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News Story

Homeland Inspector Gen. Report Says Phony Lawmen Can Sneak Guns on Planes

airport-photo

Every time they release a report like this you scratch your head and wonder why we haven’t done more since Sept. 11, 2001 to fix the flaws in our airport security.

By Chris Joyner
Jackson Clarion-Ledger

A loophole in airport security could allow a phony lawman to bring guns aboard a plane with little more than a fake letter and a badge bought off the Internet, a newly declassified federal report concludes.

The report from Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner is sharply critical of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s procedures for keeping unauthorized guns off planes.

Skinner’s probe is the result of a series of Clarion-Ledger articles investigating security breaches at Jackson-Evers International Airport, including several instances in which Jackson Mayor Frank Melton was allowed to take his personal guns aboard flights to and from Jackson and other airports.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat who represents Mississippi’s 2nd District, asked Skinner to conduct the investigation into Melton’s armed flights and reports that TSA workers in Jackson had been tipped off to secret inspections designed to test airport security.

For Full Story

Feds Bust Postal Worker For Stealing $300,000-plus in Stamps and Selling Them on eBay

ebay1This comes under the category of “No wonder the Postal Service is losing money”. It makes you wonder how pervasive this problem is.

By Larry Carson
Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE — A U.S. Postal Service worker at the Elkridge post office is facing theft charges, accused of stealing more than $314,000 worth of stamps and, with a friend’s help, selling them on eBay.

Postal inspectors said in a federal criminal complaint that law enforcement officials began seeing stamps for sale on eBay at discounted prices in October 2008, and bought some, identifying a 23-year old Joppa man as the seller.

Through him, investigators were led to a postal clerk at the Elkridge Post Office. Later a video surveillance camera showed the man taking blocks of new stamps from a locked enclosure at the Elkridge office at 2:10 one January morning, and on other occasions.

Meanwhile, an audit of the Elkridge Post office turned up large numbers of missing stamps.

Postal inspectors said Marvin L. Foster, 54, of the 5300 block Kelmscot Road in Rosedale, a window clerk at the office, was seen on the video several times taking packages of stamps worth thousands of dollars at a time. Postal inspectors later bought several specially marked packages that they said Kyle Mathias, of the 2400 block Taylorbrook Lane had placed on eBay. Investigators said Mathias had sold $676,264 worth of merchandise, including stamps, since 2000.

For Full Story

Read Criminal Complaint

Long Island Police Consulted FBI Unit Before Arson Arrest

The FBI behavioral unit at Quantico has had its hand in many cases over the  years. Sometimes it has been right on and other times — not even close.  It may be a science, but it’s impossible to be right all the time.

fbi-logo2

BY JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
Newsday

Before they ever made an arrest, Nassau police used the help of a small, highly trained FBI behavioral unit to work up a psychological profile of an arsonist they say started a fire that killed four in Lawrence last month.

Later, they arrested Caleb Lacey, the volunteer firefighter who investigators now say set the blaze to gain glory as a hero.

Police departments nationwide and around the world have used the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit in Quantico, Va. It has helped in other arson investigations as well as serial rape and extortion cases, among others, FBI officials said.

James McNamara, a supervisory special agent in the unit, said 60 percent of cases come from local and state police. Eight agents handle all adult crimes in the United States and abroad, he said. Because the Lawrence probe is ongoing, he would not provide specifics on how his unit helped Nassau police.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Jenna Bush’s Secret Service Guys Get Tickets in Baltimore

Often times law enforcement cars get a pass when it comes to parking tickets or moving violations. But the Secret Service agents who protect Jena Bush found themselves in an embarrassing situation. Apparently, the city had had enough.

Jenna Bush/uga.edu

Jenna Bush/uga.edu

By Kelly Groft and Delia Goncalves
abc2news
BALTIMORE — Jenna Bush has called one stylish South Baltimore street, just outside Federal Hill, home for about a year. It seems in the course of that year, her Secret Service has been ignoring parking tickets. Friday, it finally caught up to them.

Adrienne Barnes from the Baltimore City Department of Transportation said, “We can confirm that two undescribed vehicles were ticketed one vehicle was towed.”

There was no sympathy from her neighbors.

“I think it’s great,” said James Gorman, “They should deal with everything we deal with day in and day out.” Maria Gonzalez added, “It’s nice to know no matter what the license plate says no matter what kind of car they’re going to take care of it.”

Department of Transportation officials said an agent paid to get the car released and will pay all fines incurred. The City typically tows after 3 outstanding parking tickets. “All 3 tickets have to be more than 30 days old,” explained Barnes.

For Full Story

Former FBI SAC John Bell Named Inspector Gen. of Detroit Schools

If ever there was a school system in dire straights, it’s Detroit. The good news is that emergency manager Robedetroitrt Bobb, the former deputy mayor of D.C. is there to help. He’s top notch. And now they’ve brought in another person of integrity, John E. Bell Jr., as inspector general. Bell is the former special agent in charge of the Detroit office and is no stranger to the shenanigans of the city that have helped put it behind the eight ball.

Tom Greenwood
Detroit News
DETROIT — Detroit Public Schools’ new financial management team will get some high-powered help from a former FBI special agent.

The team, announced today by new emergency manager Robert Bobb, includes Inspector General John E. Bell Jr., who served from 2002-2005 as special agent in charge of the Federal Air Marshal Service’s Detroit field office after 32 years with the FBI. Bell also served as special agent in charge of FBI investigative operations in Michigan.

Bell will be charged with rooting out waste, fraud and abuse in the district, Bobb said.

For Full Story

Owen Harris to Head FBI Charlotte Division

fbi1By Allan Lengel
ticklethwire.com
WASHINGTON — Owen Harris, who served as a section chief of the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence at headquarters, has been named special agent in charge of the Charlotte division, the agency announced Monday.

Harris, an agent since 1990, replaces Nathan T. Gray, who was recently named special agent in charge of the Phoneix division.

Harris’ first stint was in Gary, Ind. He later went on to become a supervisory agent in the Hate Crimes Unit within the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI Headquarters, the FBI said.

At that post, he served as the national program manager for civil rights investigations involving racial and religious discrimination, according to the bureau. He also represented the FBI on the U.S. Attorney General’s Hate Crimes Working Group and served on the President’s National Church Arson Task Force, which investigated arsons nationwide.

He took on several posts after that including violent crimes supervisor in the Houston Division, assistant section chief in the Counterterrorism Division,  and assistant special agent in charge of the Pittsburgh office. He returned to headquarters in 2007.

He is married and has three children.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Short of Agent Applicants With Language Skills Like Farsi

farsi2

By Allan Lengel
Ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The FBI, in the midst of a major campaign blitz to fill more 3,000 jobs, said it is having trouble attracting enough prospective agents who speak Chinese, Farsi, Russian, Somali and Swahili.

To boot, the agency said it has had a dearth of agent applicants with backgrounds in computer science, information technology, accounting and certified fraud examination.

Denise Ballew, an FBI spokeswoman, said the agency is running television ads to drum up interest in these jobs. She said the target cities for the remainder of the year are likely to include Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, Chicago, Washington and Atlanta.

Not to say there has been a shortage of applicants for other jobs.

To date, the agency said it has had more than 270,000 applicants for about 2,100 professional staff jobs and about 850 special agent positions. Since fiscal 2009 began on Oct. 1, 2008, the agency has hired 435 agents to fill the 850 openings and 600 professional staff posts out of about 2,100 openings, she said.

She said the FBI anticipates screening a pool of about 5,000 applicants to try and fill many of the remaining jobs by the end of fiscal 2009.

Ballew said the initial hiring blitz, first announced in December, was intended to address  the “then current and projected positions due to attrition and retirement.”

She said the agency expects to continue recruiting for agents beyond fiscal 2009.

Video of Drug Money Swirling Around the San Diego Freeway (see related story below)