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Lobbyist Bad Boy Gets Four Years in Prison

WASHINGTONJack Abramoff, the onetime flamboyant lobbyist who amassed a fortune by showering gifts on Congressional and executive branch officials while bilking Indian tribes of millions of dollars, was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison.
Judge Ellen S. Huvelle of Federal District Court here ordered that Mr. Abramoff serve the time for corruption and tax offenses uncovered by an influence-peddling investigation that touched Republican leaders in Congress and midlevel officials in the Bush administration, among others. Judge Huvelle said Mr. Abramoff had engaged in “a consistent course of corrupt conduct.”
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Feds Shed Light on Bizzare Bank Heist

Brian Wells/FBI photo

Brian Wells/FBI photo

A pizza delivery guy who said he was forced into robbing a bank wasn’t delivering the truth, feds say.

By Sean D. Hamill
New York Times
ERIE, Pa. – In one of the most bizarre crimes in recent memory, a pizza deliveryman walked into a bank near here five years ago and gave a teller a note saying a bomb strapped to his neck and torso would detonate if he was not given money.
The man, Brian D. Wells, walked out with $8,702, got in his car and was stopped almost immediately by state police troopers. Minutes later, the bomb exploded, killing Mr. Wells.
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FBI Ups The Ante $1 million For Mobster

The Boston FBI continues to hunt mobster James “Whitey” Bulger. Will adding to the reward help?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
 
     The reward for the capture of Boston’s most notorious mobster James “Whitey” Bulger has doubled.  The FBI is now offering $2 million.
     Along with the reward, the FBI said Wednesday that it’s distributing two new  age-enhanced photos of the elusive Bulger to its 56 field divisions and 60 legal attaches around the country.
      “The Bulger Fugitive Task Force continues to conduct a comprehensive worldwide fugitive investigation to apprehend James “Whitey” Bulger,” said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan in Boston in a prepared statement. “The $2 million reward is yet another way to increase awareness and visibility of Bulger’s photo and to encourage anyone who might have information to come forward.”
       According to the FBI, Bulger has been involved in a life of crime since leaving the U.S. Air Force in 1952.
      Bulger was a crime boss in South Boston and ran a criminal organization for 30 year that was involved in gambling, loan sharking and drugs. In 2000, he was charged with playing a role in 19 murders during the 1970s and 1980s in connection with organized crime leadership, the FBI said.

IG Referred Gonzales For Possible Prosecution

     Taking homework home can be dangerous business. Just ask former Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales.

Alberto Gonzales/CNN
Alberto Gonzales/CNN
By Eric Lichtblau
New York Times
WASHINGTON — Former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales mishandled highly classified information relating to the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program and the administration’s prisoner interrogation program, an internal report concluded Tuesday.
The Justice Department inspector general, who investigated Mr. Gonzales’s handling of the documents, said he kept classified material at his home and in an office safe in violation of security procedures. The inspector general referred the matter to the national security division of the Justice Department for possible criminal action, but officials there declined to prosecute Mr. Gonzales.
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U.S. Spending Billions, But Coca Crop Grows

The U.S. continues to spend billions of dollars to fight the war on drugs overseas. Unfortunately, across the Andean region, the size of the coca crop keeps increasing.

By Juan Forero and Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
COROICO, Bolivia — Benito Cocarico admits that some of the coca leaves he grows to sell as tea and a traditional pick-me-up are channeled off into the broad stream of the global cocaine trade. But as he trudges on the muddy trails of his farm, located in a region where the raw material for the drug grows on narrow terraces, he explains how central the crop is to his family’s well-being.
“The prices of oranges, mandarins, coffee and other products are too low, and they do not give you enough to survive,” said Cocarico, 50, adding that he plans to double the size of his coca crop. “So we are obligated to plant coca.”
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Venezuela Refuses to Cooperate With DEA

In the latest barb-trading over the issue, Venezuela dismissed U.S. attempts to renew talks on drugs as ”useless and inopportune,” saying U.S. officials should focus on slashing demand for drugs at home rather than blaming setbacks on other nations’ supposed lack of cooperation.
”The anti-drug fight in Venezuela has shown significant progress during recent years, especially since the government ended official cooperation programs with the DEA,” Venezuela’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
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Former Atty. General Still Grabbing Headlines

Alberto Gonzales

Alberto Gonzales

Former Atty. General Alberto Gonzales appears to have violated the law by taking home top secret documents.

LARA JAKES JORDAN
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales mishandled highly classified notes about a secret counterterror program, but not on purpose, according to a memo by his legal team.  The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, acknowledges that Gonzales improperly stored notes about the program and might have taken them home at one point.

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FBI Could Get Greater Powers Under New Plan

    The reach of the FBI could get longer under a new Justice Department plan. Will it help? Does it go too far? In any event, it’s bound to cause controversy.

By Eric Lichtblau
New York Times
WASHINGTON — A Justice Department plan would loosen restrictions on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to allow agents to open a national security or criminal investigation against someone without any clear basis for suspicion, Democratic lawmakers briefed on the details said Wednesday.

The plan, which could be made public next month, has already generated intense interest and speculation. Little is known about its precise language, but civil liberties advocates say they fear it could give the government even broader license to open terrorism investigations.

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