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Residents, Local Law Enforcement Concerned about Homeland Security Helicopter Flying Over Michigan City

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 8.44.02 AMBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Residents and local law enforcement have raised serious questions about why a Homeland Security helicopter was spotted flying over the area of Bad Axe, Michigan, WWJ reports.

Hoping to find out more about the helicopter and the reason it was flying over the area, Huron County Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson called the Aviation Unit in Detroit.

“I wasn’t satisfied with their answer to say the least, but I was told [the helicopter] was taking photos,” he explained. “I made them well aware that people are concerned, especially with what’s going on in the media.”

An email obtained by the Huron Daily Tribune suggested the helicopter was on a routine mission along the U.S.-Canada border.

“The Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch is responsible for more than 1,000 miles of international border with Canada, which is patrolled by both aircraft and vessels,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection Public Affairs Officer Kris Grogan said in the email.

Pennsylvania Police Officer Accused of Stealing Money from Drug Trafficker During FBI Sting

police lightsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It appeared to be a routine stop, but it was anything but.

When a Fairview Township, Pa., police officer pulled over a car, the occupant was supposed to be a drug dealer traveling with a lot of money, YDR.com reports. 

Turns out, the driver was actually an undercover FBI agent whose car was outfitted with video surveillance. And the officer who pulled him over was working as a confidential informant for the FBI.

The investigation centered around another Fairview Township officer, 17-year veteran Tyson Baker.

The sting worked exactly as planned.

After Baker arrived as back up, he towed the car to a secluded garage and is accused of stealing $3,000 from a backpack.

On Friday, he was arrested and charged with violating the Hobbs Act, which bars authorities from interfering with interstate commerce.

Other Stories of Interest

Parker: Three Key Criminal Cases Before U.S. Supreme Court in January

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The Supremes will consider three criminal cases in oral arguments scheduled for January 12 and 13. The effect of the decisions are not broad, but the cases illustrate the Court’s responsibility to keep the criminal justice system as construed by the lower courts consistent, rational, and based on precedent.

Those who are not part of the criminal justice system are often surprised when they learn that Double Jeopardy does not prevent separate sovereigns from launching separate prosecutions for the same conduct by a defendant. The most common example is when a defendant faces charges from a single course of conduct in both state and federal court. An acquittal or conviction in one jurisdiction does not preclude charges in another since each has the right to define and punish offenses committed in its jurisdiction.

Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle will decide whether that territory and the federal government are separate sovereigns permitting dual prosecutions. First, a bit of history. The United States obtained the island from Spain after the Spanish American War in 1898. It was a “splendid little war” which made the U.S. a colonial power and made Teddy Roosevelt the President. What could establish his executive qualifications better than the ability to lead a bunch of cowboys and polo players up San Juan Hill?

After the treaty in 1899 Congress established a civil government there with the Governor and the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico appointed by the President and any laws passed by the legislature submitted to Congress for potential annulment. In 1950 Congress offered Puerto Rico a “compact” of self-government. The islanders passed a Constitution in 1952, which was approved by Congress and President Truman. The Constitution removed the oversight powers of the President and the United States Congress, and Puerto Rico was empowered to make its own criminal laws.

Sanchez Valle was charged with illegal sale of firearms by Puerto Rican authorities. While the case was pending, however, he pled guilty to the federal version of the same offense and was sentenced to 5 months in prison, a much lighter sentence than the one he faced by the territorial charges. The trial court dismissed those latter charges as violating Double Jeopardy. The Puerto Rican Supreme Court agreed, holding that Puerto Rico was not a separate sovereign from the United States government.

The case comes down to whether the source of Puerto Rico’s authority to pass and enforce criminal laws is the 1952 Constitution or the ratification of this Constitution by Congress. Is Puerto Rico a sovereign part of the federal system in the same sense as states or an Indian tribe or is there enough of a vestige of colonialism to make the federal government the ultimate source of public power?

Read more »

Weekend Series on Crime: The Dangerous Bikers

FBI Joins Search for Teen with ‘Affluenza’ Who Sheriff Believes May Have Fled the Country

Sheriff Dee Anderson, via Twitter.

Sheriff Dee Anderson, via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Teenager Ethan Couch made national news when his attorney argued he suffered from “affluenza,” a condition stemming from being coddled so much that he lost his sense of responsibility, CBS News reports. 

Now federal officials are helping Texas deputes search for Couch, who was 16 years old when his drunken driving crash killed four pedestrians.

In 2013, Couch was sentenced to 10 years of probation, but now he and his mother are missing.

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson suggested that Couch may have hit the left the country, making him a top fugitive.

A warrant was issued for his arrest.

“I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so,” Anderson said. “I said, we’re going to see him again. He’s going to be back in this system.”

His disappearance follows a video that show what appears to be Couch drinking, which would be a probation violation.

Records: Folk Legend Peter Seeger Hounded by FBI for Years Over Alleged Communist ties

Pete Seeger, via Wikipedia.

Pete Seeger, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Singer-songwriter Peter Seeger was hounded by the FBI from the 1940s to the early 1970 because of his political views and his opposition to deporting Japanese Americans after World War II, according to bureau documents obtained by Mother Jones. 

The nearly 1,800-page file shows that the FBI began pursuing Seeger when he was an Army private and wrote a letter protesting a proposal to deport Japanese Americans following the end of World War II.

The folk legend also joined the Communist Party in the 1940s, which later acknowledged. The FBI continued to try to tie him to the Communist movement.

Here is his letter of protest to the California chapter of the American Legion:

Dear Sirs –

I felt shocked, outraged, and disgusted to read that the California American Legion voted to 1) deport all Japanese after the war, citizen or not, 2) Bar all Japanese descendants from citizenship!!

We, who may have to give our lives in this great struggle—we’re fighting precisely to free the world of such Hitlerism, such narrow jingoism.

If you deport Japanese, why not Germans, Italians, Rumanians, Hungarians, and Bulgarians?

If you bar from citizenship descendants of Japanese, why not descendants of English? After all, we once fought with them too.

America is great and strong as she is because we have so far been a haven to all oppressed.

I felt sick at heart to read of this matter.

Yours truly,

Pvt. Peter Seeger

I am writing also to the Los Angeles Times.

FBI Arrests Man Suspected of Robbing an Armored Truck in Detroit

cash2By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — The FBI has arrested a man suspected of stealing more than $500,000 from an armored truck in Detroit’s Greektown, the Detroit Free Press reports. 

The FBI arrested the man Thursday afternoon at a home in Detroit, but declined to release more information.

The man is accused of dressing as a security guard and stealing several bags of cash from an armored truck on Nov. 28.

No one was injured in the theft.

Homeland Security Official Grilled Over Screening Visas for Potential Terrorism Ties

lvisasBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Homeland Security official was grilled by a House committee over the lack of social media screening for people trying to enter the U.S. on visas for refugees, The San Francisco Gate reports. 

Leon Rodriguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that checking social media in refugee cases often yields little results.

Congress wants to know how thoroughly the U.S. examines the backgrounds of people seeking to come to the country.

The issue has taken on an urgency after it was discovered that one of the San Bernardino shooters came to the U.S. on a K-1 fiancé visa in July 2014 after passing multiple background checks.

The FBI said Tashfeen Malik never publicly posted her allegiance to jihad on Facebook but instead sent private messages.