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News Story

About 1 American A Week Is Being Murdered In Mexico

The drug wars, the homicide, the violence south of the border is taking its toll on Americans.

By LISE OLSEN
Houston Chronicle
HOUSTON — A 22-year-old man from Houston and his 16-year-old friend are hauled out of a minivan in Mexico, shot execution style by thugs in a black Lincoln Continental, and left dead in the dirt.
The body of a 65-year-old nurse from Brownsville is found floating in the Rio Grande after a visit to a Mexican beauty salon.
An American retiree, an ex-Marine, is stabbed to death as he camps on a Baja beach with his dog.
More than 200 U.S. citizens have been slain in Mexico’s escalating wave of violence since 2004 – an average of nearly one killing a week, according to a Houston Chronicle investigation into the deaths.
Rarely are the killers captured.
The U.S. State Department tracks most American homicides abroad, but the department releases minimal statistics and doesn’t include victims’ names or details about the deaths. The Chronicle examined hundreds of records to document the personal tragedies behind them.
For Full Story

FBI Confirms Frozen Remains of Lab Mice With Deadly Plague Were Lost

Most of the time, no one could give a rat’s behind about any missing mice. But when they’re infected with a deadly strain of plague, that’s another story.

BY TED SHERMAN AND JOSH MARGOLIN
Star-Ledger Staff
NEWARK — The frozen remains of two lab mice infected with deadly strains of plague were lost at a bioterror research facility at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark — the same high-security lab where three infected mice went missing four years ago.
The latest incident, which led to an FBI investigation, occurred in December but was never disclosed to the public.
University officials said there was no health threat.
The remains of the dead mice were contained in a red hazardous waste bag being stored in a locked freezer, according to the researchers. But an animal care supervisor could not account for them while preparing to sterilize and incinerate them.

For Full Story

U.S. Marshals Capture “Catch Me If You Can” Con Man in Cinci

Samuel Nickolas acted out occupational fantasies most of us only dream about or pay money to see in the movies like “Catch Me If You Can” starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio.

By Dan Horn
Cincinnati Enquirer
CINCINATTI — Federal authorities say that when Samuel Nickolas wanted a different life, he made one up.
Over the past six years, they say, the Harrison man pretended to be an airline pilot, an FBI agent and a medical doctor. They say he even performed a non-invasive medical procedure a few months ago after talking his way into a local doctor’s office.
His brief career as a physician ended abruptly Friday when U.S. Marshals arrested Nickolas for the third time since 2002 on charges of making false statements.
“We think he has a serious problem,” said Tim Oakley, an assistant U.S. attorney in Cincinnati.
U.S. Magistrate Tim Black ordered Nickolas to get a psychological evaluation and placed him under house arrest until his case is resolved in federal court.
For Full Story

Sleeping With the Fishes? Dead Fish Shows Up At D.C. Homeland Security Office

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — It was like a scene out of the Godfather.
A letter containing a dead fish showed up Friday at a downtown office of the Department of Homeland Security.
The letter, which also contained white powder, was addressed to an employee.
The Associated Press reported that FBI Washington Field Office spokeswoman Katherine Schweit said the letter was been sent to a lab for examination and people were screened who came in contact with it.

New Mexico U.S. Attorney Would Like to Stay

Interestingly, this office was at the center of the U.S. Attorney firing controversy. And now the office is involved in a pay-to-play investigation into state government and Gov. Bill Richardson. Will any of this make a difference in the Obama Justice Department’s decision whether to keep the U.S. Attorney?

By TIM KORTE
Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.– Greg Fouratt hopes to stay in place. But with a new administration in Washington, the U.S. attorney in New Mexico is realistic and knows he could be changing jobs soon.
It’s likely President Barack Obama will appoint someone else to serve as the chief federal law enforcement official in New Mexico. In that scenario, Fouratt would go back to carrying a briefcase to represent the government in court.
“There’s a lot to like about this job,” Fouratt said in an interview with The Associated Press. “If I could be helpful staying in this position, then I would be privileged to stay. If it is the plan that I return to life as a line prosecutor, then I’ll help from that position.”
Yet there are a few complexities surrounding the situation.
First, Fouratt took over last year but wasn’t appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush, blunting the argument that political influences determine who fills the post.
Fouratt, 44, got the job in January 2008 when a panel of New Mexico federal judges, addressing a vacancy, determined a presidential appointment wasn’t imminent and exercised its authority to seat the position.

For Full Story

The Latest Government Screw Up in Sen. Ted Stevens’ Case Involving FBI Whistleblower

Sen. Ted Stevens/campaign photo

Sen. Ted Stevens/campaign photo

It’s hard to recall a high-profile case in recent years where the government has been involved in so many missteps. Here’s the latest one in the Stevens’ case.


By RICHARD MAUER
Anchorage Daily News

Federal prosecutors have found a new reason to apologize over misleading information they’ve provided to the judge in former Sen. Ted Stevens’ trial, and this time Stevens’ lawyers are saying the government should be held in contempt.
In a letter to the judge dated Jan. 30 and made public Thursday, William Welch, head of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, said he erred when he said in January that government employees cited in an FBI agent’s complaint alleging improprieties by government officials “want their story to be made public.”
In fact, he wrote, not all of them gave their consent to having their names released Jan. 14 in a publicly filed copy of the eight-page complaint, though he didn’t identify which ones.
In the complaint, agent Chad Joy accused a fellow agent and prosecutors of violating FBI policy and fair-trial rules in the wide-ranging public corruption investigation in Alaska and in Stevens’ trial last year.
The new apology comes on top of a series of errors and misstatements made by prosecutors in connection with the complaint and other issues that arose during and after Stevens’ trial.
For Full Story

OUCH!! Judge Says She May Toss Key Evidence in Barry Bonds Case

Barry Bonds could be one lucky guy — that is if the judge in his case tosses out some key evidence, which looks like a possibilty.

By Bob Egelko
San Francisco Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO — The federal government’s perjury case against Barry Bonds ran into trouble Thursday when a judge questioned whether prosecutors could use much of the evidence they say shows the former Giants star used steroids.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston did not issue a ruling after a 90-minute hearing in San Francisco on whether the prosecution’s evidence could be admitted at Bonds’ trial. But she said she was inclined to exclude evidence of blood and urine test results, laboratory records and steroid-use calendars unless prosecutors have a witness with first-hand knowledge to connect those items to Bonds.
That witness would be Greg Anderson, Bonds’ former trainer, who has already spent more than a year in jail for refusing to testify against his longtime friend, baseball’s all-time home run leader. Anderson is free now but could be imprisoned again if he declines to testify at Bonds’ trial.
For Full Story

Government Documents Unsealed 2.04.09

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson Having Problems With 2 Potential Witnesses From Nigeria Including Ex-V.P.

This case has been riddled with endless problems. The question at this points is: Will the ex-Rep. William Jefferson try to use this latest speed bump as an excuse to push for another delay?

By Bruce Alpert
Ex-Nigerian V.P.  Atiku Abubaker

Ex-Nigerian V.P. Atiku Abubakar

New Orleans Times-Picayune
WASHINGTON — Attorneys for former Rep. William Jefferson say they are getting the run around in their efforts to persuade two Nigerian witnesses to testify at his May 26 corruption trial.
The attorneys are trying to get testimony from former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Nigerian businessman Suleiman Yahyah, both of whom have made public statements denying that they discussed the payment of bribes to advance a telecommunications project the New Orleans Democrat was promoting.
Specifically, Jefferson’s attorneys have asked if the two potential witnesses would be willing “to waive their Fifth Amendment privileges and testify fully.”
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But the attorneys said in a brief filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., that Christopher Mead, an attorney for Abubakar, said he would “have to confer with his client” before responding. That was Jan. 15, and the attorneys said they still haven’t heard back.
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Read Jefferson Motion