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News Story

Detroit Police Monitoring Scandal Involving Ex-Fed Prosecutor Could Turn into Criminal Probe

The city of Detroit certainly has no surplus in its budget, no surplus of jobs. What it does have is a surplus of scandals.

Sheryl Robinson Wood/law firm photo
Ex-fed prosecutor Sheryl Robinson Wood/law firm photo

BY JOE SWICKARD and BEN SCHMITT
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — Former Detroit police monitor Sheryl Robinson Wood was ousted under a cloud. Some experts say a review of her ties to then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick may eventually turn into a criminal investigation.

“With the possibility of federal charges, there are no minor concerns,” said Detroit attorney Bill Goodman, who represented the City Council in its efforts to oust Kilpatrick.

Wood has been in talks this week with attorney Richard Craig Smith, an expert in white-collar crime and government investigations with the Washington, D.C., firm Fulbright & Jaworski. The firm was once home to Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski.

For Full Story

Karl Rove Had Bigger Role in U.S. Atty Firings Than Previously Understood

Frankly, it would have been a heck of lot more surprising if Karl Rove had minimal involvement in the U.S. Attorney firings during the Bush administration.
By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer

Karl Rove

Karl Rove

WASHINGTON — Political adviser Karl Rove and other high-ranking figures in the Bush White House played a greater role than previously understood in the firing of federal prosecutors almost three years ago, according to e-mails obtained by The Washington Post, in a scandal that led to mass Justice Department resignations and an ongoing criminal probe.

The e-mails and new interviews with key participants reflect contacts among Rove, aides in the Bush political affairs office and White House lawyers about the dismissal of three of the nine U.S. attorneys fired in 2006: New Mexico’s David C. Iglesias, the focus of ire from GOP lawmakers; Missouri’s Todd Graves, who had clashed with one of Rove’s former clients; and Arkansas’s Bud Cummins, who was pushed out to make way for a Rove protege.

The documents and interviews provide new information about efforts by political aides in the Bush White House, for example, to push a former colleague as a favored candidate for one of the U.S. attorney posts. They also reflect the intensity of efforts by lawmakers and party officials in New Mexico to unseat the top prosecutor there.

For Full Story

Nevada Brothel Owner Sentenced After Being Caught on FBI Wire

It doesn’t seem to have great shock value when a brotel owner in the great state of Nevada gets busted for bribing an official.

hooker1

By HENRY BREAN
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
LAS VEGAS — The second time she met with him to negotiate a bribe, Candice Trummell thought brothel owner Maynard “Joe” Richards seemed unusually paranoid.

He was nervous the feds might be following him, she said.

Richards was right to worry.

The 75-year-old owner of three Nye County brothels was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in connection with a political corruption case Trummell helped crack by wearing a microphone and a hidden camera for the FBI.

Richards will spend a year in a Las Vegas halfway house and five years on probation for trying to bribe Trummell in 2005, when she served on the Nye County Commission.

U.S. District Judge Robert Jones also fined Richards $250,000 and ordered him to report any money or “in-kind services” he might give to a public official while he’s on probation.

Jones called political corruption the most serious crime handled by the federal courts.

“Whether it’s a $100,000 or a $5,000 bribe, it simply won’t be tolerated,” the judge said.

For Full Story

Read Plea Memorandum

Online Data Sharing Leads to Disclosure of Sensitive Govt and Personal Info

computer1

Now this is pretty darn scary. Rep. Edolphus Towns says he plans to introduce legislation to ban such software. Whether or not that’s the answer, is another question. But someone needs to find the answer. It seems a more effective way would be to create a software that prevents this from happening. Banning software seems like a tough task.

By Brian Krebs and Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — The indiscriminate use of a popular online data-sharing technology has led to the disclosure of sensitive government and personal information — including FBI surveillance photos of a Mafia hit man, lists of people with HIV, and motorcade routes and safe-house locations for then-first lady Laura Bush, a congressional panel was told on Wednesday.

The information is often exposed inadvertently by people who download the technology to share music or other files, not realizing that the “peer-to-peer” software also makes the contents of their computers available to other users, experts said.

For Full Story

White Supremacist Indicted in Holocaust Museum Shooting Could Face Death Penlalty

This has been one of the more brazen, biszare hate-crime incidents. At age 89, he could face the death penalty. But at that age, he’s not likely to get it. Any prison sentence will be a life sentence.

Scene of the Crime
Scene of the Crime

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A federal grand jury indicted an elderly white supremacist Wednesday on charges that could earn him the death penalty in the fatal shooting of a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

Hate crimes charges were added to the case against James von Brunn, who has been in a hospital since the shooting last month.

Officials say the 89-year-old shot and killed museum guard Stephen T. Johns on June 10. Von Brunn was shot in the face by other guards but survived.

For Full Story

Read von Brunn Indictment

Mexican Police Commander, Wife and 4 Children Murdered: Could Be Related to Drug War

mexico-border-signThe motive has not been determined. But it very well may end up being the drug cartels, which are hoping through violence to make the Mexican and U.S. government back off. Meanwhile, on Wednesday the Associated Press reported that Mexican authorities had found a Mexican radio journalist beaten, dead and partially buried in Acapulco. Whatever help the U.S. is providing in this violent battle, apparently it’s not enough.

By MIGUEL ANGEL HERNANDEZ
The Associated Press
VERACRUZ, Mexico — Gunmen shot up and torched the home of a Mexican police commander Wednesday, killing the officer, his wife and his four children, including a 6-year-old boy.

The interior of the house in the Gulf coast city of Veracruz was completely burned, and its facade was riddled with bullet holes. Inside, police found the bodies of municipal police commander Jesus Antonio Romero and his family, Veracruz state Public Safety Secretary Sergio Lopez said.

Police said the youngest was a 6-year-old boy and the oldest was a 15-year-old girl.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Attorney Says Jefferson May Have Violated Ethics But Didn’t Break Law

I dunno know about morals but I do got rules” Tony Soprano

tony-soprano

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
ALEXANDRIA,Va. – The prosecution’s closing argument went something like this: Ex-Congressman William Jefferson was a crook. He sold his office. He took bribes.

The defense argument went something like this: Sure Jefferson may have had some ethical breaches; done some stupid and reckless things. But he committed no crime and the government simply created a case out of fiction.

With that kind exchange of words, court ended late Wednesday afternoon. The jury of eight women and four men will get instructions from U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III Thursday morning and then begin deliberating on the 16 felony counts.

Jefferson,62, chose to go to trial and fight the case rather than entertain a plea agreement.

Earlier on, after the FBI raided his homes in August 2005, there were some initial talks of a plea agreement that amounted to about six years in prison. They never went very far.

Now we’ll finally see if the gamble pays off.  A conviction could easily land him at least 10 years in prison, that is if you take into account that two smaller fish – Vernon Jackson and Brett Pfeffer — are already serving more than seven years each for pleading guilty to bribing him.

William Jefferson
William Jefferson

Jackson, owner of iGate, a high tech company, and Pfeffer, a former Jefferson aide, both testified against Jefferson during the seven-week trial and are likely to get sentence reductions.

Jefferson faces a mountain of felony charges including soliciting bribes, bribing a foreign official, racketeering, obstruction of justice and money laundering. He is accused of taking more than $400,000 in bribes and working to get millions more.

Authorities have contended that he used his official office to promote business in Africa that he and his family had secret financial interest in. Payoffs were made to sham, paper companies, the prosecution charged.

On Wednesday, the 9th floor courtroom in Alexandria was packed – at least for part of the day with Jefferson’s wife and five daughters in attendance.  So was Ed Weidenfeld, the D.C.. attorney for the Atiku Abubakar, the ex-Vice President of Nigeria, whom Jefferson is accused of bribing.

During the defense’s closing argument, some how the classic line from Tony Soprano came to mind: “I dunno about morals, but I do got rules.”

In Jefferson’s case, perhaps, more appropriately,  the theme of his defense would be; “I dunno about ethics, but I do got rules”, meaning his ethics are suspect, but he has rules when it comes to stepping over the line and committing a crime.

Read more »

Texas Tech Professors Protest Hiring of ex-Atty Gen. Alberto Gonzales

At the onset, the university said it was excited to get Alberto Gonzales. But why? Sure he had a great title. But he was one of the most inept Attorney Generals in recent U.S. history. Titles aren’t everything.

Alberto Gonzales
Alberto Gonzales

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record

Seventy professors at Texas Tech University have signed a petition protesting the hiring of Alberto Gonzales and accused the college’s chancellor of nepotism in bringing the disgraced former attorney general to campus to teach a political science class.

According a copy of the petition obtained by the Texas Tech’s student newspaper, The Daily Toreador, the nine-page petition, which includes an appendix, calls Gonzales’s one-year professorship “a troubling example of a ‘celebrity hire'” and claims that the hiring of Gonzales by his “good friend,” Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance, “cannot be seen as a commitment to ethical conduct.”

For Full Story