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News Story

An Ex-Lobbyist and the Virginia Gov’s Brother-in-Law are Among Candidates for U.S. Atty. in Va.

It’s an interesting mix of candidates for the U.S. Atty. post  in Virginia. The question is whether President Obama wants to deal with the possible backlash of appointing an ex-lobbyist or the Virginia governor’s brother-in-law.  The latter might look just a little too much like political cronyism even if he is well qualified.  Va. Gov. Tim Kane’s name surfaced during the campaign as a possible vice presidential candidate and was a big booster of Obama and helped Virginia turn into a blue state, the first time since Lyndon Johnson.

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A former corporate lobbyist and the brother-in-law of Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine are among four candidates recommended by Virginia’s U.S. senators for U.S. attorney in Alexandria, one of the nation’s most prominent law-enforcement posts, officials said yesterday.

Ex-Lobbyist Neil MacBride

Ex-Lobbyist Neil MacBride

Neil MacBride, a former prosecutor and chief counsel to Vice President Biden who lobbied federal officials as recently as mid-2007, and Dwight C. Holton, a federal prosecutor in Oregon and the brother of Kaine’s wife, are on the list of names sent to the White House by Sens. James Webb (D) and Mark Warner (D). The list also includes Erik R. Barnett, a federal prosecutor in Alexandria who heads the narcotics unit, and Robert P. Crouch Jr., a former U.S. attorney in Roanoke.

The Alexandria job has grown increasingly visible in recent years as the U.S. attorney has handled high-profile terrorism and national security cases. Recommendations from home-state senators are traditionally key to the appointment.

For Full Story

FBI in Michigan Busts President of Motorcycle Gang Named “Fat Dog” and 17 Other Members

michigan11Any organization headed by a guy named “Fat Dog” can’t be up to  any good.

BY TAMMY STABLES BATTAGLIA
DETROIT FREE PRESS

Federal agents arrested the head and 17 members of a nationwide motorcycle gang based in Clinton Township, seizing 55 pounds of marijuana, 1000 Vicodin pills, 1.5 pounds of methamphetamine, 15 slot machines, 42 firearms and $12,000 in cash in the process.

The agencies also seized the Devil’s Diciples “clubhouses” in Port Huron and at 43653 Gratiot in Clinton Township, according to a release issued this afternoon.

The group intentionally spells its name wrong.

FBI agents today arrested the gang’s leader, Jeff Garvin Smith, aka “Fat Dog,” for possessing two sets of body armor. It’s illegal for a convicted felon like Smith to possess body armor, according to the release.

For Full Story

Commentary: Justice Failed to Deliver Justice in the Sen. Stevens Trial

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The case against Sen. Ted Stevens was supposed to be an easy one. Clean. No complications.

No need to prove bribery, just that the curmudgeonly Senator, who was known for wheeling and dealing, had lied on financial disclosure forms by failing to report $250,000 in free gifts and renovations to his Alaska home.

Instead, it turned into a nightmare and an embarrassing one at that for the Justice Department.

First off the trial was a mess.  Time after time, the defense complained about the prosecutions’ failure to turn over  evidence it was required to, or properly handle witnesses.  

 U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan admonished the prosecution repeatedly  and at one point said he had no confidence in their ability to give Stevens a fair trial.  Not good.

 The judge only seemed to get angrier.  Meanwhile, over at Main Justice, some folks saw the mess unfolding and worried that the prosecution team would blow this high profile case involving a powerful Senator. Bringing down a senator is not taken lightly over there.

Miraculously, in October, there was a conviction, which was more a  testmonial to the simplicity of the case rather than the execution by the prosecution. 

 In post-trial proceedings, things got worse.  Judge Sullivan held three prosecutors in contempt for failing to follow a court order.  And an FBI agent filed an affidavit in court accusing another FBI agent of misconduct during the investigation.

    Could there have been more missteps?

    It became clearer and clearer that the government, if not the judge, would have no choice but to call for a new trial or outright dismiss the case.

   On Wednesday, the Justice Department moved to do the right thing and filed a motion to erase the conviction and drop the case all together. The embarrassment and injustice proved to be too much. A hearing on the matter is set for Tuesday.

Read more »

Justice Department to Drop Case Against Convicted Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens

If ever there was a federal prosecution begging to be dismissed, this is it. The prosecution time and again screwed up and was admonished by the judge. Then came the big bomb: an FBI agent accused another agent on the case of misconduct. In the end, some questions linger: How could the prosecution have screwed up so badly? And will someone in the Justice Department get fired or demoted and will the FBI agent accused of wrongdoing face criminal charges?

By Nina Totenberg
National Public Radio
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department will drop all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, NPR has learned.

A jury convicted Stevens last fall of seven counts of lying on his Senate disclosure form in order to conceal $250,000 in gifts from an oil industry executive and other friends.

Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, however, he lost his bid for an eighth full term in office just days after he was convicted. Since then, charges of prosecutorial misconduct have delayed his sentencing and prompted defense motions for a new trial.

According to Justice Department officials, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to drop the case against Stevens rather than continue to defend the conviction in the face of persistent problems stemming from the actions of prosecutors.

The judge in the Stevens case has repeatedly delayed sentencing and criticized trial prosecutors for what he’s called prosecutorial misconduct. At one point, prosecutors were held in contempt.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Federal Marshals Seized Madoff’s 55-foot Boat (AP)

FBI Questioning Missouri Lawmakers About Campaign Contributions

missouri-mapThere’s trouble brewing in the “Show Me State”. It seems some politicians just can’t keep from profiting from their position of trust and power. This could be a big big scandal.

 
By DAVID A. LIEB
Associated Press Writer
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The FBI is questioning Missouri lawmakers about allegations that legislative leaders demanded campaign contributions in exchange for prestigious committee posts, legislative sources told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Three lawmakers said they specifically were asked about House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, a Democrat from Independence. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing probe and because they didn’t want colleagues to know they had spoken with federal investigators.

In an interview with the AP, LeVota said he has not been contacted by the FBI. He denied any wrongdoing and suggested the accusations stem from a disgruntled political rival.

For Full Story

Mexican Cartel Member Pleads Guilty to Threatening to Kill DEA and FBI Agents

mexico-map21This is just another side of the boldness of the Mexican cartels. Some how it seems the Mexican cartel problem will continue to spill over into the U.S. until the U.S. give it its all. At this point, the U.S. is showing signs that it recognizes the problem, but still hasn’t put up enough resources to address it.
By Juan A. Lozano
Houston Chronicle
HOUSTON – A member of one of Mexico’s most notorious drug operations pleaded guilty Tuesday to threatening to kill two U.S. federal agents who were cornered and held at gunpoint by members of the Gulf cartel.

Juan Carlos de La Cruz Reyna pleaded guilty to two counts of threatening to assault and murder a federal officer.

De La Cruz Reyna was one of 10 alleged members of various cartels extradited to the U.S. from Mexico late last year. Another alleged Gulf cartel member, Ruben Sauceda-Rivera, pleaded guilty Tuesday to money laundering. Both are to be sentenced July 3.

Sauceda-Rivera, 42, and de La Cruz Reyna, 34, were indicted in 2002 in Brownsville. Sauceda-Rivera originally faced 11 drug trafficking counts and one count of money laundering. The drug trafficking charges will be dropped in exchange for the plea on the money laundering charge, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

De La Cruz Reyna’s attorney, Reynaldo Garza, said his client was unable to reach an agreement with prosecutors. Each count of threatening to assault and murder a federal officer carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.

For Full Story

Mexico Cartels Have Bullet Proof Vests Emblazoned With DEA and FBI

DEA agents at Quantico/ticklethewire.com photo

DEA agents at Quantico/ticklethewire.com photo

Not surprising, the cartels have access to things they shouldn’t. But this is truly scary.

By Dane Schiller
Houston Chronicle
HOUSTON — Mexico’s Gulf Cartel may have 40 bullet-proof vests emblazoned with “FBI” and “DEA” to trick their drug-trafficking rivals, according to a new law enforcement advisory.

Baseball caps and T-shirts with the agencies’ names long have been a fad among everyday citizens, but ballistic armor raises the stakes and concerns, officials said.

“It is believed the Gulf Cartel intended to use the vests as a distraction while they were conducting enforcement activities against their victims,” reads a message prepared by an FBI intelligence coordinator.

The advisory, which was distributed Monday, comes as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano plans to travel the border and visit Mexico this week to discuss taking on drug cartels.

For Full Story

ICE Agents to Target Employers Over Laborers

Here’s an interesting shift in policy and it appears to be a more efficient way to address the problem. We’ll see if it works.

ice3
By Josh Meyer and Anna Gorman
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — Stepping into the political minefield of immigration reform, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napaolitano will soon direct federal agents to emphasize targeting American employers for arrest and prosecution over the laborers who enter the country illegally to work for them, department officials said Monday.

The shift in emphasis will be outlined in revamped field guidelines issued to agents of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division as early as this week, according to several officials familiar with the change in policy.

It is in keeping with comments that President Barack Obama made during last year’s campaign, when he said past enforcement efforts have failed because they focused on illegal immigrants rather than the companies that hire them.

“There is a supply side and a demand side,” said one Homeland Security official. “Like other law-enforcement philosophies, there is a belief that by focusing more on the demand side, you cut off the supply.”

For Full Story