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September 2022


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News Story

More Charges Come Raining Down on Ex-D.C. Suburban County Exec Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson/wusa

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Jack Johnson, who in his final weeks as a county executive in suburban Washington got busted on a wiretap advising his wife to hide evidence as FBI agents knocked on the door, was indicted Monday on charges of conspiracy, extortion, tampering with a witness and evidence and taking more than $200,000 in bribes.

The indictment against former Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson, 61, highlighted the rampant corruption in one of the most affluent  African-American majority counties in the nation. Johnson, a former state’s attorney in Prince George’s County, and his wife, a newly elected county council member,  were originally arrested in November on a criminal complaint for evidence tampering.

“Pay-to-play government is not democratic government,” Baltimore U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement. “Anyone who seeks benefits or approvals from the government should be evaluated on the merits, without being extorted for payments or losing out to competitors who pay bribes. Government employees flagrantly abuse the public trust when they take money in return for official acts.”

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Opera Pokes Fun at Ex-Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales

Ex-Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Washington can be a way too serious place. Then occasionally someone comes along and figures out how to turn all the manure into entertainment.

Over the past two weekends people have flocked to the Baltimore Theater Project to see “The Gonzales Cantata”, an opera by composer Melissa Dunphy who set music to the transcripts from the 2007 congressional hearings on the dismissal of seven U.S. attorneys that involved then-Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales, according to the Washington Post. The opera first debuted in 2009.

“Clever, certainly, was her idea of turning to a Handelian style, using 18th-century musical conventions to send up the 18th-century conventions and forms of American political protocol (though her tick of pausing the music on pregnant dissonances, like an audible nudge to the ribs, got a bit old),” wrote Anne Midgette in the Washington Post.

The show proved to be such a hit, the theater website posted this: “Due to popular demand, we’ve added another performance on Saturday, February 12 at 8 pm.”

Read Washington Post Review


Congressman Opposes Plan to Name Museum Research Center After J. Edgar Hoover

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II/gov photo

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — The FBI’s legendary director J. Edgar Hoover continues to stir up controversy.

The latest: the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.) is voicing opposition to a plan to name the research center at the yet to be built National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington after Hoover, USA Today reported.

“It is not healthy for the nation if his legacy does not include an asterisk for his (archaic) views on race,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo. said, according to USA Today. “I’m wondering what Dr. King would say to us.”

Cleaver expressed particular concern about the FBI’s campaign to discredit Martin Luther King Jr.

USA Today reported that Cleaver is even bothered by the fact the FBI headquarters building on Pennsylvania Avenue is named after Hoover. He calls it  a “sore point for a lot of people.”

USA Today reported that the National Law Enforcement Museum, authorized by Congress, is set to open in 2013.

J. Edgar Hoover/fbi photo

The paper reported that foundation Director William Branon, a former FBI agent, defended the naming of the center, saying it was “in keeping with the goals of the foundation: to perpetuate the good name of Mr. Hoover. … No editorializing.”

“I can’t think of a more fitting place to carry his name,” Branon said.

Hoover’s name has resurfaced in the media lately in relation to a movie being made by Clint Eastwood on Hoover’s life. The movie is reportedly going to show Hoover having a long-standing romantic relationship with his right hand man, Clyde Tolson. Some former and current FBI agents have expressed dismay over that aspect of the movie.

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Court of Appeals Takes FBI Off the Hook in Murders Involving Mobster Whitey Bulger

Whitey Bulger

By Allan Lengel

The U.S. Court of Appeals has taken the FBI off the hook — at least for now in a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

The Boston Globe reported that U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston last week overturned an $8.5 million court award two years ago to the families of two men who were murdered by FBI informant James “Whitey’’ Bulger, a notorious Boston mobster who has been on the lam for years and is on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.  A judge two years ago concluded that the FBI was to blame for the murders for failing to properly handle its informant.

The Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled in favor of the Justice Department, which represented the FBI, saying the statute of limitations elapsed, and therefore, the families had waited too long to file the lawsuits after the murders of Michael Donahue and Edward “Brian’’ Halloran.

“The murders robbed both the Donahue and Halloran families of loved ones, and their losses were exacerbated by years of government evasion,’’ the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit wrote in a 55-page decision granting the government’s motion to dismiss the suits, the Globe reported. “But statutes of limitation are designed to operate mechanically. They aspire to bring a sense of finality to events that occurred in the distant past and to afford defendants the comfort of knowing that stale claims cannot be pursued.’’

Lawyers said they planned to appeal, according to the Globe.

Donahue’s widow, Patricia,  told the Globe she was shocked and disappointed by the ruling.

“We won in court and then the government who is responsible for my husband’s death wins the case,’’  Donahue  told the Globe.  “I am just so disappointed in the system. . . . We were treated like criminals, and we were the victims.’’

The Globe reported that “Michael Donahue, 32, a Dorchester truck driver and innocent bystander, was giving Halloran, 41, a Bulger associate, a ride home from a bar on Boston’s waterfront on May 11, 1982, when Bulger and an unidentified accomplice opened fire on the pair, killing both.”

Steve Flemmi/dateline nbc

U.S. District Court Judge Reginald C. Lindsay found the FBI was negligent in its handling of Bulger and his sidekick Stephen Flemmi. In March 2009, another judge held a trial on damages and awarded $6.4 million to Donahue’s wife and sons and $2 million to Halloran’s widow, the Globe reported.

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Ex-New Orleans U.S. Atty. John Volz Who Prosecuted Governor and Crime Boss Dies at Age 74

By Allan Lengel

Former New Orleans U. S Attorney John Volz, who prosecuted such notables  as crime boss Carlos Marcello, former Gov. Edwin Edwards and former New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick, died in Tulsa Saturday morning after a lengthy illness, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. The Carter appointee was 74.

U.S. District Judge Lance Africk, who worked for Mr. Volz in the U.S. Attorney’s office, said Mr. Volz was an honorable man who loved his family and friends.

“As U.S. attorney there was only one trail he followed – the trail of evidence,” U.S. District Judge Lance Africk, who worked for Volz in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, told the Picayune. “He was a fearless advocate for the community. And he was fearless when it came to public corruption cases.”

Mr. Volz, a New Orleans native, held the job from 1978 to 1990, the paper reported. In recent years, he worked as an administrative law judge in Tulsa, until his retirement in December, the paper reported.

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Washington Post Editorial Praises Justice. Dept. IG Glenn Fine

Glenn Fine/doj photo

By The Washington Post
Editorial Page

WASHINGTON — THE JOB of inspector general is often a thankless one, requiring the ability to make unflinching and crucial assessments that are not always well received by colleagues.

The Justice Department employed one of the best for the past decade in the person of Glenn A. Fine, who recently stepped down.

Mr. Fine was instrumental in unearthing problems and identifying solutions in the mammoth agency since joining the IG’s office in the mid-1990s. He took over the reins in 2000 and led investigations into all facets of the department’s operations.

He documented the FBI’s early abuse of national security letters – powerful tools issued without judicial review and used to obtain information from individuals and corporations alike. He later produced an authoritative review lauding FBI leaders for significant improvements. This latter report was credible in part because Mr. Fine did not pull punches in his original criticism.

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Weekend Series on Crime History: RFK’s Assassin Sirhan Sirhan

Chandra Levy’s Convicted Killer Gets 60 Years in Prison; Mother Tells Killer “F— You!”

Ingmar Guandique

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON – Ingmar Guandique, who was convicted of killing intern Chandra Levy in a case that captured the nation’s attention over the years, was sentenced Friday in D.C. Superior Court to 60 years in prison.

The sentencing for Guandique, 29, fell short of the life in prison without parole the U.S. Attorney’s Office had asked for.

Levy, a native of Modesto, Calif. went missing in Washington in  May of 2001. A year later, her skeletal remains were found in Rock Creek Park in the Upper Northwest section of Washington. Guandique was convicted,thanks in part, to key testimony from a cell mate.

Before being sentenced, Guandique addressed the Levy family and said, according to the Washington Post:

“I am sorry for what happened to your daughter. But I had nothing to do with it. I am innocent.”

Chandra Levy

Levy’s mother also spoke, reading a statement she, her husband and son had submitted to court, the Post reported.

“Because of you, young man, you have caused us to live a Holocaust again. You have sentenced our entire family to days of sadness, tears and heartache. You are a hideous creature.”

“How could you take my daughter’s life? Did you really take her life? Look me in my eyes and tell me.”

She then said, according to TBD: “F— You!”

“Over nearly 10 years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Metropolitan Police Department, FBI, and other law enforcement agencies have worked tirelessly to solve this case,” U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said in a statement.

“Late last year, the question of who killed Chandra Levy was finally answered by a District of Columbia jury when Ingmar Guandique was found guilty of first degree felony murder. We hope that this sentence provides some measure of closure to the Levy family, which has shown remarkable strength throughout this ordeal.”

D.C.Police Chief Cathy Lanier issued a statement saying: “This was a complicated case that spanned a decade. I applaud the detectives and prosecutors for their uncompromising resolve. My thoughts are with the Levy family for all they have endured.”