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In The Drug World Toys Just Aren’t For Kids

One of the toys used to smuggle cocaine/dea photo

One of the toys used to smuggle cocaine/dea photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
DEA agents busted up a drug ring  that smuggled cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York by concealing it inside children’s toys, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said .
Authorities unsealed a 9-defendant indictment in New York Tueday, capping a five-month investigation into the ring  that was headed by Jose Diaz, also known as Jose David Diaz-Ortega, authorities said.
Up to twice a week, Diaz went to the Prima Check Cashing at 1740 First Avenue in Manhattan and wired $40,000 to $50,000 in cash to associates in Puerto Rico,  the DEA said. In one instance, investigators recovered more than 2 pounds of cocaine inside a child’s pegboard stool, authorities said.

FBI Looking Into Nation’s Financial Meltdown

Behind every good meltdown is a potential scandal. With the financial market melting quickly, the FBI is stepping in to see if there’s any criminal wrongdoing.

By Lara Jakes Jordan
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The FBI is investigating four major U.S. financial institutions whose collapse helped trigger a $700 billion bailout plan by the Bush administration, The Associated Press has learned.
Two law enforcement officials said Tuesday the FBI is looking at potential fraud by mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and insurer American International Group Inc. Additionally, a senior law enforcement official said Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. also is under investigation.
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Homeland Security Easing Policy On Data Gathering

The Department of Homeland Security is easing policies when it comes to gathering citizen information at border crossings. Is it good for Americans or does it go to far?

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON – The U.S. government has quietly recast policies that affect the way information is gathered from U.S. citizens and others crossing the border and what is done with it, including relaxing a two-decade-old policy that placed a high bar on federal agents copying travelers’ personal material, according to newly released documents.The policy changes, civil liberties advocates say, also raise concerns about the guidelines under which border officers may share data copied from laptop computers and cellphones with other agencies and the types of questions they are allowed to ask American citizens.

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NBA Ref Hangs Up Whistle For Federal Prison

Tim Donaghy/nbc sports

Tim Donaghy/nbc sports

While other NBA refs get ready to head to the hardwood floors, Tim Donaghy heads off to federal prison today. A disgraceful end to a distinguished career.

Jon Saraceno
USA TODAY
Today marks a historic moment for the NBA, but not one it wants to commemorate. The league contends that for the first time in major professional U.S. sports, a referee will walk into prison a felon convicted on a gambling charge related to his employment.
It is an embarrassing day not only for Tim Donaghy, 41, who will report to a minimum-security federal camp in Pensacola, Fla., to start a 15-month sentence, but also for a league with a lucrative global footprint and a system of officiating that has taken a blow.
Donaghy pleaded guilty 13 months ago to felony charges of wire fraud and transmitting wagering tips through interstate commerce. He admitted to betting on NBA games, but neither the league nor federal investigators found evidence he wagered on games he worked. He was fined $500,000 and ordered to pay the NBA restitution.

For Full Story

Timeline Of The Scandal (USA Today)

State Dept. Worker Pleads To Peaking At Passports

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — A former State Department employee pleaded guilty Monday to illegally accessing  hundreds of confidential passport applications of celebrities, athletes and game show contestants, the Justice Department said.
Lawrence C. Yontz, 48, of Arlington, Va,  pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of unauthorized access, the Justice Department said.  Sentencing is set for Dec. 19. He could face up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Yontz admitted between February 2005 and March 2008 that he logged into the Passport Information Electronic Records System, which contains passport applications dating back to 1994, authorities said.
In all, he looked at passport information of about 200 celebrities, athletes, actors, politicians, musicians, game show contestants and media members, the Justice Department said.

Pakistan Tells FBI No Thanks

Pakistan said thanks but no thanks to an offer from the FBI to help investigate the suicide bombing in Islamabad. Is it a another sign of the tension between the two nations or is it just national pride?

By Paul Wiseman and Zafar M. Sheikh
USA TODAY
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan on Sunday rejected a U.S. offer to help investigate the weekend suicide bombing that killed at least 53 people and destroyed the Islamabad Marriott, this capital city’s best-known hotel.
“We do not need help. We are competent. We reject it,” Interior Ministry adviser Rehman Malik told reporters Sunday after the U.S. offered FBI help in pursuing the terrorists behind the attack.

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The Big Guns In Washington May Take The Stand

Collin Powell/white house photo

Colin Powell/white house photo

A parade of Washington insiders could take the stand in the high-profile public corruption trial of Sen. Ted Stevens. Jury selection began today in Washington. Opening statements are expected Wednesday.

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Several powerful senators and former Secretary of State Colin Powell are among possible witnesses at the corruption trial of the longest serving U.S. Republican senator.
Jury selection began Monday in the trial of the Sen. Ted Stevens, who has represented Alaska for more than 35 years. A federal judge listed dozens of people who might be called at the monthlong trial.
Among them are Democratic Sens. Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy and Daniel Inouye. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch is also on the list, as is Powell.
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“Rifleman” Takes Stand In ex-FBI Agent’s Trial

Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi became the latest Boston gangster to take the stand in Miami in the murder trial of ex-FBI agent John Connolly. He didn’t disappoint.

The "Rifleman" in 1965

The Rifleman in 1965

By Shelley Murphy
Boston Globe Staff
MIAMI — A slim and graying Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi took the stand this morning and offered a Florida jury a primer on the history of Boston’s gang wars.
Wearing wire-rimmed glasses, Flemmi, 74, acknowledged that he killed 10 people from 1974 to 1984, 10 murders that have him serving a life sentence. The gangster was laying the groundwork for what is expected to be two days of testimony against his former FBI handler, John J. Connolly.
Staring expressionless, Flemmi described his introduction to murder in 1964, when he helped “clean up and remove the body” of a victim of a gang battle. Prosecutor Fred Wyshak asked whether Flemmi had been involved in the 1965 murder of Charlestown gang leader Edward “Punchy” McLaughlin.
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