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News Story

Feds Takedown LA Area Gang Accused of Killing Sheriff’s Deputy and Involved in Hate Crimes

Fugitive Gang Member Arturo Flores/u.s. atty photo

Fugitive Gang Member Arturo Flores/u.s. atty photo

Federal authorities are calling this the largest gang takedown in U.S. history. Whatever the case, this gang was one nasty gang.

By The Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES –– Federal authorities today unveiled a sweeping racketeering indictment accusing a southern Los Angeles County street gang of a litany of crimes, including killing a sheriff’s deputy and committing hate crimes against African Americans in order to rid them from their turf.

The indictment, along with several related ones, charges more than 100 members of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang with murder, attempted murder, drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and witness intimidation. U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O’Brien, speaking at a news conference this morning, touted it as the “largest gang takedown in United States history.”

[Update at 12:20 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said the gang was named Varrios Hawaiian Gardens. The correct name is Varrio Hawaiian Gardens.]

The gang investigation began in 2005 after sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Ortiz was fatally shot while conducting an interview in Hawaiian Gardens, a gritty, largely Latino city east of the 605 Freeway and north of Long Beach.

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Obama Picks Duke Prof For Dept. of Justice Policy Office (BLT Legal Blog)

Ex-Assistant U.S. Atty. Charged in N.J. With Killing Witness

newark-map1Witnesses get bumped off in cases all the time. But usually one of the suspects isn’t a former federal prosecutor.

By DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI
New York Times
NEWARK – For prosecutors in New Jersey, much about the 2004 murder of Deshawn McCray was all too familiar: Yet another key witness in a major drug case had been shot dead before he could testify in court.

But there was one aspect of the killing that especially alarmed and infuriated prosecutors. They believed that a defense lawyer – a former prosecutor – had played a role in facilitating the murder.

The United States attorney has said that that lawyer, Paul Bergrin, relayed Mr. McCray’s identity to friends of one of his clients, a gang member who was facing life in prison on drug charges. The prosecutors said he had even met with members of his client’s gang in person to make clear what was at stake.

“No Kemo, no case,” Mr. Bergrin told the gang members, using Mr. McCray’s nickname, according to testimony in federal court this year.

Three months later, Mr. McCray was shot in the head by one of the gang members on a Newark street.

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FBI Dir. Robert Mueller Tells Congress Gitmo Detainees in U.S. Pose Risks

Robert Mueller III/file photo

Robert Mueller III/file photo

The testimony only helps create more questions than answers to this controversial topic.

By DEVLIN BARRETT
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress on Wednesday that bringing Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States could pose a number of risks, even if they were kept in maximum-security prisons. Responding to FBI concerns, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama administration would not put Americans at risk.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Mueller faced repeated questions about the prospect of transferring to the United States some of the 240 inmates currently held at the naval base in Cuba.

President Barack Obama has ordered the Guantanamo Bay detention center closed by January 2010, but that timetable may be in jeopardy. As Mueller testified, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to block funding for bringing detainees to the U.S., whether freed or imprisoned.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

EX-Assistant U.S. Attorney Charged in N.J. With Murdering

Chicago FBI Task Force to Feature Bank Robbers on Internet

On one hand you have to applaud the FBI in Chicago for doing this. On the other hand, you really have to ask: What took so long? For years, now federal and local law enforcement have passed up on using the Internet to help solve crimes. All the bureaus around the country have to do something like this now, rather than later.
By MIKE ROBINSON
Associated Press Legal Affairs Writer

fbi photo

fbi photo

CHICAGO — Bank robbers love being obscure. The last thing they want is to find themselves stars of the Internet.

Chicago’s FBI-led violent crimes task force, however, is launching a Web site designed to give this city’s bank robbers the prominence lawmen say they deserve.

The site www.bandittrackerchicago.com will feature photos taken by bank video cameras and other pictures of robbers if the FBI can get them, special agent in charge Robert Grant said Wednesday.

Getting the faces of robbers before the public is likely to produce tips for agents investigating holdups and alert bank workers to be watchful, Grant said.

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Feds Arrest 4 Men in Plot to Bomb Bronx Synagogue and Shoot Down Military Planes at N.Y. Military Base

bronx-imagesIt’s easy to become complacent when nothing happens for a while. Then along comes something like this to remind us that all is not well.

By Sewell Chan
New York Times
NEW YORK — Federal authorities arrested four men on Wednesday night on charges of plotting to bomb a synagogue in the Riverdale section of the Bronx and to use antiaircraft missiles to shoot down military planes at a military base in Newburgh, N.Y., 60 miles north of New York City.

The charges, which include conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction in the United States and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, represent some of the most significant allegations of domestic terrorism in some time. They come months into a new presidential administration, and as President Obama grapples with the question of how to handle detainees at the Guantánamo naval base in Cuba.

The four defendants – whom federal authorities identified as James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, all of Newburgh, in Orange County – are to appear in Federal District Court in White Plains, in Westchester County, on Thursday morning.

Though Mr. Cromitie, who is described as the lead defendant, is said to have told an F.B.I. informer that he had ties with Jaish-e-Muhammad, a jihadist group based in Pakistan, none of the defendants actually obtained weapons of mass destruction, according to the authorities.

The men were, however, given an antiaircraft missile system that was incapable of being fired, as well as homemade bombs containing inert plastic explosives, as part of the undercover investigation, the authorities said.

For Full Story

Updated New York Times Version

Read Criminal Complaint

Feds Say Detroit Drug Kingpin Used Mexican Plastic Surgeon to Change Face and Remove Fingerprints

detroit

Some drug dealers use fake identities. But Adarus Mazio Black was a little more creative and was willing to travel thousands of miles to throw the feds off  track.

By Paul Egan
The Detroit News
DETROIT — Adarus Mazio Black made so many millions from the cocaine he sold and so feared detection of murders committed to protect his turf that he used multiple identities and paid a plastic surgeon in Mexico to change his facial appearance and surgically remove his fingerprints, a federal jury was told Tuesday.

Black’s drug trial, expected to last about three weeks in U.S. District Court in Detroit, could provide a rare glimpse into the secretive and violent life of an alleged drug kingpin.

Special Agent Edward Donovan of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration testified that he began to investigate Black after learning a major Manhattan drug dealer, Angel “Amigo” Esparza, had moved to Detroit to set up a cocaine-dealing operation.

On Aug. 24, 2004, just days after moving to Detroit, Esparza’s bullet-riddled body was found in a Detroit alley. The burning and duct-taped body of an Esparza associate, Rigoberto Martinez, was found in another alley.

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Justice Dept. to Expand Healthcare Fraud Investigations

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr.

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr.

Not a bad idea in a country where fraud is running rampant and costing taxpayers far more than they can imagine.

By Carrie Johnson
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON– The Obama administration today announced it would expand Justice Department health-care strike forces to Detroit and Houston, part of a broader commitment to root out fraud in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appeared at Justice Department headquarters in Washington to announce the move, which they portrayed as an effort to rein in fraud, waste and abuse in the taxpayer-funded programs. Medicare and Medicaid spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually on health care for the elderly, disabled and poor.

Health-care fraud is among the top enforcement priorities of the new team at the Justice Department, which is working closely with the inspector general at HHS and the FBI to collect and analyze computerized information about fraudulent claims.

For Full Story

NFL Star Michael Vick Will Finish Up Federal Prison Time at Home

If ever there was an evil poster child for dog lovers, this is it. Michael Vick was involved in some evil things. He’s trying to put his life together and hopes to get back to the NFL to pay off his debts in bankruptcy court. There are plenty folks out there who think the football league should never let him return.
By Larry O’Dell
Associated Press
RICHMOND, Va. – Imprisoned NFL star Michael Vick will be allowed to finish his sentence under home confinement because there is no room at a halfway house for him, a government official told The Associated Press Thursday.

Vick is serving a 23-month sentence at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., after pleading guilty to bankrolling a dogfighting operation at a home he owned in eastern Virginia’s Surry County. He also admitted to participating in the killing of several underperforming dogs.

Vick’s lawyers have said they expected him to be moved any day into a halfway house in Newport News. But because of a lack of space, Vick will be released instead to his Hampton home at some point on or after May 21, said the official, who has knowledge of the case but requested anonymity because the individual was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

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httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mg5B1IMlQoI