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Gunfire Exchange Confirmed in Baltimore ATF Operation

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The ATF operation that sent one agent to the hospital this week included an exchange of gunfire, several other injuries and several arrests, reports the Baltimore Sun.

After remaining tight-lipped about the incident, Special Agent Clare A. Weber, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore ATF office, said information about the exchange was initially withheld because of an internal investigation. She said no one was injured from the gunfire, but apparently offered no details on the injuries.

A video of the incident shows that the exchange took place in the parking lot of a storage company in an industrial section of Baltimore. “That video showed a white SUV speeding across the lot, the passenger side door open, and crashing into another car,” reports the Sun. The video also showed police snipers positioned on rooftops.

To read more click here.

 

Mich. Fire Chief Pleads Not Guilty in FBI Probe

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It’s tough to come by a buck in Metro-Detroit these days.

Still, Jeffrey Hawkins, a 46-year-old former fire chief for Pontiac, Mich.–a city at the northern end of Detroit’s metropolitan area–maintains that he did not ignore fire violations in exchange for cash.

Hawkins plead not guilty on Tuesday after turning himself in following an FBI investigation into an alleged shakedown he had with a local bar.

The bar owner told the FBI that Hawkins offered not to report the violations in exchange for $1,000. Hawkins allegedly took $500 from the owner in August of 2009 and another $500 from an undercover FBI agent in April of 2010.

To read more click here.

FBI Questions W. Va Treasurer’s Employees in Widening Probe

John Perdue/govt. photo By Danny Fenster

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com
 
FBI Agents spread out across West Virginia on Tuesday night to question employees of the state Treasurer John Perdue about $1,000 campaign contributions made to his unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial primary campaign last spring, reports the Charleston Gazette.

“A number of individuals are being interviewed this evening,” U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin told the paper. “Beyond that, I can’t comment further.”

The FBI and the US Attorney’s Office were already investigating a property sale by Perdue, but the new questioning indicates a widening of the scope of the investigation. They questioned employees over whether they had donated $1,000 themselves or had been given the money to donate to their boss, an illegal practice.

Thirty-five employees of the Treasurer’s Office donated $1,000 each — the maximum allowed — to Perdue’s campaign. Some of the donators earned less than $35,000 a year, according to the Gazette, which raised questions as to how they could afford such a contribution.

To read more click here.

Book Excerpt: Young J. Edgar


 By KEN ACKERMAN

EDGAR BOARDED THE OVERNIGHT TRAIN on Tuesday, April 6, 1920, carrying a suitcase with a few notes and a change of clothes. It took ten hours to reach Boston from Washington, and he used the time sitting alone to read, think, and steal a few hours’ sleep. The next morning, he stepped out on the platform at South Station and found Boston’s two top federal prosecutors waiting there to meet him: United States Attorney Thomas J. Boynton and his assistant Louis Goldberg. They took him to breakfast and showed him the Wednesday morning newspapers.

Edgar must have grinned ear to ear at what he saw. Every single one featured a story about him, one more glowing than the next. EXPERT ON REDS COMING HERE, shouted

the Boston American on its front page. “John E. Hoover is the man, it was disclosed, who had direct charge of the Red raids all over the United States early

in January.” The Boston Post called him the one who “directed all the activities of the United States government against radicals during the past two years.”

So too the Boston Evening Globe: MAN HERE WHO DIRECTED

NATIONWIDE RAIDS, read its headline.

Edgar had left Washington a frustrated government bureaucrat. He arrived in Boston a law enforcement star.

He couldn’t enjoy himself for long, though. They had work to do. As Edgar sipped coffee and nibbled his egg, Boynton and Goldberg briefed him on the problem facing them in court that day. The trial in the habeas corpus case, the one brought for the prisoners on Deer Island, had gone wildly off course. On the first day of testimony, lawyers for the prisoners had embarrassed the government and threatened to blow the case wide open.

Read more »

State Rep. Accepts Lobbyist Cash, Pleads Guilty

Terry Spicer

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A former state representative in Alabama  pleaded guilty Tuesday to accepting cash, gifts and campaign money from a businessman and a lobbyist in exchange for political favors, the Justice Department said.

Terry Spicer,  46, who had been cooperating with the government long before 11 arrests were made in a  vote-buying investigation involving the the Alabama Legislature, admitted to accepting monthly cash payments from lobbyists, gifts of ski trips to Breckenridge, Colo.

Authorities said that from 2006 to 2010, Spicer accepted bribes from Jarrod Massey, a former lobbyist in Montgomery, Ala., and his client, businessman Ronnie Gilley.

Spicer admitted receiving cash, campaign services and a ski vacation from Massey in exchange for Spicer using his official position to obtain lobbying business for Massey.

Spicer also admitted that he accepted campaign contributions and entertainment concert tickets from businessman Gilley in return for Spicer’s official assistance in favor of Gilley’s business projects and interests, the Justice Department said.

Both Massey and Gilley have pleaded guilty to paying and offering bribes to Spicer and other legislators.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Inmate Threatens Fed Judge and to Blow Up Fed Courthouse

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Clifford Cousins will not be out on good behvior any time soon.

The 41-year-old prison inmate, already serving time for murder, arson and robbery–he was once accused of threatening President George Bush–is facing new charges of threatening a federal judge in northeast Ohio.

Cousins, also known as Abdullah Jihad Al-Malik, was angered with U.S. District Judge David Dowd, of Akron, Ohio, for refusing to allow Cousins to serve state and federal sentences simultaneously. So Cousins sent a “menacing series of letters” to the judge and his family, reports Cleveland’s FOX affiliate. He also threatened to blow up the federal court building in Akron. Cousins also put white powder in the envelope of a letter which claimed the substance was arsenic.

This week a federal grand jury returned an eight count indictment against Cousins, which could potentially tack on 100 years to his prison term.

To read more click here.

Ex-Fed Prosecutor: A Letter to My Son on Moral Decisions in Light of Penn State

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Dear Son,

As your enthusiasm builds for leaving home and going off to college in a few months, I want to talk with you about having to make on-the-spot moral, legal, and social decisions when you are on your own.

As you know, the news has been filled with reports and commentary about the alleged incidents at Penn State involving former Defensive Coach Jerry Sandusky sexually molesting disadvantaged young boys who participated in his charity. He has denied the charges in the indictment, and due process of law will determine his guilt or innocence.

Up for discussion in the unforgiving public forum are the actions of Assistant Coach Mike McQueary who, on March 1, 2002 at 9:30 p.m., while he was a grad assistant entered the practice facility to obtain some video tapes to review. He heard noises from the shower area and went to investigate. According to reports of his grand jury testimony, he was “distraught” when he saw Sandusky raping a ten-year old boy.

It is unclear what happened next. McQueary apparently made no mention in the grand jury about intervening to save the child, but in the last couple days he has hinted that he forced Sandusky to stop. He then called his father, with whom he had a close relationship, for advice on what to do next. Then he contacted Coach Joe Paterno and reported the incident. Later he also told two other Athletic Department officials. These three, however, say that his report was not detailed enough to cause them to take further action of some kind.

It is clear that no one reported the crime to the police or to Child Protective Services. Allegedly Sandusky’s access to the children and the Penn State facilities was not restricted, and he inflicted other such assaults on children during the nine years that have followed. Both Paterno and McQueary continued to publicly support Sandusky’s charitable activities.

The public reaction to McQueary and Paterno has ranged from commendation to vilification. Paterno, probably the most revered football coach in America, was summarily fired and McQueary, perhaps because of his legal protection as a whistleblower, has been placed on paid administrative leave. Probably neither will have any connection to college football again.

The issue worth thinking about is whether McQueary’s response, whatever it was, presents a moral and legal lesson for the rest of us. In my generation a woman named Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death in New York’s Central Park while dozens failed to take action when they heard her cries for help. Social psychologists have labeled the phenomenon diffusion of responsibility or bystander effect, but the bottom line is that, when confronted with a moral imperative, people who could have saved her life failed to act.

McQueary has been showered with the moral opprobrium of the commentators who have assumed he failed to stop the assault. They have hastened to assure their listeners that they would have assuredly stepped up stopped the violence and called the cops. Jane Turner, an FBI psychological profiler who specializes in child sex crimes, however has indicated that in her experience most people would have walked away as McQueary is alleged to have done. Turner writes:

“It takes enormous strength to put one’s moral integrity over your personal inclination to protect fellow colleagues who have committed malfeasance, or criminal activity. The FBI, like Penn State and the Catholic Church, are entities that allows their personnel to report allegations up a chain of command but those in positions of power or change, fail to take immediate or strong actions. It simply boils down to the fact that those in power have a stronger desire to preserve the reputation of their institution, than taking the road of truth or justice. Entities like Penn State, the Catholic Church and the FBI all share something in common; they operate in an insular world where rules or laws that apply to everyone else, do not apply to them.”

Early in my career as a prosecutor, my boss Len Gilman made it clear to us that our job was to do what was right even if we as individuals or our office had to pay the price of being embarrassed or worse. And a couple times we were.

Assume for the sake of this letter that Mike McQueary is neither a hero nor a villain but just a guy who hesitated, as a majority of others would have in 2002, when suddenly confronted with a terrible moral issue. Just a guy who knew that the price to be paid for more aggressive action would be to jeopardize the head coach he idolized, the powerful institution and football program to which he was so loyal, and the future he wanted so badly.

So he called his dad for guidance, then Joe Pa. And that apparently was it, for nine years, until it hit the fan, as it seems with increasing frequency to do. If we have learned nothing else from the massive tragedy that has so damaged the Catholic Church, it is that doing nothing, protecting people and institutions that seem so invulnerable at the time, will usually be disastrous for everyone concerned. And now a legend will die, a great university tarnished for a generation and saddled with millions of dollars of civil settlements, and an apparently otherwise fine young man’s dreams dashed forever. Worst of all, boys who had tough enough lives already were damaged by a man who should have been isolated so he couldn’t harm others.

Son, I hope you always have the luxury of time for meditation and parental guidance before you have to act on a moral issue. But if you don’t, consider this your father’s advice.

Demonstrate the courage I know you have to step up, do what is right, protect the vulnerable, call the police and support them in any way they ask. If there is a price to pay, we will share it together and you will be compensated by the respect of your family and friends.

Oh, and call your mother once in a while.

Dad

Hispanics and Muslims Targeted More in 2010 Hate Crimes

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

FBI crime stats released Monday show  the proportion of hate crimes committed against Hispanics have reached a decade high, with 66 percent of ethnically motivated hate crimes being committed on the basis of anti-Hispanic bias, reports the Huffington Post.

The Huffington Post also reported in a separate article that the  level of anti-Muslim hate crimes “soared by an astounding 50 percent” above 2009 levels. The statistics show that there were 107 attacks on Muslims in 2009, and 160 in 2010.

The jump in the overall percentage of hate crimes attributed to anti-Hispanic bias has jumped dramatically, the Huffington Post reported. There were 595 Hispanic victims in 2003–almost 45 percent of the total that year–but, at 66 percent of the total for 2010, there 747 victims last year.