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Secret Service Officer Sues Oklahoma Narcotics Agents for Drug Raid in 2008

By Allan Lengel
tickletheire.com

A U.S. Secret Service officer from Maryland is suing the an Oklahoma narcotics agent as a result of a 2008 raid at his home in a multi-state steroids probe, the Tulsa World reported.

Lester Blount Jr. of Prince Georges County, Md., whose job is to protect federal buildings and functions, is suing Brian Surber, an agent for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, the paper reported.

Blount alleged that Surber was among the agents who used excessive force —  they held his family at gunpoint — during a raid at his home, the paper reported.  His children at the time were 1, 3 and 8.

Blount was put on a 22 month  administrative leave without pay before returning to work, the paper reported.

The lawsuit claims Surber used excessive force and made false statements in the search warrant affidavit, the paper reported.

“The search warrant was based on unverified allegations of steroid possession and distribution and the fact that Mr. Blount had a ‘muscular physique,’ ” the suit states, according to the paper.

“The charges, for which the unsupported search warrant was issued, were eventually dropped by Defendant because Mr. Blount is not, in fact, a drug user or dealer,” the lawsuit states.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Mobster Whitey Bulger’s Girlfriend Catherine Greig Was Loyal til the End

By Katherine Q. Seelye
The New York Times

From an early age, Catherine Elizabeth Greig knew the life of a moll. By about 20, she had married a Boston firefighter named Bobby McGonagle, joining a family with close ties to a gang that was part of the Irish mafia in their South Boston neighborhood. Violence and shootouts were not uncommon as gangs warred for control of the rackets.

Mr. McGonagle and Ms. Greig were divorced within a few years, and she became involved with Mr. Bulger, who is more than 20 years her senior.

It was a sign, perhaps, that if she could overlook his possible involvement in the deaths of her two brothers-in-law, she could overlook a lot more.

To read full story click here.

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Justice Department Hunts Nazis

Head of Boston FBI Says Speculation That the FBI Didn’t Want to Find Whitey Bulger is “Completely Unfounded”

Richard DesLauriers

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The head of the Boston FBI  Richard DesLauriers responded Friday to public speculation that the FBI didn’t really want to find mobster James “Whitey” Bulger because he had so much dirt on the agency that could surface publicly.  He called the claims  “completely unfounded.”

DesLauriers, in a statement issued Friday afternoon, said:

“There has been some speculation that the FBI knew about the location of Mr. Bulger prior to the initiation of the FBI’s most recent publicity campaign regarding Catherine Greig and James J. “Whitey” Bulger. (Greig is Bulger’s girlfriend).

“To ensure that there is no misunderstanding about the FBI’s search for Mr. Bulger, I want to reiterate statements I made earlier on this matter.

“Any claim that the FBI knew Mr. Bulger’s whereabouts prior to the FBI’s publicity efforts this week are completely unfounded. When we learned his location, he was arrested promptly.”

“The FBI crafted a media plan to reach as many people as possible. As is now evident, this effort was successful and led directly to the arrest of Mr. Bulger, and highlights the importance of the public’s assistance in these matters.”

Some have suggested that  Bulger has much more  dirt to spill on the FBI, the result of  agents using him as an informant, all while letting him get away with crimes as part of Boston’s notorious Irish mob.  Bulger, who was on the lam for 16 years, was charged in 19 murders.

Other law enforcement agencies in the state complained that the FBI at the time protected Bulger, and sabotaged some of their cases. It caused strains between the FBI and some of the law enforcement agencies.

Bulger, 81, and his girlfriend Catherine Greig, who was wanted for harboring a fugitive,  were captured Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif. shortly after the FBI launched a nationwide TV campaign that focused on Greig.  The FBI said it received a tip on Tuesday night as a direct result of the public service announcement campaign. Agents found $800,000 in their apartment along with about 30 weapons.

On Friday, the Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen wrote a column that  may have added to the speculation about the FBI’s resolve to find Bulger.

“It was hard to find anyone in the Boston Police Department, the State Police, or the US Drug Enforcement Administration who truly believed the FBI wanted to find Bulger. He was the FBI’s prized, if highly overrated, snitch, and he had murdered many while the FBI protected him and compromised other investigations that other law enforcement agencies mounted against Bulger,” he wrote.

“Bulger used to have the FBI in his pocket; now all he has in that pocket is the potential for revenge, should he choose to exact it. He has told friends — indeed he has even told corrupt FBI agents — that the FBI reneged on their deal to let him run his venal little empire as long as he fed them crumbs on the competition.”

“The obsession with the details of Bulger’s arrest is understandable. But the bigger picture is this: there has been a carefully constructed narrative, one of damage control for the FBI and Justice Department, which is now at risk.”

Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles, where Bulger was captured, said of the speculation questioning the FBI’s resolve:

“There’s no merit to it.”

After 9 Days of Deliberation, No Verdict in Blago Case; Judge Appears to Have Imposed a Gag Order


Ex-Gov. Blagojevich in happier days

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

After 9 days of deliberation, the Chicago federal  jurors in the retrial of Rod Blagojevich went home Thursday at the end of the day. They won’t t be back til Monday morning, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The paper also reported that it appeared that U.S. District Judge James Zagel had imposed a gag order. However, the paper reported that no one would comment on that (now that’s a real gag order).

The paper reported that there had been a series of sealed court filings in the case after Sam Adam Jr., a defense attorney in the first case, appeared on radio TV last week and predicted an acquital on all 20 counts.

Column: Ex-ATF Official Says System of Presidentially Appointing an ATF Director Isn’t Working

James Cavanaugh was an ATF agent and supervisor for 33 years before retiring in 2010.

James Cavanaugh/atf photo

By James Cavanaugh
For ticklethewire.com

Since 2006 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives has been without a confirmed director to lead its critical missions for America.

I spent more than 33 years in ATF and I have worked for every director and acting director that the Bureau has ever had. They were good men, all (unfortunately we never had a woman).

Today, as the men and women of ATF face great challenges in the field, they also face some of their greatest criticisms. Now, more than ever, ATF needs a permanent director. Unfortunately, we’re not likely to get one under the current system: The Presidential appointment.

It used to be the director was appointed by the Department of Treasury or the Justice Department. That changed and the position was then supposed to be filled by presidential appointment.

The change was done for the right reasons: Respect for position and the agency, plus it was supposed to give ATF more equal footing in the law enforcement community.

Unfortunately, the change has not worked well. We need to go back to the umbrella agency – in this case the Justice Department — appointing an ATF director. It’s the only way we’ll get the permanent director we need.

Let’s face it. St. Peter himself could not get confirmed by presidential appointment as the Director of ATF in these times. I don’t fault lobby groups and political leaders for their concern and views on such matters. The difficulties in getting a presidentially appointed director are monumental based on the political realities of the country. Andrew Traver, who heads the Chicago ATF, was nominated by President Obama last November to become the new director, but his confirmation was stalled in the Senate, the result of strong opposition from the NRA.

Official Washington is obsessed with titles and the supernumerary trappings of power.

Presidential appointments allow access to that certain club of the political world. Anyone who holds a presidentially appointed position should be proud of that appointment.

Nevertheless, a presidential appointment is not required to be a strong and effective leader. And isn’t what this is all about?

Leaders earn and gain their real power not from certificates or anointments, rather from three things: Their integrity, their willingness to accept responsibility and their experience and competence to do the job.

So, in essence, the most effective way to get that leader is to keep it where it had been for the many decades: In the career civil service and in the career Senior executive service. The Justice Department can choose a very able person from that system to head up the agency.

I believe the director of ATF should be an ATF Special Agent, one who has sat out all night in the rain on a surveillance, worked on difficult bombings and arson cases, made undercover buys from violent felons, worked with victims of violent crime, talked to gun and explosives dealers and understands their issues, obtained and served dangerous search warrants, testified many times as a witness, worked with informants, heard shots fired in anger, and listened to the hate filled rants of Klansmen and militiamen neo-Nazis.

In other words,  a  leader who understands and has experienced the unique challenges that ATF faces.

Let’s fix this now.

Boston Columnist Says FBI Needs to Let Other Agencies Help Restore Public Confidence in Whitey Bulger Case

Updated Bulger photo/wbur

By Kevin Cullen
Boston Globe Columnist

For the past 23 years, Whitey Bulger was the FBI’s worst nightmare.

Now he’s their prisoner.

It was hard to find anyone in the Boston Police Department, the State Police, or the US Drug Enforcement Administration who truly believed the FBI wanted to find Bulger. He was the FBI’s prized, if highly overrated, snitch, and he had murdered many while the FBI protected him and compromised other investigations that other law enforcement agencies mounted against Bulger.

Bulger used to have the FBI in his pocket; now all he has in that pocket is the potential for revenge, should he choose to exact it. He has told friends — indeed he has even told corrupt FBI agents — that the FBI reneged on their deal to let him run his venal little empire as long as he fed them crumbs on the competition.

The obsession with the details of Bulger’s arrest is understandable. But the bigger picture is this: there has been a carefully constructed narrative, one of damage control for the FBI and Justice Department, which is now at risk. It was a narrative that held that Whitey Bulger was protected by a rogue FBI agent, John Connolly, and a rogue FBI supervisor, John Morris, both of whom had been dealt with: Connolly was given a life sentence and sent off to prison, and Morris was given immunity and sent off to disgrace.

To read the full column click here.

ATF Hosts Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month Program at HQ

Rep. Barney Frank

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ATF had a gathering at headquarters in D.C. the other day that wasn’t  typical of the ones you see in federal law enforcement.

The agency on Wednesday hosted its first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month program at its headquarters, with Acting Director Kenneth Melson providing remarks along with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass), an openly gay Congressman.

ATF billed the event as a celebration “in recognition of the accomplishments and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans to ATF and the nation, and to promote awareness of the LGBT culture.”

“ATF works to ensure sexual orientation discrimination and prejudice are not tolerated in our workplace,” said Melson. “ATF is an equal employment opportunity environment where effective and equitable participation is encouraged.”