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U.S. Atty. Fitzgerald Called Rahm Emanuel in 2008 the Day Gov. Blago Was Arrested

Rahm Emanuel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s nice to get a courtesy call from time to time.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that’s just what Rahm Emanuel got from Chicago’s U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald the morning that Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested in Dec. 9, 2008. Emanuel had been selected as President-elect Obama’s chief of staff.

Sun-Times reporter Natasha Korecki reported that Fitzgerald wanted Emanuel to know his name was expected to show up in a criminal complaint filed against the governor.

Patrick Fitzgerald/doj photo

“Members of the U.S. attorney’s office called a series of people to let them know an arrest had been made,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar told the Sun-Times.

Emanuel was never accused of wrongdoing.

NYT Report Questions FBI’s Role in Pirate Case That Resulted in Murder

By Allan Lengel
ticklethwire.com

WASHINGTON — A New York Times story is questioning the actions of the FBI in connection with the four-day standoff with pirates off the Somalia coast that ended with all four crew members aboard a 58-foot yacht being murdered.

The Times reported that an F.B.I. hostage-rescue negotiator aboard the U.S.S. Sterett Naval ship was skeptical that two pirates who came aboard were serious about negotiating.

The Times reported the Americans subsequently held the two and sent word back to the yacht to send over someone serious about talking. The Times said what happened after is in dispute.

The paper reported that a fight broke out among the leaderless pirates, who may have feared being attacked by the Navy warships. The paper also wrote that “one person who has talked to associates of the pirates said their leader had told them that if he did not return, they should kill the hostages, though American officials say they do not know that to be the case.”

To read more click here.

Fed Case Clearly Connects the Dots Between Baltimore and Mexico’s Cartels

Photo illustration by Frank Hamilton including photo by Frank Klein- Courtesy of Baltimore City Paper

By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper

BALTIMORE — Ronald Eugene Brown was a natural target for Baltimore narcotics investigators. The 6-foot-6-inch, 240-pound man, nicknamed “Truck,” had already served many years in prison for 1990s drug-dealing and robbery convictions, and his rehabilitation after getting out was, well, dubious.

The 44-year-old had lost his low-paying job as a forklift operator, yet he somehow could afford to have two Baltimore County residences (in Overlea and Ten Hills), a BMW, a Mercedes, and a Dodge Ram pickup truck. His comfortable, middle-class lifestyle defied explanation—but for the fact that he was a habitué of the drug-infested Monument Street corridor near Baltimore City’s Northeast Market.

When the probe into Brown began, it was standard Baltimore cop fare: A confidential source arranged to buy a small amount of drugs from Brown on the evening of April 27, 2009, and the cops followed Brown to see where he would lead them.

Before the sun rose the next morning, they had about $750,000 in heat-sealed, aluminum-wrapped cash at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel and two men suspected of being Brown’s suppliers. The case’s significance snowballed, and by February 2010, it had unearthed mammoth shipments of Mexican cartel cocaine and marijuana coming to Baltimore from Texas every two weeks.

To read full story click here.

Prosecutors in Blago Case Drop 3 Counts in Hopes of Simplifying Retrial

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

After presenting what may have been too complex of a case for the jury to digest the first time around, prosecutors in Rod Blagojevich’s corruption case moved Wednesday to drop three counts for the upcoming retrial, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The number of counts will now drop from 23 to 20. Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor, was convicted of only 1 of 24 counts in the first trial — for lying to an FBI agent. The jury deadlocked on the remaining counts.

The Sun-Times reported that lawyers in the case said just dropping two racketeering counts should eliminate at least 30 pages of jury instructions.

One of the allegations is that Blagojevich tried selling President Obama’s Senate seat.

The paper reported that Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar said in court the reduction in counts will help “streamline the length of the indictment” and the jury instructions.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Busts 17 Baltimore Cops in Towing-Car Repair Scheme


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI on Wednesday busted 17 Baltimore cops in an extortion scheme involving  two brothers who own a car repair, the Baltimore Sun reported.

The Sun reported that the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint alleging that the brothers paid the cops to arrange for their company to tow cars at accident scenes, rather than city-authorized companies. The brothers also did the repairs on the cars.

An FBI affidavit alleged that the scheme had been going on since 2009.

The charges triggered some reader comments on the Baltimore Sun website including this one:

“Boy I’m so glad I retired in May, I’m so ashamed to have even been a part of the organization, when I see all the negative stuff going on there. I can’t help but feel that due to the consistently high attrition rate the place will always be sub standard. With the economy and all I understand money is a non issue but the working conditions have always been deplorable. I honestly feel so sorry for the citizens, they deserve so much better, COME ON LADIES AND GENTLEMAN OF THE AGENCY, HAVE SOME PRIDE!”

Read the Criminal Complaint

Mexican Authorities Nab 1 Suspect in Slaying of ICE Agent; Authorities Have Indentified Others

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Mexican authorities say they have nabbed a suspect in the slaying of ICE agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico last week, the Associated Press reported. Another agent was wounded after being shot twice in the leg.

The Mexican Defense Department issued a brief statement Wednesday but provided no details, AP reported. The two men were ambushed while driving back to Mexico City.

AP, citing a U.S. law enforcement official familiar with the investigation, reported that authorities have identified a “handful” of people in connection with the shooting in northern Mexico. Zapata and the wounded agent Victor Avila were assigned to the ICE attache in Mexico City.

The suspects appear to have ties to the drug cartels, AP reported.

Ex-U.S. Atty and Current Gov. Chris Christie Tries to End Speculation About Presidential Bid: There’s “Zero Chance”

Christopher Christie/campaign photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-New Jersey U.S. Attorney and current Governor Chris Christie tried Wednesday to put an end to speculation that he might make a bid for president as a Republican in 2012.

Appearing on NBC’s Today show, Christie, 48, told Ann Curry:

“There is no chance , zero chance, under any circumstances. Close the door, nail it shut…The fact is I’m not running.”

Curry then asked the beefy governor about his weight loss, which has fueled speculation about a presidential bid.

“You’re also losing weight, how much?” asked an insistent Curry.

“We don’t give numbers out Ann, we set ourselves up for failure,” he said, as Curry kept pressing him. “Look at you , you don’t have to worry about it.”

I feel better,” he added about his weight loss. “What’s most important is I started to do this because I have four children between 7 and 17 and I want to be here for them for the long haul. They’re not worried about the numbers and neither am I. It’s that I’m feeling better, we’re moving in the right direction. Just like New Jersey. We’re not better yet, but were moving in the right direction.”

He was elected governor in November 2009 and served as U.S. Attorney from 2002 to 2008.

19 Firearms Found Last Week at U.S. Airport Checkpoints

gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — As part of an occasional snapshot of what’s going on at our nation’s airports, ticklethewire.com periodically publishes stats on activity at checkpoints.

For the week of Feb. 14-20, the Transportation Security Administration reported that 19 firearms were found at checkpoints along with two “artfully concealed prohibited items.”

Additionally, six passengers were arrested following an investigation for suspicious behavior or for possession of fraudulent travel documents, the TSA reported.