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Ohio Feds Seek Death Penalty in One of Cleveland’s Deadliest Fires

clevelandBy Glynnesha Taylor
ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors in Ohio are taking the unusual step and seeking the federal death penalty against a convicted drug dealer accused of setting off one of the deadliest fires in Cleveland’s history, according to the Associated Press.

Federal authorities are taking aim at Antun Lewis, 26, who is accused of breaking into the three-story home on May 21, 2005, of Medeia Carter, 33, and pouring gasoline on the first floor while her son was having a sleepover for his 14th birthday, the AP reported. The fire killed Carter and eight children between the ages of 7 to 15 including her son.

Prosecutors said the fact the rented home was paid for with federal Section 8 money allowed them to seek the federal death penalty, AP reported. Atty. General Eric Holder Jr. gave the final approval. The defense,which insists Lewis is innocent and would never have harmed the family, wants the Justice Department to reverse that decision.

Trial is set for Sept. 1.

Very few have ever been executed under the federal death penalty. One of the last three people who have been put to death in a federal case included Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh, who died by lethal injection on June 11, 2001.

Most federal death penalty cases involve the killing of a federal agent, interstate kidnapping, international drug rings or terrorism, AP reported.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Watch Out for Terror Babies: Seriously?

iStock_000004074557XSmall(5)By Matt Castello
ticklethewire.com

A new threat could be crawling across the nation, clad in diapers: Terror babies.

Seriously?

Well, yes seriously if you ask some Texas Republican members of Congress who cite former FBI agents, according to Wednesday’s  Anderson Cooper 360 show on CNN. Nonsense, if you ask a former high ranking FBI official, who appeared on the show.

The Texas lawmakers say “terror babies” are being born in the U.S. to acquire American citizenship. Then according to the members of Congress, who cite unnamed former FBI officials, the babies are flown overseas where they train for 20 to 30 years until they return in the hopes of attacking the United States.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) has discussed the issue on the House floor, and on Wednesday Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Tex.) spoke to Anderson Cooper about the issue.

Riddle provided no evidence to support her claim and declined to reveal who her ex-FBI sources were.

The CNN host also interviewed Tom Fuentes, the FBI’s assistant director in the Office of International Operations from 2004 until 2008.

“The FBI has 75 offices overseas, including offices in Jordan, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan,” Fuentes said on the show. “There was never a credible report — or any report, for that matter — coming across through all the various mechanisms of communication to indicate that there was such a plan for these terror babies to be born.”

Postal Worker Stole More than $130,000 in Treasury Checks

mailbox2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In these austere time, D.C. Postal carrier  Shareen Wilson figured out a way to earn some extra cash: She stole more than $130,000 in U.S. and D.C. Treasury checks before they could be delivered.

Now the 42-year-old is  off to federal prison.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates in Washington sentenced her Thursday to two years and one month in prison and ordered her to pay $134,416 in restitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Authorities say more than 50 businesses and individuals were victimized by the scheme that occurred between 2008 and 2010. Authorities said Wilson gave the checks to a conspirator who recruited others to cash the checks using fake and fraudulent id — usually at liquor stores. Wilson then got a cut of the  proceeds.

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Breaking News: Jurors in Blago Case Say They’ve Only Reached Agreement on 2 of 24 Counts

Ex-Gov Blagojevich as gov/state photo

Ex-Gov Blagojevich as gov/state photo

Update: Thurs. 6:10 p.m.– The Chicago Tribune reports that the jurors are done for the day and will return Monday.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Jurors in the corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich have come to an agreement on two of 24 counts, the Associated Press reported Thursday. The judge instructed them to continue deliberating.

The jurors indicated they had not even discussed 11 counts of wire fraud, and were deadlocked on another 11, the AP reported.

Blagojevich and his brother Robert are both on trial.

FBI Nabs “Grandad Bandit” in Louisiana; Time to Retire

Grandad Bandit/fbi photo

Grandad Bandit/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Looks like the prolific “Grandad Bandit”, suspected of at least 25 bank robberies in 13 states in less than two years, is retiring involuntarily —  and not to Florida to enjoy the early bird specials.

The FBI said agents arrested the bandit, aka Michael Francis Mara, 52, of Baton Rouge, La., in Baton Rouge on Wednesday following a stand off for hours.

Maria Glod of the Washington Post reported that agents and local police had surrounded a home in Baton Rouge Wednesday morning, and that Mara had a weapon and threatened to harm himself. But he peacefully surrendered by around 4:30 p.m.

“A tip to the FBI made today’s arrest possible,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of Alexandria.

Michael Morehart, special agent in charge of the Richmond office, said in a statement : “This arrest would not have been possible without the assistance of civic-minded citizens and the publicity provided by radio stations and print media and the coordination of digital billboards by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.”

Authorities said Mara “would enter a bank without a disguise, patiently wait in line, and then present a demand note to a bank teller. Once the demands were met, Mara allegedly would retrieve the demand note and exit the bank quietly.”

Marshals Say Az Esacapee and Accomplice May Have Changed Look

John McCluskey/marshal photo

John McCluskey/marshal photo

How McCluskey might look

How McCluskey might look

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Arizona prison escapee John Charles McCluskey and his companion Casslyn Welch have changed their appearance, the U.S. Marshals Service said Wednesday.

The Marshals Service issued a statement Wednesday saying that  McCluskey now has black hair and a beard and Welch has dyed her hair blonde.

The Marshals Service said investigators have been focusing their hunt in Western Montana and Southwest Canada.

McCluskey, 45, Tracy Province,42, and Daniel Renwick, 35, escaped from the Arizona State Prison in Kingman on July 30. Authorities believe Casslyn Welch, 43, assisted them in the escape.  U.S. Marshals had received tips that McCluskey and Welch were sighted east of Glacier National Park near the Canadian border.

On Aug. 1, Renwick was arrested in Rifle, Colo. after a brief car chase and firing a gun at police. Tracy Province was captured Monday in Wyoming after a woman in a church recognized him from television news broadcasts.

Authorities suspect  the escapees may have been responsible for the murders of an elderly couple at a campground in Santa Rosa, Calif.


Justice Dept: One of the International Kings of Credit Card Theft Data Captured in France

credit_cardsBy Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — A resident of Moscow, “BadB” lived the glamorous life, hopping jets to Europe, freely spending money — even as U.S. authorities marked him as one of the world’s “most prolific sellers” of stolen credit card data.

French authorities arrested Vladislav Anatolievich Horohorin, 27, at the airport in Nice this weekend. Federal law enforcement authorities said he had apparently been living it up on the French Riviera. At the time of the arrest, they said, he was carrying some casino-issued cards that give high rollers additional privileges.

The arrest was trumpeted today as a big catch for authorities working to crack down on the ever-growing and menacing problem of credit-card data and identity theft, though officials provided no financial estimates on the losses involved.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Of 1,997 Civil Rights Complaints Against Justice Dept., Only One Investigated

justice dept. logoBy Matt Castello
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A report released Tuesday showed that 1,997 civil rights complaints were filed against Justice Department employees during the first six months of 2010, but only one was investigated by the Inspector General’s Office.

The report issued by the Justice Department’s Inspector General said 1,815 of the complaints “did not fall within the OIG’s (Office of the Inspector General) jurisdiction or did not warrant further investigation.”

Of the 1,997 complaints, the Inspector General found that 182 required further review. At the same time, the Inspector General referred six of those complaints to the Federal Bureau of Prisons for further investigation.

The lone investigation that was pursued involved the alleged assault of a Muslim inmate. Abrasions were found on his head, left shoulder, knees and ankles during a medical assessment after U.S. Marshals Service turned him over to authorities.

In the two prior Inspector General reports, three investigations were initiated. All three involved the alleged mistreatment of Muslim inmates. The Inspector General deemed one as unsubstantiated.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.