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FBI Seeks Public Help In Threatening Letter Case

Part of Threatening Letter/fbi photo
Text of Threatening Letter/fbi photo
Envelope Of A Threatening Letter/fbi photo
One Of  The Envelopes/fbi photo

The letters are a little too reminiscent of 2001. The FBI is turning to the public for help.

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Government agents turned to the public Thursday to help find whoever sent more than 50 threatening letters, many of which declared “it’s payback time,” to banks and government financial institutions.
The FBI released photographs of one of the letters on its website Thursday asking people to “see if you recognize the phrasing of the letter, the envelope label or any other clue you think might help investigators.”
The letter contained a suspicious powder like most of the others. It warned, “What you just breathed in will kill you in 10 days.”
The powder in the letters has tested negative for toxins and appears harmless, according to the FBI.
The letters have been sent to Chase bank branches in 11 states since Monday and to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., an independent federal agency, and the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision, which regulates all federal and many state thrift institutions.
For Full Story

See FBI Page On Letters

Ex-FBI Agent Says Mob Informants Were Outliving Usefulness

Like milk, informants have a limited shelf life — at least that seem to be gist of the testimony earlier this week.

Mobster "Whitey" Bulger/fbi photo

Mobster "Whitey" Bulger/fbi photo

By Shelley Murphy
Boston Globe Staff
MIAMI – The FBI dropped James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi as informants in 1990 because their handler, agent John J. Connolly Jr., was retiring and told his bosses that the notorious Boston gangsters were themselves retiring from their criminal activities, according to testimony yesterday at Connolly’s murder trial.
“My impression was they were living on a reputation more than on current events,” said Edward M. Quinn, a retired FBI supervisor. He added that Bulger and Flemmi were dropped as informants because it would have been difficult to get another agent to handle them and, more important, Connolly said they were in “semiretirement mode.”
At the time, the Massachusetts State Police and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration were targeting Bulger and Flemmi in an investigation that would later be merged with an FBI probe and result in a sweeping federal racketeering indictment against the gangsters.
For Full Story

Ruling In 1964 Crime Could Undermine Civil Rights-Era Probes

Can time run out on justice? Federal authorities says they are investigating 22 civil rights-era crimes, but a court ruling invoking the statute of limitations could undermine their efforts.

By HOLBROOK MOHR
Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. – Federal prosecutors have identified 22 current investigations into civil rights-era crimes that could be impacted by a federal appeals court’s decision to overturn a conviction in a 1964 kidnapping case.
The Justice Department wants the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the ruling that acquitted a reputed Klansman in the abductions of two black teenagers found slain. A three-judge panel said the statute of limitations had passed from the time the crime was committed in 1964 and James Ford Seale’s conviction in 2007.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said Tuesday in a letter to the court that the FBI is investigating 22 cases from that era that could result in kidnapping charges. The crimes are being investigated in the judicial jurisdiction that includes Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. The letter, a response to a question by the appeals court, stated that seven of the cases are “particularly promising.”
Like the Seale case, all 22 of the investigations focus on events that occurred before 1972, the letter said. A Mississippi law professor said the ruling could have a chilling effect on the cases.
“I think that the implication is that there are meritous kidnapping cases from the civil rights era that will go unprosecuted if this ruling stands,” said Mississippi College School of Law Professor Matt Steffey. “I think it’s likely that this would eliminate a whole category of potential prosecutions.”
For Full Story

Read Justice Department Petition For Reconsideration

Anne Hathaway’s Ex Gets 4 1/2 Years In Fed Prison

Actress Anne Hathaway figures it’s time for a new leading man.

Anne Hathaway in "Rachel Getting Married"/sony classic pictures

Anne Hathaway/sony pictures classics

BY Thomas Zambito
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — Italian con man Raffaello Follieri was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison Thursday for scamming investors out of millions by claiming to be a Vatican insider.
Follieri, the former boyfriend of actress Anne Hathaway, tossed his head back and looked to the ceiling after Manhattan Federal Judge John Koeltl imposed sentence. Follieri hoped to get just three years.
“I didn’t start off with the intention of deceiving anyone,” Follieri told Koeltl, his words translated from his native Italian.
“I started off with good intentions determined to run an honorable business and make everyone proud. Instead, I made some terrible mistakes.”
Hathaway, who starred in “The Devil Wears Prada,” was not in court.
For Full Story

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtuRT_6ZjQ0

Read Government’s Detailed Sentencing Memorandum

Juror Has “Violent Outbursts” During Deliberations In Stevens Trial

From the outset, the trial seemed a little chaotic. Now that chaos has spilled over into jury deliberations. Will Stevens benefit from it all?

Sen. Ted Stevens/ official photo
Sen. Ted Stevens/ official photo

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — The foreman of the jury in Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ corruption trial asked today that a juror be removed following “violent outbursts” with other jurors and her refusal to “follow the rules and laws” during deliberations.
In a note to the judge, the foreman said he represented the views of 10 other jurors in requesting that the juror, identified only as No. 9, be removed from the panel. He also described her as “rude, disrespectful and unreasonable.”
But U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan declined. He read the note in court and summoned the panel into the courtroom for what he called “a pep talk.” He told the jurors to act with civility and sent them back to deliberate in the first trial of a sitting U.S. senator in more than two decades.
For Full Story

UPDATE 6:20 p.m. – Jurors go home Thursday without reaching verdict.

UPDATE 10:40 A.M.  Friday-Oct. 24- The Associated Press reports that the judge in the Sen. Stevens public corruption trial has halted jury deliberations for a day or two to accommodate a juror whose father died. Read More

DEA And Colombians Link Hezbollah To Cocaine Ring

Hezbollah flag

Hezbollah flag

Every organizations needs money to flourish. No one knows that better than the DEA and Colombian investigators who dug deep to find a drug connection between Colombia and Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese-based militia.

By Chris Kraul and Sebastian Rotella
Los Angeles Times
(Reported from Bogota, Colombia and Madrid) — U.S. and Colombian investigators have dismantled an international cocaine smuggling and money laundering ring that allegedly used part of its profits to finance Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite militia, officials said Tuesday.
Culminating a two-year investigation, authorities arrested at least 36 suspects in recent days, including an accused Lebanese kingpin in Bogota, the Colombian capital. Chekry Harb, who used the alias “Taliban,” acted as the hub of an unusual and alarming alliance between South American cocaine traffickers and Middle Eastern militants, Colombian investigators allege.

For Full Story

South Carolina Councilman Busted For Computer Spying

Tony Trout/official photo

Tony Trout/official photo

Some people are computer illiterate. Not Councilman Tony Trout, unfortunately.

By Ben Szobody
The Greenville News
GREENVILLE, S.C. — County Councilman Tony Trout was charged in a five-count indictment Wednesday with unlawfully accessing computers used by the county administrator and Yahoo, destroying records and intercepting and disclosing electronic communication, charges that could bring a maximum of 36 years in prison and $1.1 million in fines if he is convicted.
Gov. Mark Sanford intends to suspend Trout from office Thursday and will explore appointing Joe Baldwin, the man who defeated Trout in the Republican primary, to the seat early, said spokesman Joel Sawyer.
U.S. Magistrate William Catoe appointed public defender Benjamin Stepp as a “standby counsel” Wednesday to advise Trout on legal and procedural issues. Stepp told The Greenville News that usually means a defendant wants to do all the talking in court.
Stepp declined to comment about the indictment because he said he technically isn’t Trout’s lawyer. Attempts to reach Trout were unsuccessful. Trout’s previous attorney, Ernest Hamilton, was terminated Wednesday, according to court documents.
For Full Story

Read FBI Affidavit For Search Warrant

Read Search Warrant Return

Passengers Will Have To Disclose More Info To Fly

These days the friendly skies are getting a little less friendly and little more intrusive. Will less privacy mean safer skies?

Sec. Michael Chertoff At Press Conference/dhs photo

Sec. Michael Chertoff At Press Conference/dhs photo

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Department of Homeland Security will take responsibility from airlines for checking passenger names against watch lists beginning in January and will require all commercial passengers for the first time to provide their full name, date of birth and gender as a condition of boarding a flight, U.S. officials said today.
The changes will be phased in next year for the 2 million passengers each day aboard domestic and international flights to, from or over the United States. It marks the Bush administration’s long-delayed fulfillment of a top aviation security priority identified after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, an effort that has long spurred privacy concerns.
Speaking at Reagan National Airport, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Transportation Security Administration chief Kip Hawley said that by gathering more personal information from passengers, the government will dramatically cut down on instances of mistaken identity that have wrongly delayed travelers or kept them off flights.
For Full Story

Read Department Of Homeland Security Press Release