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News Story

After Many Many Delays, Trial to Begin for Ex-Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson

Early on in this whole thing, Congressman William Jefferson had an opportunity to plead guilty and get about six years. Before things got too far along, he decided to pass and fight this. Well, here’s his opportunity.The ex-Congressman’s public persona has always been that of a  gentleman. But when the jury hears some of the FBI tapes, they may have different thoughts — or at least the prosecution hopes so.

By Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson while still in office

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson while still in office

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Nearly four years after FBI agents found $90,000 in marked bills stuffed inside the freezer in his Washington D.C. home, former Democratic Rep. William Jefferson will go on trial Tuesday, facing 16 federal bribery and public corruption charges.

While the “cold cash” came to symbolize the case on the Internet and late-night television, the investigation into complex international business deals also made legal history with the first-ever raid on a sitting congressional member’s office and a constitutional battle over the separation of powers and how bribery statutes are applied to members of Congress.

The indictment, which accuses Jefferson of seeking and sometimes receiving payments in return for helping businesses get contracts in western Africa, has already changed politics in both Louisiana and Nigeria.

Jefferson, a long-established New Orleans power broker, lost his bid for a 10th term in December to a relatively unknown Republican, Anh “Joseph” Cao. And Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar lost a run for his nation’s presidency, partly as a result of being listed as the intended recipient of bribes allegedly to be funneled from Jefferson.

Jefferson, 62, has maintained his innocence. If convicted, he would likely face up to 20 years in prison.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

The Cuban Spies Among Us

cubaIt’s always mind boggling when someone gets aways with spying for decades. It makes you wonder: Were they really that good or did some people simply miss some hints that something might have been amiss?

By Mary Beth Sheridan and Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — He was a courtly State Department intelligence analyst from a prominent family who loved to sail and peruse the London Review of Books. Occasionally, he would voice frustration with U.S. policies, but to his liberal neighbors in Northwest D.C. it was nothing out of the ordinary. “We were all appalled by the Bush years,” one said.

What Walter Kendall Myers kept hidden, according to documents unsealed in court Friday, was a deep and long-standing anger toward his country, an anger that allegedly made him willing to spy for Cuba for three decades.

“I have become so bitter these past few months. Watching the evening news is a radicalizing experience,” he wrote in his diary in 1978, referring to what he described as greedy U.S. oil companies, inadequate health care and “the utter complacency of the oppressed” in America. On a trip to Cuba, federal law enforcement officials said in legal filings, Myers found a new inspiration: the communist revolution.

For Full Story

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald on the Attack About a Book that “Defames Me”

Patrick Fitzgerald/file photo

Patrick Fitzgerald/file photo

Talk to prosecutors around the country and you’ll often hear them say Chicago’s U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is top notch, the gold standard. But Fitzpatrick is obviously worried about protecting that reputation and is going after a book he feels casts him in false light.  It’s an interesting story.

By Michael Isikoff
NEWSWEEK

Patrick Fitzgerald may be the most feared prosecutor in the country, but even as he’s racked up headlines for big-name convictions (Scooter Libby) and indictments (Rod Blagojevich), the hard-charging U.S. attorney from Chicago has been waging a private crusade: trying to kill a book he believes maligns his reputation.

In the past year and a half, Fitzgerald has written four letters to HarperCollins-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.-demanding it “cease publication” and “withdraw” copies of Triple Cross, a 2006 book by ex-TV newsman Peter Lance that criticizes Fitzgerald’s handling of terror cases in New York in the 1990s.

Fitzgerald raised the temperature even more last week, aiming to halt a paperback version. “To put it plain and simple,” he wrote in a June 2 letter obtained by NEWSWEEK, “if in fact you publish the book this month and it defames me or casts me in a false light, HarperCollins will be sued.”

For Full Story

Justice Dept. Quietly Transfers Two Integrity Section Prosecutors Tied to Tainted Case Involving Alaska Lawmakers

The Justice Department should be applauded for such action. No action would send a signal that this isn’t a big deal — and it is.

scales-of-justice1

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Justice Department leaders quietly transferred two career prosecutors under fire for their work in Alaska corruption cases out of the department’s public integrity section this week as scrutiny of the troubled unit intensifies, according to two sources.

Prosecutors Nicholas Marsh and Edward Sullivan received notice of their reassignment Thursday, the same day that department officials petitioned an appeals court to release from prison two Alaska legislators convicted of bribery and extortion offenses, said the sources, who requested anonymity to speak about the personnel issue.

The criminal convictions of Peter Kott, former speaker of the state’s House of Representatives, and longtime legislator Victor Kohring will be sent back to a lower court for review. Justice Department officials disclosed late Thursday that they had uncovered evidence-sharing lapses in the cases similar to those that demolished their case against long-serving Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) in April.

For Full Story

The Weekend Dose of Humor: A New Twist on the FBI’s Most Wanted

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUM1BZocWpc

Obama Admin. Unveils New Anti-Narcotics Plan for U.S.-Mexico Border

This plan is long overdue. The problem along the Mexican border is out of control. The question is: How long will it take to upgrade and get this all in motion? Unfortunately, there have been times in the past where it has taken way too long to implement big ideas.

mexico-border-sign

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer

The Obama administration released yesterday a counternarcotics strategy for the U.S.-Mexico border that calls for deploying new technology, stepping up intelligence gathering and increasing interdiction of ships, aircraft and vehicles that are smuggling drugs, gun and cash.

Among other things, the 65-page White House Office of National Drug Control Policy document says federal agencies should modernize airborne sensors and extend surveillance of boats “from the coast to beyond the horizon.” It also calls for improving tracking devices that can be hidden in illegal shipments and, when necessary, allowing more banned items to move through smuggling networks to expose their leaders.

For Full Story

Nationwide Manhunt on for Man Who Threatened to Kill Pres. Obama

utah

Most people discuss things like interest rates or certificates of deposits with bank employees.  Daniel James Murray was different. He told employees at a Utah bank “We’re on a mission to kill the President of the United States”, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.

It doesn’t matter if he was serious or not. Authorities are dead serious about his comment.

BY Glenn Blain In Rexford, N.Y., James Gordon Meek In Washington and Corky Siemaszko In New York
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

A nationwide manhunt was underway Friday night for the “Cape Man” of Blue Jay Way – a gun-loving goofball from upstate New York who threatened to kill President Obama.

Daniel James Murray, who got G-men on his tail by telling a Utah bank manager he was “on a mission to kill” Obama, was last seen heading east in a blue 2001 Buick LeSabre with New York plates.

Murray’s pursuers are concerned because he has eight registered semiautomatic pistols and revolvers.

For Full Story

Read Criminal Complaint

Justice Department Launches Probe into Death of Abortion Doctor

Scott Roeder/sedgwick co jail photo

Scott Roeder/sedgwick co jail photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Atty. in Kansas have launched a federal proble into the murder of  abortion doctor George Tiller, who was killed in church last Sunday.

“The Department of Justice will work tirelessly to determine the full involvement of any and all actors in this horrible crime, and to ensure that anyone who played a role in the offense is prosecuted to the full extent of federal law,” said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division in a prepared statement issued Friday afternoon.

“We will conduct a thorough investigation that will complement and build upon the fine work of the Sedgwick County District Attorney and other state and local law enforcement agencies,” she said.

The Justice Department said it will look at any potentional violatons of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act) or other federal statutes.

Scott Roeder, 51, has been charged with one count first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault in death of Dr. Tiller.