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Fed Prosecutors Say Sentence for ex-ICE Official Could Set Record

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors are hoping on Monday to land the toughest sentence in the history of federal corruption cases when former ICE official Constantine Peter Kallas appears in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The former Assistant Chief Counsel at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was found guilty of three dozen corruption offenses nearly one year ago for  taking a series of bribes from immigrants seeking documentation to remain in the U.S..

In a press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said: Federal prosecutors recommended a sentence of 353 months – nearly 30 years. If the judge adopts this recommendation, we believe this would be the longest sentenced ever issued in a federal corruption case. (However, in the interest of full disclosure, the judge at a prior hearing indicated he was considering a sentence of approximately 20 years, which would still make it one of the longest public corruption sentences ever issued.)”

Authorities said Kallen has been in federal prison since August 2008, about two months after he was busted in an FBI sting and videotaped at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in Highland, Calif. “where he and his wife accepted a bribe from an immigrant”, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

He accepted a series of bribes, some as high as $20,000, authorities said.

Authorities said court documents show that besides Kallas’ salary, the couple had deposited $950,000 in their bank accounts since 2000.

Ooops! Buffalo U.S. Atty. Apologizes After ICE Agents Raid Wrong Home at Gunpoint


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

“Ooops” and “sorry” are the two things that come to mind in this case.

U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. of Buffalo and Lev J. Kubiak, head of the Homeland Security Investigations in that city, apologized to a businessman whose home was mistakenly raided earlier this month by ICE agents, the Buffalo News reported.

The paper reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents , with guns drawn, broke down the back door of a local businessman’s home around 7 a.m. while he and his wife were sleeping.

Agents had a search warrant for a child pornography case, and seized his computer equipment, the Buffalo News reported.

Turns out,a few days later authorities arrested a 25-year-old man who allegedly used the businessman’s unprotected Wifi to download child porn, the paper reported.

U.S. Atty. William Hochul Jr./doj photo

The paper reported that Barry N. Covert, an attorney for the businessman, said the U.S. Attorney “expressed genuine remorse and regret for what had transpired.” Hochul also offered to apologize to the businessman in person, and added that his client had no intention of suing.

Covert added that Hochul also offered to meet with his client and apologize personally.

To read more click here.

New Orleans Man Arrested for Sending Threatening Emails to FBI Agent That Referenced Agent’s Son


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

We all get annoying emails – but these were apparently way over the top.

Authorities earlier this week arrested a New Orleans man for sending threatening emails to an FBI agent that referenced the agent’s son, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The paper reported that David Christenson Jr. , 53, was accused of sending the emails to FBI agent Steve Rayes on two occasions within a week

The emails came after Christenson ran into Rayes and his son in the Warehouse District in New Orleans on March 4, the paper reported, citing a police report. Rayes had interviewed the suspect in February over some inappropriate emails to judges and their employees, the paper reported.

The Times-Picayune reported that Christenson walked up to Rayes during the encounter in the Warehouse District “with a ‘wild, glazed look”on his face and tried to ask Rayes about his son, according to the police report. Rayes excused himself and kept walking with his son, the report said.”

The next day, Christenson allegedly sent  Rayes an email, according to l that said: “You have no idea how strange it was to run into you and your son last night … Your son is now connected to this bizarre story. Being connected to me is not usually a good thing. I am sorry. You and your son will be in my prayers.”

On March 11,  he sent another letter that allegedly said:  “You got your son involved. Why? … A lot of people who are connected (to) me are dying … YOU SHOULD ALL BE VERY CAREFUL.”

Rep. Issa Blasts ATF in Letter Over Gun Running Operations

Rep. Issa/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The controversy over  ATF programs designed to stop the flow of guns into Mexico isn’t going away. Some guns have been used in serious crimes.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has fired off a letter to Ken Melson, head of ATF, accusing the agency of failing to cooperate with a Congressional inquiry into the matter. Issa has directed ATF to provide documents and information to Congress by month’s end. The letter was posted on the CBS news website.

The letter referenced  two ATF operations — Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious — which allowed gun traffickers to buy guns and subsequently sell them, all with hopes of tracking them to the drug cartels in Mexico. But investigations have found the guns have been used in crimes including in the deaths of Border Patrol Agent  Brian Terry in Arizona in December and ICE Agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico in February

“Recent media reports have raised grave questions about your department’s handling of operations involving gun trafficking in Mexico,” the March 16 letter says.

“In the aftermath of the tragic killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jamie Zapata, it is imperative that you act decisively to assuage the public’s deep suspicions that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has a policy permitting – and even encouraging – the movement of guns into Mexico by straw purchasers.”

“It has been brought to my attention that you are not cooperating with the congressional inquiries into Project Gun Runner and Operation Fast and Furious,” Issa wrote.

The Mexican government is also investigated the matter.

ATF did not immediately respond for comment on Friday morning.

Read the letter

LISTEN TO INTERVIEW WITH REP. ISSA

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrBbt6yxvFE

Ex-Top Adviser to FBI Dir. Nominated as Assist. Atty. Gen. For National Security

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Lisa Monaco, a former top adviser to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, and currently Principal Deputy Attorney General, has been nominated by the White House to fill the job of Assistant Attorney General for National Security, the website Main Justice reported.

She would replace interim Tod Hinnen, who stepped in after David Kris left the department for private practice, Main Justice reported.

Monaco was selected as Principal Attorney General in January. She served as a top adviser to the FBI director from 2007 to 2009, the website reported.

Justice Dept. Gives New Orleans Police Dept. A Flunking Grade

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

As expected, the Justice Department on Thursday unveiled its findings following a review of the New Orleans police department, and it was anything but pretty.

The report by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division found a pattern of “unconstitutional conduct”, poor policies, non-existent training and inadequate leadership.

“Unfortunately, our conclusions reveal that many NOPD officers have failed to live up to what we rightfully expect from our law enforcement officers,” said deputy Attorney General James Cole at a press conference in New Orleans.

“The overwhelming and undeniable facts discovered throughout this investigation show reasonable cause to believe that the New Orleans Police Department has engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct,” Cole said.

“Because of this, it has failed to provide the protection the people of New Orleans should expect from their police department.”

Assistant Attorney Gen. Thomas E. Perez laid out other findings at the press conference, according to a press release. They were as follows:

  • We found that officers regularly used excessive force as retaliation, and that in the last 6 years – there has not been a single finding of an officer involved shooting that violated policy. Supervisors fail to hold officers accountable for excessive force, and there are frequently intentional acts to prevent prosecutions of officers. We found the use of uncontrollable canines, and a lack of training on alternatives to force.
  • We found that officers regularly fail to articulate the facts to justify stops, searches and arrest, and that often, officers don’t know the law regarding proper stops, searches and arrests. We also found that the NOPD’s system encourages a focus on quantity of arrests rather than quality.
  • We found virtually no data collection regarding racial profiling, and a lack of adequate policies and training regarding discriminatory policing. A random sample of 96 Resisting Arrest/Use of Force Reports from January 2009 to May 2010 showed that 84% (81) involved African-American subjects. In that same time period, there were 27 deadly force incidents, involving 27 African American subjects of deadly force.
  • We found regular harassment of LGBT individuals, and the use of the “crimes against nature” statute almost solely against LGBT individuals.
  • We found violations committed through omission, including a systemic failure to provide effective policing services to persons with limited English proficiency; and a systemic failure to investigate sexual assaults and domestic violence.
  • We found that the Department is unable to meaningfully police in Spanish and Vietnamese speaking communities, and unable to communicate meaningfully with potential witnesses. We found delays and denials of service for these communities, and a practice of allowing subjects to interpret for victims of domestic violence.
  • We found a systematic misclassification of potential sexual assaults and seriously deficient investigations of alleged sexual assaults and domestic violence cases. We also found that investigators and first responders lacked proper training to adequately respond to and investigate these cases.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agent Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Get Transfer

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent stationed in Grand Forks, N.D.,  pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Minneapolis to making a false statement after he told a big lie to federal investigators in order to get a transfer to the southern border, the U.S. Attorney Office said.

Authorities charged that Andrew Rodriguez, 30, told authorities he had been pulled over by two men on Minnesota Highway 71, who threatened to hurt his family if he didn’t do as they said.

Authorities say that Rodriguez also told the FBI agents that he had seen the men’s vehicle near his home on a few recent occasions.

He later confessed that he fabricated the story to get a transfer to the southern border.

FBI’s Mueller Rattles Off Some Pretty Grim Statistics About the Battle Against the Mexican Drug Cartels

FBI Dir. Robert Mueller/fbi file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

While telling Congress of the FBI’s efforts to battle the Mexican drug cartels, FBI director Robert S. Mueller III rattled off some pretty grim statistics.

Appearing Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee, Mueller said:

  • Between $18 billion and $39 billion flows annually from the United States across the Southwest border to enrich the Mexican drug cartels.
  • There were over 3,000 drug-related murders in Juarez, Mexico in 2010.
  • There were over 34,600 drug-related murders in all of Mexico from December 2006 to December 2010.
  • It is estimated that 95 percent of all South American cocaine that moves from South America to the United States goes through Mexico.
  • 701,000 kilograms of marijuana were seized during the first five months of 2010 in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas.

Mueller told the committee that the FBI is committing resources to battling the cartels.

“To address corruption on the Southwest border, we have 13 Border Corruption Task Forces with roughly 120 agents in FBI field offices in the region, and one National Border Corruption Task Force at FBI Headquarters to direct these efforts,” he said. “We have border liaison officers who work one-on-one with their law enforcement counterparts in Mexico.”