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Feds Get Conviction on Third Try Against Racist Talk Show Host Hal Turner

Hal Turner/msnbc photo

Hal Turner/msnbc photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The third time worked for federal prosecutors.

After bumping up against two mistrials because of hung juries, federal prosecutors on Friday convicted Hal Turner, a racist internet radio talk show host and blogger, in Brooklyn U.S. District Court of threatening to assault and murder three U.S. Court of Appeals judges in Chicago in retaliation for them upholding a handgun ban in Chicago.

Jurors deliberated for about two hours before reaching a verdict in a trial that started Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Authorities said that Turner, 47, of North Bergen, N.J., was immediately taken into custody pending sentencing. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Turner was charged in June 2009 for writing Internet postings, saying he was outraged about the handgun decision by the judges.

“Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed,” he wrote. He also posted photographs, phone numbers, work address and room numbers of these judges, authorities said. The case was charged in Chicago, but a change of venue moved it to New York.

“There is no place in society for threatening federal judges with violence. Period,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement.”We are grateful that the jury saw these threats for what they were and rejected any notion that they were acceptable speech.”

Thomas Harrington Named to #3 Spot at FBI

Thomas Harrington (right)/fbi photo

Thomas Harrington (right)/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Thomas J. Harrington was named to the number three spot at the FBI, replacing Timothy P. Murphy, who moved up to the number two spot, the FBI announced Friday.

Up until now, Harrington was the FBI’s number four person, serving as the executive assistant director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch.

“Throughout his 25 years with the Bureau, T.J. has distinguished himself as an innovative leader,” FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said in a statement. “He has led our efforts to become a more intelligence-led organization and initiated proven management practices to track progress, address gaps, and evaluate successes for our highest priorities and initiatives.”

Ticklethewire.com reported July 26 that Harrington was being considered for the number three spot.   Along with that report, came speculation that Shawn Henry, who now heads up the Washington field office, would return to headquarters and take the number four spot. Then Kevin Perkins, who heads up the Criminal Investigative Division at headquarters,  would take over the Washington field office.

Stay tuned.

To Read Harrington bio click here.

Ex-FBI’s John Pistole Planning Changes at TSA

john_s_pistole tsaBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — As expected, the FBI’s number two person John Pistole, who now heads up the Transportation Security Administration, is making some changes.

The Federal Diary column at the Washington Post reports that Pistole is considering creating a small corps of TSA officers that would have law enforcement status.

Currently, screeners do not have that status and don’t carry guns and don’t make arrests. When they find something wrong — like a gun is found — law enforcement moves in to make the arrest if it’s warranted.

Pistole, in an interview with column’s author Joe Davidson, said the law enforcement would come from the current ranks or police agencies.

“Those details are currently being worked out, but I like the idea of having those who have experience in the business. But I’m looking at all options.”

As an aside, one question remains: How long will Pistole be around to implement changes at TSA?

That’s anyone’s guess. His name has occasionally surfaced in the rumor mill as a candidate to head up the FBI when Director Robert S. Mueller III steps down next year.

To read more from the column click here.

More State and Local Cops Getting FBI Top Secret Clearances

fbi logo largeBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — More state and local law enforcement officers are getting access to sensitive information about terrorism  from the federal government, USA Today reports.

The paper reported that the number of top-secret clearances from the FBI for local and state cops has been the highest since Sept. 11, 2001.

“Clearances granted to members of the FBI’s network of regional terrorism task forces jumped to 878 in 2009, up from 125 in 2007, signaling intensified attention to domestic terror threats,” the paper wrote. “During the same period, clearances granted to other law enforcement officers and contractors soared to 945 from 364.”

To read more click here.

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.

.

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.