Site Search

Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

June 2021


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

News Story

Weekend Series on Crime History: FBI Agent Joe Pistone of “Donnie Brasco” Fame

Sen. Grassley Wants to Know If ATF Agents Have Been Advised to Stonewall Congressional Inquiries

Sen. Grassley/official photo

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley on Friday expressed concerns that ATF agents are possibly being encouraged not to fully cooperate with Congressional inquiries into a controversial  ATF gun-walking program.

In a press release issued Friday, Grassley said his concerns surfaced after documents released by AFT through the Freedom of Information Act included an email to ATF Deputy Director Billy Hoover “regarding suggestions on how ATF agents should be directed to respond to congressional requests, like those from Grassley. ”

He did not indicate who wrote the email and the name of person was redacted in a copy he released. It did show the person was part of the “SMO”, which in the Justice Department stands for Senior Management Offices.

In an April 8  letter to Kenneth Melson, head of ATF, Grassley writes of the email:

“It appears to contain proposed guidance to ATF employees about how to respond to contacts from my office. The guidance instructs ATF employees that they “are in no way obligated to respond” to questions from Congress. It also attempts to prevent direct communications with my office by instructing that ATF employees “should refer congressional staff who seek information from you to the ATF’s office of congressional affairs.”

“The guidance further attempts to prevent direct communications with my office by claiming that ATF employees “are not authorized to disclose non-public information.”

“It is unclear from the email released through FOIA whether this guidance was actually communicated to ATF employees. However, it is of grave concern because, as you know, such attempts to prevent direct communications with Congress are not a lawfully authorized activity of any officer or employee of the United States whose salary is paid with appropriated funds.”

Grassley said in the press release:  “Since our investigation began, I’ve continued to be contacted by agents and others within the ATF about wrongdoing regarding Fast and Furious at the ATF and the Justice Department. If people have concerns they should be able to express themselves without feeling pressure from their bosses.”

Operation and Fast and Furious encouraged straw purchasers to buy weapons, all with the hopes of tracing them to the higher levels of the Mexican cartels.

But critics complained ATF lost track of some guns, and some were used in serious crimes.

ATF did not immediately respond for comment.

Read letter to Ken Melson

Detroit Fed Judge Sets August Plea Deadline for Underwear Bomber

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marshals photo

By Allan Lengel

The man dubbed the Underwear Bomber has until Aug. 19 to hammer out a plea deal, the Associated reported. Trial is set for October.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried blowing up an Amsterdam to Detroit bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas day in 2009, appeared in U.S. District Court on Thursday in downtown Detroit.

Prosecutors had asked for the plea deadline for Abdulmutallab, who is representing himself, AP reported.

Knowledgeable sources have privately said that Abdumutallab, should he choose to knock out a plea, won’t have much bargaining power since he was caught in the act in front of a number of witnesses.

They say he might be able to negotiate for certain conditions in prison, but isn’t likely to get much more.

Justice Dept. Threatens to Withhold Funds From Police Depts. That Don’t Require Body Armor

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — No body armor, no cash.

That’s what the Justice Department is saying.

USA Today reports that the Justice Department is threatening to withhold millions of federal dollars from  local police departments that don’t require uniformed officers to wear body armor.

The threats come in wake of a spike in fatal shootings of cops. Body armor is not required at 41 percent of the nation’s police departments, USA Today reports.

“What struck us is the number of agencies that don’t have a mandatory policy … a potential huge vulnerability,” Jim Burch, acting director of the department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, told USA Today. “If we’re investing federal dollars, we should require agencies to have policies.”

FBI’s Tape Recorder Went Dead During Portland Terrorism Probe

Mohamed Mohamud

By Allan Lengel

Despite all the advances, human error can still trump  modern technology.

The Portland Oregonian reports that the FBI’s efforts last July to record Mohamed Mohamud  first talking about taking part in a terrorist bombing plot in Portland failed because the tape recorder went dead.

“Put simply,” the government wrote in court paper filed Thursday, “it was human error: the device was accidentally turned on hours before the meeting time and therefore ran out of battery power as the meeting began.”

Mohamud’s lawyers have claimed their client was entrapped into participating in a plot to kill and maim thousands at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland on Nov. 26.

The paper reports that the first utterances in the case could be very significant.

The paper reported that legal scholars say “the FBI’s botched recording will make for interesting arguments in court because first utterances of criminal intentions are pivotal in entrapment cases.”

Feds Bust Dirty Chicago Cops Who Were Part of Elite Unit That Stole Hundreds of Thousands From Dope Dealers

By Allan Lengel

The feds on Thursday came down on one current and three former Chicago cops — all members of a now disbanded elite-city wide unit —  implicating them in an out-of-control flurry of activity that involved false arrests, false charges and the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug dealers.

One of the former cops, Jerome A. Finnigan, the ring leader,  was already facing a federal murder-for-hire charge in connection with his alleged attempt to bump off a fellow cop who he feared would testify against him in state court, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The cops, who all plan to plead guilty, were part of the elite Special Operations Section that was disbanded in 2007, authorities said.

Specifically, Finnigan and then officer Keith A. Herrera were charged with “routinely and regularly” making unlawful arrests and searches, and when the opportunity arose, stealing lots of money. In one instance, on Sept. 18, 2004, authorities alleged that Finnigan and other officers made an unlawful traffic stop, took the person’s house key and seized $450,000 in cash. The money was divided among the officers.

On May 17, 2005, Finnigan, Herrera and other cops made another unlawful traffic stop and searched the motorist’s home and seized $30,000 in cash.  The officers then “inventoried only $463” and falsely accused the motorist of discarding narcotics when they approached. The officers split up $29,500, authorities said.

Several months later, Finnigan, Herrera and other cops made an unlawful traffic stop of that same person and cited him for an offense he didn’t commit “to intimidate” him so he wouldn’t  complain about the stolen money, authorities said. In all, the feds say Finnigan netted about $200,000 and Herrera got about $40,000 in 2004 and 2005.

In late 2006, state charges were brought against Finnigan and other members of the elite police unit for the unlawful arrests and seizures of cash. Then in 2007, Finnigan discussed with Herrera,  who was cooperating with authorities, paying someone to kill another cop who he believed would become a witness in the state criminal cases.  Finnigan was arrested on Sept. 26, 2007

Ex-cops Stephen DelBosque, 35, and current officer Eric J. Olsen, 37, were charged with misdemeanor civil rights violations. DelBosque allegedly testified falsely before a state grand jury in 2005 that a man dropped a bag of two bricks of cocaine when he was approached by officers, when in fact he had no drugs. The cops searched the man’s home and found 101 kilos of cocaine in his garage.

Olson also lied about a search of a man at a tavern, authorities said. Seven other officers have already pleaded guilty to state charges for their roles in the rogue activity.

Somali Pirate Will Remain Anchored For a Long Time: Gets 25 Years

By Allan Lengel

The modern day pirates continue to baffle the world in their ability to commandeer large ships and get away with it. Still, not all have gone free.

On Thursday, Jama Idle Ibrahim, a/k/a Jaamac Ciidle, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Washington to 25 years in prison for his role in the takeover of a merchant vessel, the M/V CEC Future, in the Gulf of Aden for 71 days from November 2008 to January 16, 2009.

Ibrahim, 39, of Somalia, pled guilty on September 8, 2010 to conspiracy to commit piracy under the law of nations and conspiracy to use a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Authorities said the act of piracy against against the vessel began on Nov. 7, 2008 when Ibrahim and other Somalis pirates, armed with AK 47s, a rocket-propelled grenade, and handguns, attacked and seized the vessel.

The pirates held the vessel, cargo, and 13 crew members for ransom and forced the crew to anchor in waters off the Somalia coast.

In time, additional pirates boarded the vessel. The pirates threatened the crew, stole money, food and supplies and gave up the ship after they got a $1.7 million ransom.

“Modern-day pirates are nothing like the swashbuckling heroes in Hollywood movies,” said D.C.  U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. “Today’s pirates are ruthless criminals who hold ships and their crews hostage with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. Twenty-five years in prison is a just punishment for this attack that threatened international commerce and human life.”

5 People Indicted in Fire Bombing of Arkansas’ Mixed Race Couple’s Home

By Allan Lengel

Hate never seems to go out of style.

A federal grand jury in Arkansas  indicted five state residents for their alleged role in the Molotov cocktail  fire bombing of a mixed-race couple’s trailer  near Hardy, Ark. in January, authorities announced Thursday. No one was injured.

Those indicted on civil rights and other charges included: Jason Barnwell, 37, of Evening Shade, Ark.; Gary Dodson, 32, of Waldron, Ark.; Jake Murphy, 19, also of Waldron; and Dustin Hammond, 20, of Hardy, Ark.  Wendy Treybig, 31, of Evening Shade, Ark., was indicted for obstruction of justice for her role in trying to cover up the incident.

Authorities said the couple was also barraged with racial slurs and threatened with future violence if failed to leave the state.