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News Story

Deaths of U.S. Law Enforcement Officers Could Reach 2-Decade High

fatalaties chartBy Glynnesha Taylor
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — In 2009, the number of U.S. law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty reached a 50-year low. That downward trend is gone.

The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund (NLEOMF)  in Washington is reporting a 43 percent increase of officers killed in the line of duty during the first six months of 2010 compared to last year. Five of those were federal law enforcement officers, including a Border Patrol agent.

If the trend continues, the organization said, 2010 may prove to be the most deadly in two decades.

Preliminary statistics show that 87 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty between January 1 and June 30, 2010 compared to 61 during the same stretch in 2009, a 42.6 percent, the law enforcement organization said.

Read more »

ACLU Wants FBI to Disclose Info It’s Gathering on Ethnic Groups in the Name of Terrorism

acluBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ACLU offices around the country plan to file Freedom of Information Requests with the FBI to find out what type of information the agency is gathering on ethnic groups to battle terrorism, the Boston Globe reported.

The request comes in the wake of the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide issued in 2008 that allows agents to collect info on peoples’ behavior, lifestyles, religious practices, cultural traditions and even eating habits, the Globe reported.

The Globe reported that the guidelines say agents can “identify locations of concentrated ethnic communities” if the information will “reasonably aid the analysis of potential threats and vulnerabilities.”

The guidelines say the information might also be helpful because some communities “may be potential victims of civil rights crimes,” the Globe reported.

“FBI surveillance and mapping based on people’s religion, cultural practices, race, or ethnic backgrounds raise profound civil liberties concerns,” Carol Rose, executive director of the Massachusetts ACLU said, according to the Globe.

The paper said the FBI was not immediately available for comment.

For full story click here.

Judge Threatens to Hold Blago’s Attorney in Contempt

Sam Adam Jr./ law firm photo

Sam Adam Jr./ law firm photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Closing arguments in the public corruption trial of Ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich were supposed to finish up on Monday, but those plans were derailed when Blago’s attorney got into a big tiff with the judge, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The judge threatened to hold Blago’s attorney Sam Adam Jr in contempt if he said certain things during closing arguments. And Adam vowed to go to jail if necessary. The closing arguments were delayed.

Just another day in the Blago trial in downtown Chicago.

The tiff started just before Adam was to deliver his closing arguments. U.S. District Judge James Zagel told Adam — outside the presence of the jury — that he could not say that the prosecution mentioned 35 people in the case, including Tony Rezko, and never called them as witnesses.

“You cannot draw an evidentiary inference from the fact a witness was not called by the other side when you had an equal right to call them,” Zagel told Adam, according to the Sun-Times.

Adam argued with the judge, who said: “You will follow this order, because if you don’t you will be in contempt of court.”

“With all due deference to the court, I have a man here who’s arguing for his life. . . . I can’t effectively represent this man. . . . I can’t follow this order,” Adam told Zagel, according to the Sun-Times. “I’m willing to go to jail on this.”

After court, Sam Adam Jr. said he would go to jail “in a heartbeat” if that’s what it takes, the Sun-Times reported.

Arguments are scheduled to resume Tuesday.

To read more click here.

UPDATE: 12:55 PM Tuesday: Defense Attorney Sam Adam Jr. began delivering his closing argument without incident, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. To read more click here.

Violent Mexican Drug Cartels Spreading to Central America

Central-America-map-01By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The cancerous violence of the Mexican drug cartels seems to be spreading into Central America where the drug networks are burrowing in, the Washington Post reports.

And the presence of the cartels threatens to destabalize the countries that already face daunting crime figures, the Post reported.

The Mexican cartels “are spreading their horizons to states where they feel, quite frankly, more comfortable. These governments in Central America face a very real challenge in confronting these organizations,” David Gaddis, chief of operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration told the Post.

To read more click here.

Ex-FBI Agent Faces Peeping Tom and Public Drunkenness Charges

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former FBI agent, who faces Peeping Tom charges relating to an incident at a middle school in Hershey, Pa., is now also facing public drunkenness charges, the Patriot News reported.

The recent troubles of Ryan James Seese, 36, of Hershey, first started in May when he was arrested for allegedly standing on a toilet in the girl’s bathroom at Hershey Middle School and peering at a girl in the next stall while a concert was being held at the school, the newspaper reported.hershey pa

He was charged with criminal trespass, invasion of privacy and disorderly conduct, the paper reported.

Last Thursday, the Derry Township police charged him with public drunkenness around 3:30 a.m. on East Areba Avenue, the paper reported, adding that there were no other details available.

The paper, referring to court documents, wrote that Seese left the FBI in 2007 after getting caught in the women’s bathroom at the University of Arizona. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of public indecency, records show.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Va. Terror Suspect to Stay in Jail Pending Trial (Washington Post)
Arresting U.S. Fugitives is Win-Win For Mexican Police Squad (Los Angeles Times)
Blagojevich’s Life Size Elvis May Be Auctioned Off (AP)
Woman Sentenced to Prison For Faking Breast Cancer (AP)
Feds Push Fingerprint Dragnet for Illegal Immigrants (AP)
Republicans on Judiciary Demand Probe into Handling of  Black Panther Case (TPM)

Musical Chairs Expected at FBI Headquarters With Departure of Pistole

Shawn Henry /fbi photo

Shawn Henry /fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Expect a game of musical chairs over at FBI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue now that the number two person John Pistole has left the agency and Timothy Murphy, the number three person, has replaced him.

Nothing has been announced yet, but the rumors are circulating. Here’s one set of rumors — and I emphasize “RUMORS” at this point.

Kevin Perkins/fbi photo

Kevin Perkins/fbi photo

Thomas J. Harrington, the FBI’s number four person, might take over the number three spot that had been occupied by Murphy.

Now here’s the part that gets interesting.  Under the rumor scenario, Shawn Henry, a rising star in the FBI, who  took over the Washington field office as the assistant director in charge early this year, might return to headquarters and replace Harrington as the Executive Assistant Director over Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch.

Then Kevin Perkins, who heads up the Criminal Investigative Division at headquarters, would head up the Washington field office. At this point, it’s only rumors.

Timothy Murphy/fbi photo

Timothy Murphy/fbi photo

Michael Kortan, the FBI’s chief spokesman at headquarters, declined to comment on Monday.  And some of the agents, who are subject of the rumors, did not immediately respond to emails for comment.

Pistole’s departure set the stage for what’s to come. He was recently confirmed as head of the Transportation Security Administration.

D.C. U.S. Atty. Names Vincent Cohen Jr. to #2 Spot

Vincent H. Cohen Jr./law firm photo

Vincent H. Cohen Jr./law firm photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON – Vincent H. Cohen Jr. has left private practice to return to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington as the number two person, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.  announced Monday.

Cohen, 39, a partner in the D.C. law firm Schertler & Onorato, served as an assistant U.S. Attorney from 1997 to 2003. He worked cases involving bribery and gratuities, embezzlement, false claims, theft of government property, Worker’s Compensation fraud and violent crimes including murder, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

Cohen also worked on the civil side in the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Justice’s OPR Clears FBI Agent and Ex-Acting U.S. Attorney of Wrongdoing in N.J. Press Conference

Dun Weysan/fbi photo

Weysan Dun/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility has cleared New Jersey’s ex-acting U.S. Attorney and the former head of the Newark FBI of wrongdoing related to statements they made in 2009 at a press conference regarding a major public corruption indictment of more than 40 people, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

The Justice Department concluded that ex-acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra and  Weysan Dun, who headed the FBI’s New Jersey office at the time, but now heads up the Omaha Division, acted properly, the Star-Ledger reported.

The Justice Department had been looking into allegations that the men stepped over the line when they made comments about the probe. Some accused them of making inflammatory comments to help boost ex-U.S. Attorney Chris Christe’s chances in his run for New Jersey governor, the Star-Ledger reported.  Christie won.

“The politicians willingly put themselves up for sale. For these defendants, corruption was a way of life. They existed in an ethics-free zone,” Mara said at the press conference, according to the paper.

The FBI’s Dun, remarked: “This case is not about politics. It is certainly not about religion. It is about arrogance and it is about a shocking betrayal of the public trust.”

The paper reported that a letter issued last week from the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility said:

“Based upon the results of our investigation, we concluded that you did not violate any professional obligation and thus did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment in this matter,” wrote Mary Patrice Brown, acting counsel for the office.

The paper reported that Justice Department guidelines say a prosecutor “shall refrain from making extrajudicial comments that pose a serious and imminent threat of heightening public condemnation of the accused.”

To read more click here.