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News Story

ICE Stops Detentions at Va. Facility After a Death

The death has made ICE rethink the way it handles non-citizens awaiting deportation. But is this an indication of something more systemic, something beyond Virginia?

By Nick Mirroff and Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer

The November death of a Prince William County man in immigration custody at Piedmont Regional Jail has prompted Immigration and Customs Enforcement to suspend placing new detainees at the facility, three hours south of the District near Farmville, Va.

In recent years, the rural six-county jail has contracted with ICE at rock-bottom rates to become a principal storehouse for noncitizen detainees from Northern Virginia and the District awaiting deportation. But since the Nov. 28 death of detainee Guido Newbrough, ICE has launched an investigation into medical care at the facility, and its detainee population had plunged from 330 to 53 as of yesterday. As a result, 50 jail employees have been laid off.

“There is no effort underway to cease utilizing Piedmont. However, we have stopped housing detainees at Piedmont while we continue to monitor current conditions at the facility,” said Cori Bassett, an ICE spokeswoman.
For Full Story

Now This Should Be Interesting: Judge Orders Feds to Release Documents in Eliot Spitzer Probe

Eliot Spitzer

Eliot Spitzer

The documents should give us some interesting insights into Eliot Spitzer  and the FBI investigation. Some say the probe was politically motivated and the feds wouldn’t have normally gone so far in a prostitution case. Others say there was enough suspicion of possible corruption to carry out the probe. Documents should be released next week.

By William K. Rashbaum
New York Times

A federal judge on Thursday ordered the federal prosecutors whose investigation exposed former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s involvement with a prostitute to unseal court records that may shed some light on the origins of the case that led to his resignation in March 2008.

The judge, Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court in Manhattan, ordered federal prosecutors to provide the records – sworn affidavits that were part of wiretap applications in the case – to The New York Times, which in December filed a motion to have the material unsealed.

Prosecutors argued that the documents should not be released, citing the privacy concerns of the more than 60 apparent clients of the prostitution ring who were intercepted and the need for confidentiality of law enforcement investigations.

But The Times agreed to the redaction of the names of the apparent clients and Judge Rakoff said that there was no longer a need for confidentiality concerning the investigation, which has concluded with charges against four people involved in the ring. Mr. Spitzer was never charged with a crime.

The judge, in ruling for the newspaper, wrote that “there is obvious interest in obtaining information about the origins of an investigation that led, ultimately, to the resignation of the governor of New York.”

For Full Story

Ex-Rep. Jefferson Takes His Constitutional Appeal to the Supreme Court

It has been 3 1/2 years since the FBI raided ex-Rep. William Jefferson’s homes on Capitol Hill and in New Orleans and that man has still not gone to trial. Could this latest move delay the May 26th trial?

By Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
Ex-Rep. William Jefferson while still in office

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson while still in office

WASHINGTON – Former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson’s attorneys are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court decision rejecting arguments that prosecutors improperly presented information about his legislative duties to a grand jury in violation of a constitutional separation of powers clause.

In a request filed late Wednesday and posted on the court’s Web this morning, Jefferson wants 14 of the 16 corruption charges he faces at a May 26 trial dropped.

The defense attorneys said the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia, in rejecting their appeal, not only failed to take note of grand jury testimony about his role in helping pass an African trade bill – a clear violation they said of the Constitution’s Speech or Debate clause – but refused to review unreleased grand jury testimony to determine if other violations occurred.

“The Speech or Debate Clause is a unique constitutional provision that creates an absolute privilege for legislative activities within its scope,” Jefferson’s attorneys said. “It protects legislators not only from conviction based on legislative acts, but also from having to defend themselves as a result of those acts.”
For Full Story

Feds Step Up Crackdown on Graft in Calif. Tomato Processing Biz

The food industry is grabbing unwanted publicity as of late. Peanut butter and tomatoes. What’s next? For the sake of us chronic snackers, please don’t mess with the Potato CHIPS!

By Demian Bulwa,
San Francisco Chronicle
SACRAMENTO — Federal investigators stepped up a crackdown on alleged graft in California’s huge tomato-processing industry by securing guilty pleas from two people Wednesday, including a Kings County woman who admitted to mislabeling products that should have been thrown out because of high mold content.

Jennifer Dahlman, 48, of Lemoore, was a longtime employee at SK Foods, which provides tomato paste to food makers for use in sauces, soups and other products. The Lemoore company has been the target of a federal probe into alleged bribery, price-fixing and mislabeling, with prosecutors calling it a “racketeering enterprise.”

Prosecutors said the corruption alleged in the case raised consumer prices for tomato sauces, soups and salsas.

For Full Story

The Circus Must Go On! Sen. Roland Burris Defends Himself as Things Heat Up

New Orleans U.S. Atty. Says 2 FBI Agents Should Be Immuned From Brutality Lawsuit

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans insists two FBI agents should have immunity under the law from a lawsuit involving a videotaped beating of a retired school teacher.
The teacher, Robert Davis, has filed a civil rights suit against New Orleans police officers and the the two agents Stephen Noh and Trent Miley.
In a motion filed Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office stated that because they were federal agents on the job, “Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, defendants Miley and Noh are improper defendants.”
“Therefore, a federal officer acting under the color of the law, such as defendants Noh and Miley are not subject to suit,” the motion said.
Davis’ lawsuit alleges that on Oct. 8, 2005 he was walking through the French Quarter and asked an officer about a curfew. After that, police officers and the FBI agents forced him to the ground and punched him repeatedly.

Read U.S. Attorney’s Motion

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Hoover’s FBI Investigated Jack Valenti’s Sexuality

Jack Valenti/cnn

Jack Valenti/cnn

Thirty seven years after his death, we’re still getting a glimpse into the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover and just how petty the agency was and how it investigated things that had nothing to do with public safety or national security.

By Joe Stephens
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — When Beltway insider Jack Valenti died two years ago at age 85, he was playing the role of intermediary between Washington and Hollywood as the theatrical, snowy-haired president of the Motion Picture Association of America.

But back in 1964, Valenti was a Houston ad executive newly installed at the White House as a top aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson. And J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI found itself quietly consumed with the vexing question of whether Valenti was gay.

Previously confidential FBI files show that Hoover’s deputies set out to determine whether Valenti, who had married two years earlier, maintained a relationship with a male commercial photographer. Republican Party operatives reportedly were pursuing a parallel investigation with the help of a retired FBI agent, bureau files show. No proof was ever found, but the files, obtained by The Washington Post under the federal Freedom of Information Act, provide further insight into the conduct of the FBI under Hoover, for whom damaging personal information on the powerful was a useful tool in his interactions with presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Richard M. Nixon.
For Full Story

At Least 9 Bush Officials Refused to Cooperate in Justice Probes

By Murray Waas
TalkingPointsMemo
Bush confidant Harriet Miers has refused to cooperate

Bush confidant Harriet Miers has refused to cooperate

WASHINGTON — At least nine Bush administration officials refused to cooperate with various Justice Department investigations during the final days of the Bush presidency, according to public records and interviews with federal law enforcement officials and many of the officials and their attorneys. In addition, two U.S. senators, a congresswoman, and the chief of staff to one of them, also refused to cooperate with the same investigations.
In large part because of that noncooperation, Justice Department officials sought criminal prosecutors in at least two cases so far to take over their investigations so that they can compel the testimony of many of those officials to testify through the use of a federal grand jury.
With the stakes now escalating for both sides — the possibility of grand jury subpoenas for recalcitrant witnesses and the specter of senior government officials invoking their Fifth Amendment right to self-incrimination — it remains unclear whether and how many of them will continue to defy investigators.
For Full Story