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Feds Arrest Man for Threatening to Kill N.M. Fed Judge

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Emailing may be hazardous to your freedom

Brian Stacy of Los Alamos, N.M. was arrested Wednesday for allegedly sending emails threatening to murder U.S. District Judge John E. Conway in Albuquerque, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

Authorities said Stacy has prior arrests for possession of an unregistered firearm and numerous probation violations one of which was for threatening a Federal Probation Officer.

The subject line of one email, according to an FBI affidavit, was “I’m going to kill you spick.”

Some of the text included: “a little faggot midget like yourself is dead you queer!” and “I kill people like you for fun.”

Pres. Bush Sent Alberto Gonzales to See Ashcroft in Hospital, The Atlantic Reports

Alberto Gonzales/Fox 34

By Murray Waas
The Atlantic

In March 2004, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales made a now-famous late-night visit to the hospital room of Attorney General John Ashcroft, seeking to get Ashcroft to sign a certification stating that the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program was legal. According to people familiar with statements recently made by Gonzales to federal investigators, Gonzales is now saying that George Bush personally directed him to make that hospital visit.

The hospital visit is already central to many contemporaneous historical accounts of the Bush presidency. At the time of the visit, Ashcroft had been in intensive care for six days, was heavily medicated, and was recovering from emergency surgery to remove his gall bladder.

Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey has said that he believes that Gonzales and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who accompanied Gonzales to Ashcroft’s hospital room, were trying to take advantage of Ashcroft’s grievously ill state—pressing him to sign the certification possibly without even comprehending what he was doing—and in the process authorize a government surveillance program which both Ashcroft and the Justice Department had concluded was of questionable legality.

To read the whole story click here.

Barefoot Bandit Set to Plea

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The infamous “Barefoot Bandit who gained international fame by stealing boats, cars and planes, and committing some crime while barefoot — and at least on one occasion naked —  is expected to plead guilty on Friday in Seattle federal court, the Associated Press reported.

Colton Harris-Moore, 20, guilty plea will address questions whether he can participate in book or movie deals, with proceeds used to repay victims, his lawyer Emma Scanlan said, according to AP. She said restitution could total about $1.3 million.

After committing crimes across the U.S., he stole a plane and went to the Bahamas, where he was captured last July.

Federal prosecutors had filed court papers saying the government should get all proceeds made from books or movies.

“The property forfeited includes … any and all intellectual property or other proprietary rights belonging to the defendant, based upon or pertaining to any narration, description, publication, dissemination or disclosure of information relating to” government said.

Authorities claim he stole at least five planes and assaulted law enforcement officers.

Jury Asks Judge About Jury Instructions Involving Charges that Blago Sold Senate Seat

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

UPDATE: Friday; 11:15 a.m. — The jury finished Thursday and went home for the weekend. Deliberations resume Monday.

Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The jury in the retrial of ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich is still working way.

On Thursday, on the fifth day of deliberations, the jury asked U.S. District Judge James Zagel to clarify legal language in jury instructions on 10 wire fraud counts, eight of which deal with allegations that Blagojevich tried to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Obama, USA Today reported.

USA Today reported that it was only the second note passed to the judge from the jury of 11 women and one man since deliberations began last Friday.

Senate Judiciary Approves Legislation to Extend FBI Dir. Mueller’s Term

Robert Mueller/file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Senate Judiciary on Thursday approved legislation that would extend FBI Director Robert S. Mueller’s term for two years.

The vote 11-7, paves the way for Congress to approve the extension, something that seems certain to happen. The legislation must be approved by the House and the Senate.

Mueller was appointed by President Bush in 2001 and was supposed to complete his 10-year term this September.

But the White House decided it wanted him to stick around another two years, a move that requires legislation. The current law limits the director to 10 years.

Some members of the committee had raised concerns about constitutional challenges the extension might create.

But Sen. Patrick Leahy of the committee issued a statement Thursday saying:

“The fact that this extension was requested by the President and will take effect only because the President has decided to ask Director Mueller to stay on removes any implication that this legislation somehow offends the Appointments Clause of the Constitution. It does not.”

“There is no effort here by Congress to usurp the President’s appointing authority. What we propose is constitutional and consistent with the powers previously exercised by Congress. We are extending a term of a presidential appointment.”

ICE Agent Busted on Charges of Leaking Sensitive Info to Drug Traffickers South of the Border

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Fed authorities in Arizona have busted a special agent with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on charges that she illegally accessed, stole and transferred sensitive U.S. government documents to family members and associates with strong ties to drug trafficking organizations south of the border, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Jovana Samaniego Deas, 33, of Rio Rico, Ariz. was charged with computer fraud, theft of government records and making false statements/entries, authorities said. She made her initial court appearance Tuesday in Tucson federal court.

The indictment, which capped a two year investigation, was filed in Tucson federal court.

Authorities said Deas is accused of abusing her position as an HSI special agent to illegally obtain and disseminate government documents classified as “Official Use Only.”

“When it comes to our national security, blood is not thicker than water,” U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke said in a statement. “This defendant used and abused her position as a special agent to illegally help family members south of the border with ties to drug trafficking organizations. That is a violation of the public’s trust and a breach of our security that, thanks to this very thorough joint investigation, will have serious consequences.”

Deas became a U.S. government employee in June 2003 as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at a Nogales, Ariz., port of entry. In 2008, she became a special agent at the HSI Nogales office.

The two-year investigation of Deas was conducted by FBI and ICE Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) agents at the FBI’s Southern Arizona Corruption Task Force (SACTF).

SACTF agents were assisted y agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, HSI, the U.S. State Department’s Consular Integrity Division and the Brazilian Federal Police.

Column: What Does the Blago Verdict Mean for Chicago U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald?

Patrick Fitzgerald/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Soon we’ll get the verdict in the Blago II trial and we’ll start to evaluate what it means for Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. The jury begins the fifth day of deliberations on Thursday.

The first trial did not bode so well for Fitzgerald, the rock star among U.S. Attorneys. The jury convicted ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich on only 1 of 24 counts — and that was for lying to the FBI. It wasn’t even a count central to the key charges of shaking down folks and trying to sell President Obama’s Senate seat.

Some argued it was still a victory — particularly those who know Fitzgerald well. They said a felony conviction is a felony conviction, even if it’s on just one count.

I disagree. I say in order for this to be considered a victory for Fitzgerald and his prosecutors, they have to get a conviction on a central count. A conviction on key counts would provide some vindication for Fitzgerald.

What would another embarrassing outcome mean for Fitzgerald?

Probably not a whole lot.

Another embarrassing outcome might tarnish his star power a little. But people forget. And he’s had a lot of big victories in big cases in Chicago. And no one can forget that he came to Washington for a stint as  a dragon slayer — as a special prosecutor —  and convicted Scooter Libby in 2007.

The first Blago trial may have hurt his chances when the White House was recently  considering a replacement for FBI Dir. Robert S. Mueller III (though that has become a moot point since President Obama now wants to keep Mueller on for two more years beyond the 10-year term).

Interestingly, FBI agents who, in general, prefer an ex-agent as a director rather than a prosecutor — seemed Ok with Fitzgerald as a potential replacement.

Nonetheless, the talk inside the Beltway was that the White House wasn’t wild about  the swagger — very Eliot Ness like — that he displayed before the media  when he first announced the charges against Blago in December 2008.

The swagger along with the embarrassing outcome didn’t help. This White House seems to like Robert Mueller’s low-key, fly-under-the-radar style.

So in the end, whatever the outcome in Blago II, Fitzgerald will remain the U.S. Attorney in Chicago.

And frankly, whatever the outcome,  the Blago case won’t short circuit many of his options in the future –including, who knows, even  a run for governor, the office once held by Blago himself.

Chicago Station Features DEA Drug Training