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Fed Jury Convicts 5 Current and Former New Orleans Cops in Danziger Bridge Shootings

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal jury on Friday convicted five current and former New Orleans cops in the case involving the cover-up and shooting of six unarmed civilians on Danziger Bridge days after Katrina devastated the area, WWL TV reported. Two of the people died.

The station reported that defendants Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso were found guilty of the shooting of civilians and participation in the cover-up. Sgt. Arthur Kaufman was found guilty of the cover-up.

The case had been a serious blemish on a police department that had already been suffering from a less than ideal reputation.

To read the full story click here.

To read the charges click here.

Ex-ATF Agent Testifies in Tulsa About His Corrupt Ways

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former ATF agent, who is awaiting sentencing on corruption charges, testified Thursday in a federal corruption trial that he stole drugs and money from crime scenes with several Tulsa police officers, the Tulsa World reported.

Brandon McFadden, 34, testified as a government witness about his criminal activity along with Officers Jeff Henderson, Officers Frank Khalil and Sean Larkin, the Tulsa World reported. He also testified that Henderson made up information to obtain search warrants.

McFadden was arrested in April 2010 and started working with federal investigators, he testified, the paper reported. He pleaded guilty to drug distribution and is awaiting sentencing.

“I knew what I had done and been involved with, with the Tulsa Police Department, and knew the investigation was bigger than Brandon McFadden,” he testified, according to the paper.

“The indictment saved my life. I could sit back and tell my story and be openly blunt about it and tell the citizens of Tulsa. I’ve made mistakes in Tulsa, and I take full responsibility.”

To read more click here.

Buffalo Judge Questions Conduct of FBI Agent and Fed Prosecutor in Biker Case

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal magistrate judge in Buffalo this week expressed concern about the conduct of a federal prosecutor and FBI agent, saying the two may have crossed the line while seeking racketeering charges against members and associates of the Chosen Few motorcycle club, the Buffalo News reported.

The paper reported that U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy stopped short in a decision released Wednesday of accusing the prosecutor and FBI agent of “deliberately and intentionally” taking part in false testimony to a grand jury.

But he said in his decision “the evidence submitted to me thus far is troubling, to say the least.”

The paper reported that allegations center around a key government witness.

The paper reported defense lawyers suggested that FBI agent Kenneth Jensen Jr. and assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Bruce tried to mislead the grand jury during testimony by Jensen by suggesting that the key government witness was not involved in an attack on a rival biker. The defense raised issue with not only the FBI agent’s testimony but the form of  the  questioning by the prosecutor.

“I suspect that . . . Bruce was motivated more by zeal for the government’s position than by malice toward defendants,” the judge said. “However, there are some lines which not even the most zealous prosecutor may cross.”

Spam King Busted for Sending 27 Million Spam Email to Facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

America knows one thing: Don’t mess with the sacred Facebook.

Sanford Wallace, the self-described spam king, surrendered Friday to the FBI after being indicted in San Jose on allegations that he broke into Facebook and sent 27 million spam emails, CBS reported.

Authorities allege that Wallace compromised approximately 500,000 Facebook accounts during three separate attacks on the social-networking giant between November 2008 and March 2009, CBS reported.

For Wallace, it was not his first problem with Facebook. He also was involved in other questionable mass marketing methods over the years.

In the late 1990s, his company, Cyber Promotions, was widely blacklisted as a source of unsolicited email. Prior to that, he gained a reputation for junk fax marketing.

To read full story click here.

Fast and Furious Official No Longer Going to Mexico as Attache; Mexican Govt. Asks for Transcripts of His Testimony

William Newell

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

William Newell, who headed ATF’s Phoenix Division during the controversial operation dubbed Fast and Furious, won’t be going to Mexico as ATF’s attache after all.

The agency has decided to to nix that assignment before he even heads south. Instead, he’s been named special assistant to the ATF Assistant Director for the Office of Management in Washington.

The reassignment comes at a time the Mexican Justice Department known as the PGR is reportedly conducting a criminal probe into the Fast and Furious Operation.  It has also requested transcripts of Newell’s recent testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Concern had surfaced recently within ATF that the Mexican government might arrest Newell if he came down there as the attache.

Lydia Antonio, a press officer for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, declined to comment for this story. An ATF official familiar with the matter confirmed the reassignment, but declined to speculate on why Newell’s Mexico City assignment was changed.

The move to keep Newell in Washington is direct turn about for the agency, which up until recently, had insisted that Newell was  still going to Mexico City as the ATF attache even as the  Mexican government fumed over Fast and Furious, which encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers or middlemen, with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. Some of the guns have surfaced at crime scenes.

ATF first announced internally last Fall that Newell, who is fluent in Spanish, would become the new attache in Mexico City. But after the controversy broke over Fast and Furious, ATF delayed his departure to Mexico and sent him on a detour to Washington to help Congressional investigators and the Inspector General investigate the faulty Fast and Furious operation.

Agents around the country, according to one person, were angry over Newell’s testimony at a Congressional hearing last month when he denied that ATF let guns walk.  During his testimony, he admitted there had been some mistakes, but essentially defended the operation.

In a phone interview Thursday with ticklethewire.com, Newell’s attorney Paul Pelletier of Washington, a former federal prosecutor,  commented on  Newell’s  job change by saying:  “Going to Mexico, given the way his public service has been unfairly portrayed, would not be prudent.”

But Pelletier said Newell has been extremely dedicated to fighting gun trafficking to Mexico.

“Bill’s career with the ATF has been mostly on the Southwest border and he’s made his career literally preventing guns from going to Mexico” he said. “That’s what his career has been based on. He’s done a lot. He’s been a strong advocate of stopping the flow of guns into Mexico.”

He said  Newell volunteered to take his family to Mexico City to take on a dangerous assignment so he could continue addressing the problem.

“The public theater has not been fair to him and has not been fair to ATF.”

Pelletier also noted that Newell was instrumental in getting a member of the Mexican Justice Department stationed in the Phoenix Division.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Robert Mueller Chalks Up 2 New Records as Director

Atty. Gen. Holder (left) and FBI Director Mueller /fbi file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Robert S. Mueller III takes on two new records as the FBI director.

For one, he’s the first director to serve a full 10-year term since J. Edgar Hoover died in 1972. And Wednesday, he became the first to get a two-year extension.

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. swore Mueller in Wednesday to take on the two-year extension beyond his 10-year term. President Obama last week signed legislation allowing the extension.

The President then forwarded the nomination to the Senate, which confirmed Mueller for two more years.

In 1976, Congress enacted a law limiting the FBI Director to a 10-year term to prevent directors from accumulating too much power, as Hoover was perceived to have had.

Mueller’s term was to end in September.

VP Biden Breaks New Ground: First Protectee to Collect Rent from Secret Service

govt photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

If Vice President Joe Biden was looking to break new ground as the VP, by gosh, he’s done it.

The Delaware News Journal reports that he is the first U.S. Secret Service protectee to receive rental income as a landlord for the agents who protect him.

Biden rents out a cottage at his suburban Wilmington home in Delaware to the Secret Service for $2,200 a month. So far, he’s gotten more than $13,000 and he’s eligible to get a total of $66,000 under a contract that expires in 2013.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told the paper:

“We’ve not rented from protectees before.”

ATF Dir. Ken Melson Getting Out and Talking to the Troops

Ken Melson/atf photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ken Melson, the acting director of ATF, who seemed like a goner last month, is now acting as if he might be around for a while.

In fact, Melson is making an effort to show more leadership by communicating more with the troops. Last week, he conducted a town hall meeting at headquarters to discuss the state of ATF with employees, according to several law enforcement people familiar with the situation.

And since then, he’s been conducting meetings with groups of special agents in charge, who head up ATF offices around the country.

One person familiar with the meetings said the townhall meeting at headquarters dealt primarily with ATF’s budget and other agency matters.  But at least one person asked Melson about Operation Fast and Furious, the controversial operation that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell weapons to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.

ATF lost track of a lot of those weapons, some of which surfaced at crime scenes. That triggered a major controversy for ATF, perhaps the biggest since Waco.

In meeting with SACs in recent days, Melson has tried to assure the officials that Fast and Furious was a Phoenix Division issue and was not a systemic problem within ATF,  according to one person.

However, the ATF officials in the field told Melson that the Fast and Furious issue went far beyond the Phoenix Division — at least when it came to harming morale inside the agency.

Many SACs were also angry about the recent Congressional testimony of William Newell, who headed the Phoenix office during the Fast and Furious Operation. They felt his testimony was less than forthright.

Melson indicated that no punitive action would be taken against  anyone at ATF until the Office of Inspector General issues a report on the matter.

Rumors had circulated that Melson, who complained about being the Justice Department scapegoat in the Fast and Furious mess, might be replaced in early July by Andrew Traver, head of the Chicago ATF, who has been nominated by the White House to become the permanent director.

But that never happened, possibly because it would have looked bad if  Melson was replaced just as he was starting to speak up about the mess to Congressional investigators.

Melson had complained to Congressional investigators that he was being muzzled by the Justice Department and kept from communicating to the troops about the Fast and Furious controversy.

According to his testimony provided to investigators and released by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Melson said:

“Part of the problem, and one of the things that infuriated me was that I have not been allowed to communicate to the troops about anything. So, for example, earlier on, I wanted to do a broadcast that just talked about the case because everybody was wondering what’s this case about? What are you doing at headquarters?

“How come you were not issuing press releases and how come you were not ordering press conference ad pushing back and things like that? And I was told not do do that. Then after we wanted to do several things to talk to our people about what this case was about, what it wasn’t about, and you know, where were were going and the fact that we were cooperating as much as we could with the committee and with the Department, but we were restrained from doing that.”