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ATF Concludes Deadly Fire at Texas Fertilizer Facility Was Intentionally Set

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A massive explosion at a fertilizer facility in Texas that killed more than three dozen people and injured hundreds was intentionally set, the ATF said Wednesday.

The announcement comes more than three years after the explosion.

The ATF said it has ruled out “all reasonable, accidental and natural causes,” the Washington Post reports. 

The agency has not made any arrests yet and is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible.

The explosion also leveled nearby homes.

Other Stories of Interest

Longtime Clinton Aide Walks Out of FBI Interview about Private Email Server

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Longtime Hillary Clinton aide Cheryl Mills briefly walked out of an interview with the FBI.

The Washington Post reports that the FBI asked questions that her lawyer and the Justice Department had agreed were off limits.

Mills, who served as chief of staff while Clinton was secretary of state, and her attorney returned after a short time.

The FBI is expected to interview Clinton in the coming weeks.

Mills, who is an attorney, was caught off guard when the FBI asked about the procedure used to produce emails to the State Department – a question that was supposed to be off limits.

Former Aide to Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell Pleads Guilty in Pay-to-Play Scheme

Harrisburg Capitol Building.

Harrisburg Capitol Building.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former top aide to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell pleaded guilty Tuesday in a pay-to-play scheme involving a phony company set up by the FBI.

John H. Estey pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud after funneling illegal campaign contributions to Pennsylvania legislators to help the fake company, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. 

Estey’s attorney said hie client was “sorry about the mistakes he has made.”

Estey is facing up to 20 years in prison but sentencing guidelines call for six months of probation.

FBI Agents Save Emaciated Puppies Dumped Along a Road in Michigan

One of the saved puppies.

One of the saved puppies.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two FBI agents from Michigan saved three emaciated puppies who were dumped along the side of the road on Mother’s Day.

Special Agent Kara Pepper and her husband, who also is an FBI agent, began feeding the little black lab mix puppies. Both work for the Jackson office.

“I’m a dog mama myself, so I became an adoptive dog mom of triplets,” Pepper told the Clarion-Ledger. “We took care of them and bathed them and fed them. Seeing those puppies emaciated and thirsty and hungry just broke my heart, and as a law enforcement officer it’s my job to take care of everyone around me, including these little puppies.” 

A family friend adopted one of the pups, and the Peppers named the other two “Socks” and “G.I. Joey.”

They are hoping to find one home for the two dogs so they can stat together.

Cell Phone App Helps Border Patrol Save Lives, Capture Undocumented Immigrants

"Grid Me Now" app.

“Grid Me Now” app.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A cell phone app is credited with saving undocumented immigrants who were in bad shape after crossing the border.

The app, “Grid Me Now,” allows residents to send precise coordinates of undocumented immigrants to Border Patrol stations.

In one case, a rancher in Texas found a man who crossed the border illegally and was having a tough time. The rancher offered the man water and then sent the coordinates to the Border Patrol, KRGV reports. 

Jon Parham, Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue team member, said, “He looked exhausted. He was not severe, but he definitely would have gotten there if he’d stayed out here any longer. Luckily, he made it out the road and somebody spotted him, called us in. We responded to it and got him the medical help he needed.”

In another case, a rancher spotted a young woman who needed medical attention, and she sent out an alert on the app.

“She was left behind, you know, just after Mother’s Day,” said Thomas W. Slowinski, deputy Border Patrol agent in charge in Falfurrias. “Who leaves a woman behind in the brush? Well, the ruthless smugglers do, okay. They left her behind too tired to walk, feet completely blistered. This rancher went by, saw her, gave us the information, need help, need medical help. That information came in, and of course we responded.”

Slowinski said the phone app is a great resource.

“It’s a tool for us to better communicate with the ranch community or the community at large, to generate information, precise information, through the use of the Internet in an application… that goes on smart phones to give us a precise location of the traffic they may encounter,” Slowinski said.

DEA Executes Search Warrant at Prince’s Home As Part of Opiate Investigation

Prince, via Wikipedia.

Prince, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA executed a search warrant on Prince’s Paisley Park home Tuesday as part of a federal investigation into the untimely death of the music icon.

Hollywood Life reports that investigators are trying to determine who prescribed the medication to Prince, who died on April 21 after an apparent overdose on opiates.

Authorities are hunting down Prince’s medical records and any other related information.

 “Detectives are revisiting the scene at Paisley Park as a component of a complete investigation. No other information is available,” said the local Sherrif’s Office tweetedTuesday afternoon.

The official results of the autopsy have not yet been released.

Mexican Judge: Drug Kingpin ‘El Chapo’ Can Be Extradited to U.S.

'El Chapo' Guzman

‘El Chapo’ Guzman

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Mexican judge said Monday that the country can extradite Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the U.S.

The judge, who was not identified, said extradition can move forward if Mexico’s foreign ministry approves it within 20 days. The defense also has the right to appeal, Fox New reports. 

A Mexican security official said Guzman is lodged in a less-secure prison in an area controlled by his Sinaloa cartel.

“El Chapo” broke out of prison in 2001 and 2014.

Former FBI Agent Pleads Guilty to Perjury After Lying During ‘Whitey’ Bulger Testimony

Whitey Bulger

Whitey Bulger

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former FBI agent who repeatedly lied during his testimony at the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger pleaded guilty Monday to six counts each of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Robert Fitzpatrick, 76, was the assistant special agent in the charge of the FBI’s Boston division during Bulger’s violent reign and was the first to testify on behalf of Bulger’s attorneys.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Hafer lied during testimony “in order to enhance his own credibility” and to bolster Bulger’s defense, ABC News reports. 

The judge said Fitzpatrick lied about his role in Bulger’s work as a criminal informant for the FBI. He also lied about recovering the gun used to assassinate Martin Luther King Jr.

Under a plea agreement, Fitzpatrick would receive two years of probation. Sentencing is set for Aug. 5.