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FBI’s Recovery of Deleted Surveillance Leads to More Hazing Charges at PSU Frat

Timothy Piazza

Timothy Piazza

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s discovery of deleted surveillance video from the basement of a Penn State University frat house has prompted a slew of new charges tied to the hazing death of 19-year-old Timothy Piazza.

Prosecutors on Monday charged 12 more members of the now-defunct Beta Theta Pi fraternity, including Braxton Becker, 20, who is accused of deleting the video recovered by the FBI, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports

According to the new footage, Piazza was a fraternity pledge in February when he consumed 18 alcoholic drinks in one hour and 22 minutes.

Five fraternity members – Ryan Liam Burke, 21, Aidan O’Brien, 20, Jonathan Kanzler, 19, Joshua Kurczewski, 19, and Bo Han Song, 19, were charged with felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter. They’ve also been charged with misdemeanor counts of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, hazing and furnishing liquor to a minor.

Others charged with misdemeanor hazing and furnishing alcohol to minors include oseph Ems, Brian Gelb, Patrick Jackson, Reggie Goeke, Donald Prior and Mike Fernandez.

Braxton Becker, whose previous charge was dismissed, now faces a  misdemeanor counts tampering with evidence, obstructing administration of law and hindering apprehension. 

Fraternity members told State College police Detective David Scicchitano that the surveillance camera in the basement wasn’t working. But the FBI was able to recover the deleted footage.

Sessions to Face Tough Questions Today about Russia Communicating with Trump Team

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

How much did Attorney General Jeff Sessions know about Donald Trump’s campaign aides communicating with Russia?

Sessions, who has provided shifting, sometimes contradictory answers to questions about Russia’s connection to the Trump Campaign, will testify Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee amid discoveries that suggest he knew more than he let on.

The committee plans to ask the former Alabama senator about his involvement and conversations about Trump aides traveling to Russia or trying to set up a meeting with Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin

According to testify from former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, it appears Sessions did know about contacts between Russia and Trump campaign officials.

The committee’s 17 Democrats wrote in a letter that Sessions’ statements include “inconsistencies” that need to be hashed out during today’s testimony.

FBI Signals Possible Investigation of Planned Parenthood, Other Abortion Providers

Planned Parenthood protester in Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling.

Planned Parenthood protester in Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI appears poised to investigate allegations that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers violated the law by selling fetal tissue and body parts.

The FBI recently requested unreacted documents from the Senate Judiciary Committee after its chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, urged the FBI in December to investigate the abortion providers following a lengthy probe into the sale of fetal tissue, The Hill reports

At the time, Grassley told the committee he had enough evidence to prove abortion providers profited in the transfer of tissue and body parts from aborted fetuses. Grassley contends the providers violated a 1993 law that bars selling fetal tissue at a profit.

Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department would comment.

Planned Parenthood, which insists it never violated the law, said it provided more than 3,000 pages of documents and several witnesses to the committee.

“Planned Parenthood strongly disagrees with the recommendations of the Senate Republican staff to refer this matter to the Justice Department, especially in light of the fact that investigations by three other Congressional committees, and investigations in 13 states including a Grand Jury in Texas, have all shown that Planned Parenthood did nothing wrong,” said Dana Singiser, Vice President of Government Affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“These accusations are baseless, and a part of a widely discredited attempt to end access to reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has never, and would never, profit while facilitating its patients’ choice to donate fetal tissue for use in important medical research,” she added.

FBI: More Than 7,600 People Were Victimized by Hate Crimes in 2016

hate-photo-of-handBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Law enforcement agencies reported a total of 7,615 victims of hate crimes nationwide in 2016.

The largest motivation for committing hate crimes is race, which accounted for 57.5% of the reported cases, the FBI revealed Monday

More than 20% of the hate crimes involved a religious bias. Nearly 18% involved a religious bias. The remaining hate crimes were motivated by a gender identity, disability or gender bias.

The largest percentage of hate crimes – 27.3% – occur in or near residences. Another 18.4% happen on or near some type of roadway.

“The Bureau will also continue to combat hate crimes that fall under federal jurisdiction—the number one investigative priority under our Civil Rights Program—and offer operational assistance to our local and state law enforcement partners during their hate crime investigations,” the FBI said in a press release.

Special Counsel Probe Focuses on How Much Trump Knew about Russia Contacts

Robert Mueller

Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is trying to determine how much Donald Trump and his inner circle were aware of the campaign team’s contracts with Russia.

To get closer to the mystery, Mueller’s team questioned Sam Clovis, co-chairman of Trump’s election campaign, who testified before the grand jury in late October, two sources familiar with the investigation told Reuters

“The ultimate question Mueller is after is whether candidate Trump and then President-electTrump knew of the discussions going on with Russia, and who approved or even directed them,” said one source. “That is still just a question.”

The White House declined to comment.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in a deal that involve testimony against the president and his inner circle.

“The investigators now know what Papadopoulos was doing on the Russian front, which he initially tried to conceal, and who he told that to,” said the other source. “Now want to know whether Clovis and others reported these activities and others related to Russia, and if so, to whom,” this source said.

FBI: Air Controller Jailed on Charges of Possessing a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Paul George Dandan, via police

Paul George Dandan, via police

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A air traffic controller at Charlotte Douglas International Airport is in jail after the FBI alleged he was in possession of a weapon of mass destruction.

Paul George Dandan, 30, was arrested Friday in Charlotte and charged with possession of a weapon of mass destruction, WCNC-Charlotte reports. He’s in jail under a $45,000 bond.

The FBI, which is helping Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police investigate the case, said they don’t expect federal charges to be filed at this time.

The FAA terminated Dandan’s access to the airport following his arrest.

Authorities have not described the type of weapon Dandan possessed.

Border Patrol Losing More Agents Than It Can Replace, Underscoring Hiring Challenges

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol is losing more agents than it can replace, causing “significant challenges” in hiring and training new personnel.

Two eye-opening reports from the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security and the Government Accountability Office underscore the difficulties of meeting ambitious hiring goals set by President Trump, the Los Angels Times reports

The GAO report indicates that staffing levels fall below the 2011 congressional mandate of 21,370 agents. As of May, the agency had 19,500 agents, or 1,870 fewer than required.

Between 2013-16, Border Patrol hired an average of 523 agents a year to replace the annual exodus of 904.

The reports indicate fewer agents are hired because of better pay at competing agencies, a difficult hiring process that requires a polygraph exam and assignments that involve working in remote location near the border.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI’s Gun Background Checks Are Missing Millions of Problematic Cases

background checkBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Millions of people who should be barred from legally buying guns may still be eligible to purchase a firearm because government agencies are failing to alert the FBI’s background-check system of citizens with criminal convictions and mental illnesses.

The Air Force, for example, acknowledged it erred by failing to notify the FBI of the Texas church shooter who killed 26 people earlier this month. The gunman had been court-martialed on charges of beating his wife and child. He also escaped a mental health institution after threatening to kill superiors.

The Air Force’s failure to flag the former airman is part of a larger systemic breakdown in which government agencies are failing to forward criminal records and mental health diagnoses to the FBI gun background checks, the Washington Post reports

The FBI is uncertain how widespread the problem is, but the NRA estimates about 7 million records are missing from the system, according to a 2013 report by the nonprofit National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. The reported found that “at least 25% of felony convictions … are not available” to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.