartel has been sentenced in Seattle, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Hector Fabio Zapata was slapped with 30 years in prison on Monday, the last to face sentencing in the cocaine-trafficking probe. Like his partner in crime, Miguel Antonio Jimenez Torres, Zapata never was not charged with sending cocaine to the US, but the prosecution successfully argued that they and others paid an undercover DEA agent to  smuggle cocaine in the states by the tons, a plan that never came to fruition, the online newspaper reported.

The long-running sting was targeted at purported drug lord Jose Riascos, the father of codefendant Nivaldo Riascos. Jose killed himself as Colombian police raided his jungle compound, accord to the Post-Intelligencer.

Jimenez, Zapata and Riascos Jr. all received sentences in the multi-decades range.

To read more click here.

Minn. Woman Sentenced to 15 Years for Threats to Vice Pres. Biden and FBI

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Postal Service is grateful people can’t email everything. But this certainly wasn’t what it had in mind.

A Minnesota woman was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Monday for mailing threats to Vice President Joe Biden, an FBI agent and others over the past two decades, reports the Star Tribune.

Kim Rolene Hutterer, of New Prague, Minn., rambled out what the paper called an “apology of sorts,” pleading that she just wanted an intimate relationship with someone in law enforcement and to be respected by society. US District Judge Paul Magnuson of Minneapolis said in court he has long had “deep feelings” about jailing the mentally ill, but felt Hutterer’s threats are becoming more serious even after pleading guilty, the paper reported.

“This is one of the most serious matters that has ever appeared in this court,” he said.

Hutterer admitted to threatening to kill a US Bureau of Prisons employee in September of 2010, as well as other threats, including ones against Biden and Minnesota FBI special agent Dean Scheidler. “Never has my family been threatened the way she has done,” said Scheidler, who has locked away drug dealers, thieves and terrorists. The threats grew so bad Scheidler said his daughter now carries around a notebook to jot down the license plates of suspicious cars in the neighborhood.

To read more click here.

Islamic Extremist or an FBI-Created Extremist?

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities have arrested an Islamic extremist, but Adam Martin at the Atlantic Wire is skeptical.

Kosovo-born Sami Osmakac is being charged with plotting to bomb Tampa, Fla.-area nightclubs and a sheriff’s office to “avenge wrongs done to Muslims,” according to the AP. But Martin is quite ready to pat the Feds on the back.

“It’s a dramatic-sounding bust for the F.B.I.,” writes Martin, “but becomes a little less so after you learn the guy only had access to the weapons he wanted because an undercover agent provided it.” Martin then quoted a tweet from a British newspaper editor: “Interesting how most terror plots ‘thwarted’ by the FBI are actually fake plots created by the FBI,” tweeted Benji Green.

Osmakac gave an FBI agent $500 as a down payment for an AK-47, an explosive belt and homemade grenades, and asked for additional weapons, obtaining some of the arms after being rendered inoperable by agents.

To read more click here.

US Soldier Ditches the Army, Tried to Join Terror Group in Somalia

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A former Army soldier was charged Monday in federal court in Greenbelt, Md., with  attempting to provide material support to al Shabaab, the terrorist organization, the FBI said in a statement.

Craig Benedict Baxam, 24, of Laurel, Maryland, was arrested on Friday, January 6, when he returned to his home state from a visit to Africa, the FBI statement says.

A criminal complaint alleges Baxam “intended to travel to Somalia and join the terrorist organization al Shabaab,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said. “Mr. Baxam was caught in Kenya before he reached Somalia, and there is no allegation that anyone assisted him.”

According to the FBI, Baxam joined the US Army in 2001, where he completed training in cryptology and intelligence before being deployed to Baghdad. Afterwards, he reenlisted. He deployed for a one-year assignment in Korea in August of 2010. But a month before finishing his stint in Korea, Baxam left the Army and returned home to Maryland in July 2011.

The affidavit that came with the criminal complaint claims Baxam had converted to Islam just before leaving the Army, intending to move to Somalia and live under Sharia law and join al Shabaab–a group designated by the US Department of State as a foreign terrorist organization in February of 2008.

Baxam cashed in his approximately $3,600 in savings and hopped a flight to Kenya,  and planned to travel with $600 or $700 to by road to Somalia. He planned to give the remaining money to the terrorist group as an offering. He was stopped by Kenyan police near Mombasa, Kenya on December 23, 2011, where he was detained and interviewed by the FBI.

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Mich. Boy Scout Camp Director Gets 95 Years for Child Porn

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A 40-year-old director of a Boy Scout camp in Western Michigan got socked on Friday with a 95-year prison term in Grand Rapids federal court for child pornography charges.

Specifically, Scott Allan Herrick surreptitiously videotaped boys as they were dressing in the locker room in the YMCA in Muskegon, and kept a massive collection of 100,000 images of child pornography with him at the Gerber Boy Scout Camp in Twin Lakes, Mich., federal authorities said.

On the first day of trial, Herrick pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.

U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney said at sentencing that that the sexual exploitation of children by using institutions like the Boy Scouts and the YMCA “tears at the social fabric of our country.”

Herrick was the camp director for Gerber Boy Scout Camp in Twin Lakes, Mich., and also worked as a pool safety instructor for third grade children at the YMCA in Muskegon.

Authorities said he was trading child pornography and was discovered during a series of undercover FBI operations. He was arrested July 8.

U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis echoed the judge’s concerns: “Herrick used and abused his position of trust in organizations dedicated to the health and welfare of children to satisfy his own perverse sexual interest in young boys.”

 

DEA Agent May Lose Gun After Fight with Girlfriend

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A DEA Agent may have his gun and ammo taken away from him after being arrested on domestic violence charges in Foster City, Calif., reports the Lagonian.

Jay Anderson, a 29-year-old special agent with the DEA, was arrested on October 8 but will not face prosecution for the charges. He faced felony domestic violence and false imprisonment charges, but the District Attorney for San Mateo cited insufficient evidence in deciding to press charges, said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, the paper reported.

Still, the Foster City Police Department filed a Dec. 1 petition to keep and destroy one of Anderson’s two guns because returning the items “would be likely to result in endangering the victim or the person reporting the assault or threat,” according to the petition, the paper reported. His other gun was not cited in the petition.

Anderson was at a wedding at a local recreation center on Oct. 7 when he got into a fight with his girlfriend, according to a police report, when a man called police to report a physical altercation between a man and a woman shortly after midnight. The responding officer wrote in the incident that Anderson had “forcibly grabbed the female victim on both of her shoulders then intermittently shoved the victim’s chest, causing her to slump down into the area between the driver’s seat and the driver’s door panel.”

To read more click here.

ICE: Federal Immigration Program to Become Mandatory by 2013

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Provisions which allowed local law enforcement officials more choices in complying with the federal Secure Communities immigration enforcement program will be “streamlined” or “eliminated,” bringing law enforcement groups in line with federal mandates, reports the LA Times.

The information-sharing program between the FBI and local law enforcement, which allows the FBI to share with ICE fingerprints collected from county jails, was implemented two years ago as a way to focus immigration enforcement on “serious convicted criminals,” according to the LA Times. However, it has come under fire as a large portion of the immigrants in the system were never convicted of crimes or were low-level offenders, the Times reported.

Dated Oct. 2, 2010 but only released recently, a 9-page letter from a legal advisor for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that “choices available to law enforcement agencies who have thus far decided to decline or limit their participation in current information-sharing processes will be streamlined and aspects eliminated. In that way, the process, in essence, becomes ‘mandatory’ in 2013.”

To read more click here.